Former F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has said he expected new team-mate Nico Rosberg to be on top form this season despite many people expecting Hamilton to beat the German.

Rosberg has claimed the last three pole positions and victory at the Monaco Grand Prix and although Hamilton remains ahead of Rosberg in the championship the Briton hasn't been able to match the German.

"I expected him to be even stronger than he has been simply because he has been in the team for years," Hamilton told British newspapers.

Indeed Mercedes boss Ross Brawn believes it could take time for Hamilton to get completely used to the Mercedes package.

"I think it is quite a subtle thing," he is quoted by AFP news agency, "but it will just be time, quite frankly.

"Nico has been with the team four or five years and he knows exactly what buttons to press.

"We have a very good group, very experienced people working with Lewis. It just takes a bit of time," he added.

Despite that some people are pointing to Hamilton's much more relaxed 'hip-hop' lifestyle and the unique sight of a bulldog called Roscoe wondering the paddock

However, Hamilton rubbishes those claims and believes the reason for his slight lack in pace compared to his team-mate is a problem with the brakes, and the 2008 champion says that problem won't be fixed quickly.

"I see it being a problem for me for quite some time, until I figure it out, which I haven't done yet," he said.

Despite Rosberg's strong qualifying form and win in Monaco, Hamilton does not see Mercedes challenging for the title this year.

"I don't really look at it and think we are contenders at the moment," he insisted.

Asked who he believed had the strongest overall package at the moment, Hamilton replied: "I would say Ferrari.

"They are not yet the best in qualifying, but they have a race pace that we don't.

"We need to improve our management of the tyres, and then we'll be able to compete on par with Ferrari and Red Bull," he said.

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