Lewis Hamilton sensed Sebastien Vettel’s anger after beating him in Barcelona

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This season’s high octane battle of the speeding cars has been a heated and heart-stopping contest between Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Whereas one would usually visit Barcelona to indulge in a San Miguel and Spanish sausage, returning home packing on a few pounds of weight, Hamilton ended up losing four-and-a-half pounds as he leaped out of his vehicle, blinking stars, and into the arms of his beaming engineers.

But the other, the one that had to settle for second place, was left slightly sour faced in the aftermath, and it appeared as though Hamilton could detect the bubbling anger Vettel was feeling as the two continue to battle it out for F1 supremacy.

Any smiles that might have been visible at the pre-race conference were turned into gritted teeth. Any personal affiliations were put to bed, and Vettel even pushed Hamilton out wide at Turn One, and the two just about made contact after the German exited the pits later on in the race.

It was testament to just how engaging their rivalry has been, and the only difference between the two was a strategic tweak that proved to be a stroke of pure genius from Hamilton’s camp, as they chose to go with medium tyres for a prolonged portion of the race before he overtook his Ferrari counterpart on soft tyres.

Hamilton also benefited greatly from pitting right at the end of a virtual safety car period and was relieved to exit his car at the end in what proved to be a grand stand finish.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said of his rival: "I could sense he was angry and he said he was angry.

"He drove a fantastic race but I can understand how he feels.

"We're never going to be happy to finish second, and I'd be concerned if he was because that's not what we exist for."

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Next up is the panache city of Monte Carlo, where Hamilton knows he can get one up on Vettel if he wins there, too, his latest victory cutting Vettel’s lead at the top to six points.

Such rivalries can sometimes be blown out of proportions, something Hamilton knows all about following his strenuous relationship with previous teammate Nico Rosberg.

When asked if his so-far respectful and harmonious camaraderie with Vettel could be strained following his latest exploits in Barcelona, Hamilton replied: "I don't know, it's difficult to say.

"We just had a close battle and if it had gone a different direction then obviously it could be different.

"We know how racing goes, if he had hit me at Turn 1 and I didn't finish the race and he did, it wouldn't be 'great job Sebastian!

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"It was aggressive but I was able to remain in the fight fortunately and I avoided a collision ultimately.

"We'll have a tough fight and I love a challenge.

"He was respectful and that stayed the same even at the end."

The situation is different to that with Rosberg, however, as his rivalry with Vettel is counterbalanced by a flourishing partnership with current Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, making this a season to remember for Britain’s ace racer.

"It's definitely one of the favourites if not the favourite [battle] I'm having," said the three-time world champion.

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"I'm in a much better position than last year so 2017 is a much better year so far.

"It's great to have a battle and a fight with another team is so much nicer and more enjoyable because there's no tension within our team.

"In the last race when Valterri won there wasn't an ounce of me that was like 'damn it he won.'"

What can we expect next from Hamilton? Have your say in the comments section below.

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