Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton confident of continued Mercedes domination in 2016

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Lewis Hamilton believes his Mercedes team will continue to dominate Formula 1 in 2016.

The winner of three world championships, including the last two, expects this to be the final guaranteed year the German carmaker holds a performance advantage over the rest of the field before significant design changes are expected in 2017.

"There is at least another year of this strength we have," the recently turned 31-year-old was quoted by the Mirror.


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"Of course, there is a slight unknown because the car can shift. [performance] could dip.

"But we have a much, much stronger foundation in this team and that is not going to be the case. I'm so confident that is not going to be the case."

Who can stop Mercedes?

Many are hoping the huge gains made by Ferrari in 2015 will be repeated in 2016, allowing four-time champion Sebastian Vettel the opportunity to fight more regularly for wins and perhaps kick-start a rivalry most want to see.

However, the fabled Italian team actually found themselves slipping back towards the end of last year as they experimented with new parts for this year's car and because of Mercedes' unrelenting development.

There are also possible improvements made by Williams, who use the same Mercedes power unit, as well as the McLaren-Honda package with this writer believing they could well be dark horses to join the battle for 'best-of-the-rest' as the Japanese engine supplier overcomes the issues of 2015.

Hamilton certain he will regain edge on Rosberg

Hamilton will also have to reassert his position within his own team as Nico Rosberg ended last season with a run of six pole positions, converting three into victories.

It remains to be seen whether just how realistic Rosberg's sudden gains were given they came after the Brit wrapped up the title and how dominant Hamilton had been prior to then.

Indeed, Hamilton is confident he will be back on form and hasn't ruled out being even stronger in all areas in 2016.

"I don't think you are ever performing at peak level all the time. You have dips," Hamilton said.

"I was at a peak for a long time during the year, and then I had three so-so races at the end.

"I still drove pretty well and didn't make any mistakes. But in not being at 100 percent, the good thing is there are improvements that can be made for next year."

"The struggles I've had physically and mentally, hopefully, I can rectify those. I'm hoping I should be stronger.

"I'm still relatively young, so at the moment, I only see a mountain which I'm willing to climb. I don't feel I'm seeing the downside of it, so that's what keeps me going."

Mercedes patience to be tested

Certainly it could be a very tetchy year in the Mercedes garage if Rosberg can continue the performances he put in at the back end of 2015.

The German was becoming visibly more frustrated at playing second fiddle to Hamilton, even throwing his cap at the Briton in the pre-podium formalities after he claimed his third world title in Austin.

Such was the animosity following the season finale in Abu Dhabi, team boss Toto Wolff even warned the drivers their seat at the team would be considered if tensions began to harm their on-track performance.

However, it would also be good for the sport as a whole if Rosberg can maintain a stronger challenge should Mercedes again hold a clear advantage to try and ease growing discontent at the lack of competition at the front of the grid.

Either way, with no answers set to be given until Melbourne, Hamilton will easily remain the favourite to once again lift the Drivers' crown come November and it is up to the rest to try and stop him.

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