The Brit will start curtain-raiser in Melbourne as favourite to win a fourth drivers’ title after missing out to Nico Rosberg last year.
Hamilton paid the price for a slow start and rule changes designed to make the cars up to five seconds a lap quicker have seen Ferrari and Red Bull close the gap on Mercedes, t
The German outfit have won 51 of the previous 59 races but Hamilton said: “I was at the top of my game in on the last four races of last year, so I plan to bring that into this season.
“I am on it and I plan to keep it that way. It is a wonderful feeling to have the car so strong coming into a new era. The cars are faster than they were last year and the challenge of exploiting that speed with your car on track is a great challenge.”
Lewis Hamilton has vowed to be at the top of his game
F1 2017 driver line-up
Sun, March 19, 2017
Express Sport brings you the full F1 2017 driver line-up
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Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton (44)
The bad news for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen is that Mercedes appear to have unlocked extra pace between testing and arriving Down Under
Hamilton hailed the improvement in performance and said: “It was a night and day difference to how the car felt in the last few days of testing, so that was a big relief for all of us.
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“After struggling with some issues in Barcelona, we didn’t know if we’d have the same thing here.
“What’s really encouraging is that we’ve arrived at the track just a week later and the car is exactly where it should be.”
Valtteri Bottas is Lewis Hamilton's new Mercedes rival
Hamilton and Rosberg never saw eye to eye at Mercedes and the 32-year-old is now paired with Valtteri Bottas.
Following the Finn’s move from Williams, Bottas has his work cut out to match Hamilton’s pace.
“Business has continued as usual,” added Hamilton.
“There is probably less tension in the air and with Valtteri coming in, it is a positive breath of fresh air.
“It is a new chapter for us to write together as a team, with the new regulations and the new driver line- up. It is definitely a positive.”