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Lewis Hamilton: Title battle with Sebastian Vettel will go down to the wire

Lewis Hamilton thinks his tense battle with Sebastian Vettel at the Belgian Grand Prix is proof the outcome of title fight could be determined by the smallest mistake.

Hamilton overcame the championship leader at Spa-Francorchamps despite a tyre disadvantage at the Safety Car restart late in the race. Mercedes had been expected to waltz to victory in Belgium, a power sensitive circuit, but Vettel qualified just 0.2s behind Hamilton's pole time and then demonstrated Ferrari's strong race pace on Sunday by staying with the race leader throughout.

World Championships fronrunners Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Hamilton won, cutting Vettel's championship lead to seven points, but revealed Ferrari's display has left him with a cautious mindset about the remaining races of the season. The Englishman thinks the battle will ebb and flow between both drivers until November's title decider in Abu Dhabi.

"I can't predict it, but just from what we have experienced up until now and how close we were [at Spa], for sure it's how it's going to be and it's going right down to the wire," Hamilton said. "I am sure he was hoping I was going to make mistakes, but that was not happening. I think that's what it can come down to, reliability, it can come down to the pendulum shifting a millimetre in performance either way and it's down to us, and consistency."

Ferrari's strong performance in Belgium prompted Vettel to declare the Italian team does not need to fear any of the remaining circuits on the 2017 calendar. Given the way the races prior to the summer break unfolded, the assumption before Spa was that Mercedes would hold the advantage on high-speed circuits (such as Belgium, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, U.S.A), while Ferrari would be the dominant team on low-speed, high-downforce tracks (such as Singapore and Abu Dhabi).

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks viewing the remainder of the season in such terms is wrong.

"I think first of all it's difficult to attribute patterns of circuits to specific cars. We've seen this year, you think you're good and then you're not as good. What we've seen is that we weren't great on the high-downforce, slow races such as Hungary and Monaco.

"We need to improve that for Singapore. It's a tough fight with Ferrari. Everyone is extracting the maximum to win this development race. We need to bring performance to the car every race in order to get our nose in front. In so far, not surprised."

Author: Nate Saunders, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20503911/lewis-hamilton-title-battle-sebastian-vettel-go-wire

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