Vettel and Hamilton 'looking forward' to close title fight

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Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton say they're looking forward to the prospect of a genuine battle for the drivers' title in 2017.

Recent seasons have been dominated by Mercedes with no other teams coming close. But on Sunday, Vettel demonstrated that Ferrari is a real threat this year by clinching victory in Melbourne.

Now both drivers say that they hope that continues into the rest of the season.

"For sure I would love to have a close battle," said Vettel. "Obviously right now it looks like we have equal machinery. I hope it stays that way and then we will see how it turns out

"It’s obviously a lot of fun to race for victories and a lot of fun to race against the best.

"I have great respect [for Lewis]. He’s proven to be one of the quickest drivers on the grid," Vettel continued.

"I think he had an amazing debut here ten years ago. I still remember his move around the outside, when he made other people look a bit silly!"

Hamilton agreed with Vettel's view that it looked like it was going to be a hard-fought campaign this season.

"Incredible amount of respect for Sebastian and what he’s achieved in his career," Hamilton said.

"It’s been a privilege to be racing in an era with him. And now finally at a period of time when we can actually have a real race.

"The fact that we are similar pace-wise [means] it’s going to be a very, very hard slog this season.

"It’s going to be physically and mentally demanding. But as Sebastian said, racing the best is what Formula 1 is all about. Ultimately it makes you work that much harder, having to raise the bar.

"I’m looking forward to that."

GALLERY: all the pics from Sunday's action

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