Hamilton hopes young gun challengers 'get closer through the year'

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Lewis Hamilton would like nothing more than to battle wheel-to-wheel on a regular basis with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, and indeed the Mercedes driver hopes the two young chargers step up their challenge n the second part of the year.

Hamilton is on track to conquer his sixth world championship title this season after heading into the summer break with a 62-point lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

While the Finn appeared to be Hamilton's only challenger in the early part of the 2019 campaign, Red Bull's Verstappen has stolen much of the Brit's thunder in the last few races, trouncing Mercedes and its drivers in Austria and in Germany.

Meanwhile, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc continues to refine his talent and experience with the Scuderia, with a maiden F1 win looking just around the corner for the Monegasque.

Hamilton's focus is on Grand Prix racing's next generation of outstanding talent of which Verstappen and Leclerc are the most prominent delegates.

"We’ve seen a big step with Red Bull," said the reigning world champion. "They’ve really taken a leap forward with their [Honda] power unit this year and it’s pretty great to see.

"They’re going to go from strength to strength and Max is naturally just... he’s not a youngster necessarily in the sport anymore. While he’s young, he’s been here for a few years."

"Charles is only in his second season, so he’s grown, and I can only see him getting stronger and we’re already seeing some great performances from him this season and that one is definitely one to watch out for," he added.

"Whether or not Ferrari are going to pick up their pace, I don’t know.

"They’re kind of up and down at the moment – last year I think it was quite close between three of us, I think Ferrari were slightly quicker. I hope it’s close, and I hope it gets closer through the year."

Regardless of the adversaries or the rival team, Hamilton is always up for a good fight. So, bring it on says the 34-year-old.

"I’m always down, I’m always ready," he said. "It’s just not been the case, it’s the case every year.

"We’re a pretty strong team – and again we just work so well, we’ve got the best teamwork and processes.

"It goes back to the guys who are janitors at the factory to machine shop to here to the catering to the garage to the drivers.

"The communication and the environment – there’s no better – and that shows weekend-in and weekend-out."

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