'I drove with more heart in 2016' - Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton feels he “drove with more heart” over the course of the 2016 Formula One season, despite ultimately losing out to Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the title fight.

Entering the year as reigning world champion, the Briton fell five points shy of sealing a fourth crown after an up-and-down campaign that saw him erase a 43-point gap, lead by 19 before the summer break, fall back 33 points behind Rosberg after the Japanese Grand Prix, and come back again over the final stretch of the season.

Hamilton’s progress was hampered by engine issues - including a costly failure while leading the race in Malaysia - and poor starts, but the 31-year-old still managed to secure 10 wins and 12 pole positions, the most by any driver in 2016.

“I think I probably drove with more heart this year than I ever have,” he said in Vienna at the FIA Prize Giving ceremony.

“I was faced with a lot more challenges along the way - whether you start first or fall back to eighth and have to fight back through.

“I had to dig deep, probably deeper than other years when I've started first and disappeared [into the distance]. I would say it has taken a lot more heart and a lot more courage to face challenges and overcome them.”

There were also another couple of flashpoints between Hamilton and Rosberg, as the pair took each other out on the opening lap in Spain and clashed on the final lap at the Red Bull Ring.

However, the Briton feels 2016 “has been the best” in terms of their relationship since they began fighting for the world title.

“Apart from Barcelona and Austria, there have not been any real issues. It was generally very straightforward.”

That said, when asked whether, in hindsight, he would change his controversial slow pace tactics in the title decider in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton bluntly replied: “I don’t think so”.

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