Ferrari future intrigues Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is ready to take up a ringside seat to watch Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen go toe to toe next season.
The buzz around the paddock at the Marina Bay Street Circuit ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix has centred on the expected duel between the two world champions from next season.
In re-signing Raikkonen on a two-year contract - after the Finn spent three years in Maranello from 2007-09 - Ferrari have abandoned their long-held tactic of using Felipe Massa to support Alonso.
Instead, Ferrari have shown clear intent to land both drivers' and constructors' titles next season by employing the strongest possible pairing, regardless of Alonso's feelings.
From the outside looking in, Hamilton is eager to view how the battle for supremacy within Ferrari will unfold.
"I think it's great, two of the best drivers in one team at Ferrari," assessed Hamilton.
"It will be interesting to see the dynamics and how it will play out. I'll sit back and watch.
"Who knows how it will work out, but at the end of the day it's going to be a strong team.
"Kimi is driving sensationally well this year, and I'm sure he'll be the same next year, and Fernando the same.
"They talk about us (Mercedes with Nico Rosberg) having the strongest driver partnership, but now it has switched over to them."
Hamilton knows first hand how difficult it can be working alongside Alonso given the volatile nature of their relationship that unfolded at McLaren in 2007.
At one stage the Spaniard demanded he become number one driver as the two men chased the title, only for him to be denied, a decision that played a part in his swift exit at the end of that year.
Hamilton and Alonso are at least more cordial towards one another these days, although whether the latter has matured enough to handle having Raikkonen as a team-mate remains to be seen.
Hamilton, however, believes Alonso to be a changed man, adding: "I feel he has grown and matured quite a lot.
"Our relationship has improved, he's had a great relationship with Felipe, and I'm sure it will be the same with Kimi."
Hamilton also now has experience of venturing into a team and going up against a driver already well established, as has been the case this year at Mercedes with Rosberg.
Even if Raikkonen has previously driven for Ferrari, it is a team that has been geared around Alonso for the last four years.
Assessing Raikkonen's situation, Hamilton said: "It's different for different people. You have different personalities.
"For me, I came in with an open mind and worked on being welcomed into the team, and to work as hard as possible with Nico.
"I knew it was his team, but hoped over time it would become our team, and I feel that's where it is now.
"Other people have different views when they join a new team - they want to go in and make it their team.
"I'm sure Kimi will want to beat Fernando, so that's why it's going to be interesting to watch."
For this weekend, Hamilton faces the task of trying to close an 81-point gap to Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings, with only 175 up for grabs.
In the immediate aftermath of his ninth place last time out in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Hamilton threw in the towel on his title hopes.
Two hours later, and on greater reflection, Hamilton had a change of heart and vowed to fight on, to seize any opportunity.
Several days on, and at a circuit where his Mercedes should be more competitive, Hamilton said: "I feel I'm a realist, so I've not come here thinking everything is going to be great. What will be will be.
"Everything from here is a bonus. I never expected to be where I am this season, so whatever lies ahead is a positive.
"We're at a point where, if we make the right decisions and put ourselves in the right position, then we can fight with them (Red Bull) to the end.
"Whether that means we can win the championship or not...hopefully it means beating the Ferraris, and that's the main goal at the moment.
"But I don't think he (Vettel) is unbeatable."
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