Hamilton thinks it will be more satisfying to beat title rivals if they're driving well.

F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton wants his rivals to be at their best in 2018 because he relishes the prospect of making their defeat 'hurt so much'. Hamilton clinched his fourth title last season after seeing off Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari as Mercedes was regularly challenged for the first time in F1's V6 turbo-hybrid engine era.

Mercedes has talked up Ferrari and Red Bull ahead of the 2018 campaign and Hamilton said his preference would be to take on his rivals in a straight fight. Asked whether his rivalry with Vettel would become psychological after a couple of on-track scrapes in 2017, Hamilton said: 'I don't play psychological war. Never, ever, ever have. My psychological war is I arrive fit and ready and I'm there to kill, and others know I'm good at what I do.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, in the press conference

'I don't think the best athletes want to put the others off so they perform worse. They want to perform at their best so they can prove they are better than them. Beating someone when they are weak doesn't mean you're the best. That sucks. If you ever believe you are the best because you beat someone when they are down, that's the worst.

'I want to beat these guys at their best, when they are physically in the best shape, because then it's going to hurt so much. And that's what I love.'

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Hamilton is expected to sign a new contract that would likely extend his relationship with Mercedes to at least the end of the 2020 season. Asked what he thinks when he imagines life after F1, Hamilton joked it would be 'very long'. He revealed he has multiple projects he is already working on that he would like to devote more time to when his F1 career ends.

Hamilton said: 'You're a long time retired. It's never going to be the same. It's an adrenaline rush, a rollercoaster ride. If you've been to a theme park – racing F1 for a season is a hundred times better than that. There's lots and lots to do afterwards. I'm not standing still. I'm not just focusing on racing.

'I focus so I'm 100 percent prepared and do the job to the best of my ability, but also I have lots of spare energy. I'm trying to build foundations so when I stop I can say "thank you so much, I appreciate everything" and I move the next day on to a new project that I'm excited and passionate about.'

Source: Motorsport.com

Gallery: F1 driver Lewis Hamilton