Hamilton expecting tough hat-trick fight

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Lewis Hamilton is steeling himself for more of a fight from his title rivals this weekend as he bids to win three grands prix in a row for the first time.

Although Hamilton was left grumbling about his Mercedes towards the end of the second practice session for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix, the 29-year-old still managed to again outpace the rest.

“Something’s not right with this car,” moaned Hamilton late in the second 90-minute run at a chilly Shanghai International Circuit where temperatures only managed to reach 16 degrees centigrade.

That followed a mechanical problem with the rear suspension that restricted Hamilton running in the first session.

Yet despite the niggles, Hamilton topped the timesheet for the third time in the four Friday outings this season, finishing with a lap of one minute 38.315 seconds, with Fernando Alonso 0.141secs adrift in a Ferrari seemingly more competitive in the cooler conditions.

After winning the last two races in Malaysia and Bahrain, Hamilton is far from convinced he and team-mate Nico Rosberg will have it all their own way again this weekend.

“It was quite a difficult day as we missed some of Friday morning’s session which put us on the back foot slightly,” said Hamilton.

“But we were glad to get some laps in the second session at least, although we’re not too happy with the balance of the car at the moment so we need to work on that.

“A few of the other teams look to have improved in terms of pace, which is great as it means we will have a fight.”

With new Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci in town on the first day of his new job, Alonso chose the perfect opportunity to prove the Prancing Horse is alive and kicking this season.