Hamilton: 2014 my best chance
Lewis Hamilton has acknowledged the 2014 season represents his best chance yet of securing a second World Championship in F1.
Mercedes have emerged at the dawn of F1's controversial new turbo era as the sport's new dominant force, usurping Red Bull as the frontrunning tormentors of the distant chasing pack.
After winning, with comfort to spare, in the season-opening Australian and Malaysia GPs, Mercedes have streaked further ahead in Bahrain, with the Silver Arrows claiming a one-two in each of the three practice sessions before monopolising the front row in qualifying with Hamilton only denied a third successive pole by team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Six years after winning his one and so far only title, the World Championship is there for the taking for Hamilton - and he knows it.
"Without a doubt," Hamilton replied when it was put to him that 2014 offered his best shot at adding a second title to his F1 CV.
Details of the innovative engine design which has powered Mercedes ahead of the field were broadcast on Saturday as part of Sky Sports F1's exclusively live coverage of the Bahrain GP, with the team's 'trick' separation of the compressor and turbine in the W05 credited as being the critical engineering secret of their hitherto-dominant 2014 success.
A fast car - especially when it is also the fastest car - always meets with a driver's approval, but for Hamilton the added, and very appreciated, bonus is that the W05's design dovetails perfectly with his aggressive driving style.
"I feel a lot more confident with this car," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. "I was really struggling with the car last year. With this car, I couldn't have asked for more - it feels part of my skin. It's a car which has been built for me."
And it shows. Last Sunday, Hamilton beat Rosberg by the jaw-dropping margin of 17 seconds in Malaysia, although it is German - something of a Bahrain specialist - who will start this weekend's race from pole. Mercedes have led every session so far this weekend in one-two formation, with their closest challengers approximately one second a lap behind.
"It's exciting but there's a long way to go," cautioned Hamilton. "I'm sure Red Bull will be adding pace, and Ferrari and McLaren will be coming back."
Yet for the time being, the race at the front is a one-car, two-driver affair, with Rosberg currently the only realistic obstacle between Hamilton and his ambition of being crowned a two-time champion.
"It's a massively intense battle with Lewis because he is extremely quick and I have to get everything all right to be ahead," remarked Rosberg on Saturday night. "We are pushing each other to the limit."
The gauntlet is down.