Reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton says a repeat title in 2018 "would mean even more" because his Mercedes team is locked in a close battle with both Ferrari and Red Bull.
Back in 2017, Hamilton repeatedly made it clear how much more satisfying it was to be fighting a driver from another team in the shape of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, after three years of the title being decided in intra-team battles at Mercedes.
The challenge from the Ferrari did not stop Mercedes from winning its fourth consecutive drivers' and constructors' championship last year - but in 2018 the Silver Arrows look to be facing a sterner test, having gone win-less in the first three races as Ferrari and Red Bull shared the spoils instead.
Asked by Motorsport .com what it would mean for him to come out on top in a close battle involving two other teams, Hamilton said: "Who knows what the season holds? If it continues the way it is, it's going to be very tough to win.
"But if there's an opportunity, and we were to finish on top, it would mean even more, as it's even a tougher season than before."
Hamilton admitted that his difficult weekend in China had emphasised that Mercedes does not have the fastest car at the moment.
"It hasn't changed my thinking. My goal is obviously still the same, but it is clear from this weekend that we are not the quickest.
Read more: http://v.duta.us/DU8_ewAA