Formula One: Lauda warns that Hamilton will be an even stronger contender next season

Lewis Hamilton is expected to be even better next season after securing his third Formula One world title.
Lewis Hamilton is expected to be even better next season after securing his third Formula One world title.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Reuters, AFP - Retired triple world champion Niki Lauda expects Lewis Hamilton to be even better next season now that the Briton has secured his third Formula One world title.

The Austrian, who won in 1975, 1977 and 1984 and is now non-executive chairman of Hamilton's Mercedes team, said that he could see the 30-year-old adding to his tally in years to come.

"Yes, for sure. If he goes quicker every year, like he did this year, he will continue like this," said Lauda.

"He's better (than last year). If you're not better all the time, you don't win world championships," added the man who in 2012 persuaded Hamilton to leave McLaren and join Mercedes with the promise of success.

"It's very simple. He was better this year and he will be better next year."

Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said it was up to the team to keep providing Hamilton with a car as dominant as the one he has enjoyed racing in the past two years.

"I think he is capable of winning more if we are able to build a car that is going fast, and I have no doubt in our organisation, and there are many more trophies to come," said Wolff.

Hamilton, who has always spoken of his desire to match the three titles of the late Brazilian Ayrton Senna, said he would not need further motivation now he had achieved that boyhood dream.

"The motivation part is really easy, it's kind of like I was born with it so it never goes away. I really don't feel any worries about that," he told reporters after celebrating his 10th win in 16 races.

"Winning is winning and it never gets old. I still have the motivation for the next race, I want to win the next race. It just rolls over. Everything I compete in I want to win. I've not the need to search for motivation at all."

Hamilton had spoken before Sunday of how it would feel to join Senna in the all-time standings, likening it to climbing Everest and having no higher peak to climb, but he made clear he had recalibrated his ambitions.

"Niki told me about the day he just didn't enjoy it any more. Until that happens then I guess I'll keep going," he said.

"While I got this championship, I really don't feel that's it, I feel like it's just the beginning. So I'm just going to keep pushing.

"Now I've equalled it (Senna's three), I'm not looking at the others like (Alain) Prost has four, or (Juan Manuel) Fangio has five," added Hamilton. "I'm now just on my own road and will see how far I can go."

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The following is a compilation of key quotes after Hamilton sealed his third world title by winning the United States Grand Prix on Sunday:

"This is the greatest moment of my life," - Hamilton.

"I owe so much to them - my mum, my dad, my family, with all they sacrificed,"- Hamilton.

"I remember my first British Championship when my dad drove me home singing 'We Are The Champions'," - Hamilton on his early days.

"Something like that has never happened to me ever. Can't explain it. Really tough to lose the lead and the win like that," - Nico Rosberg after his error on lap 49 which handed the title to Hamilton.

"Lewis was almost faultless this year and the car didn't let him down. It is just an amazing feeling," - Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff.

"Nico could easily have won the race but Lewis drove his race to win it. It was Nico's to lose and that is what happened," - Former three-time world champion Jackie Stewart.