Lewis Hamilton has warned that his relationship with Sebastian Vettel could be worse than it was at the end of 2017 as he expects it to be closer between the two title rivals in the upcoming Formula 1 campaign.

The Briton, won his fourth drivers' title to equal the Ferrari driver, despite trailing him until the 13th race of the season at Monza. The Mercedes driver took the lead in Italy and kept it as he claimed the championship at the Mexican Grand Prix, which was two races prior to the end of the season.

The pair enjoyed a cordial relationship in the first-half of the season as they shared race victories and podium places, but it all changed after the race in Baku. Vettel barged into Hamilton after accusing the Briton of brake testing him during a safety car period, which deteriorated their relationship.

The Silver Arrows driver branded it disgraceful and later revealed that he had warned Vettel about similar behaviour in the future. Hamilton admits that the 2018 season could again see their relationship deteriorate as they battle for the title and admitted that he is going into the season "expecting the worst".

It was the first time that Mercedes were challenged for the title by another team since the V6 hybrid era began and Hamilton expects the challenge to persist and made it clear that he is ready to perform better than he did last season.

"You have to expect it could be worse," Hamilton said at the launch of the new Mercedes F1 car the W09, as quoted by the Guardian.

"Expect the worst and hopefully it will be better. This year, given the fact it is going to be a closer season, we have no idea what we are going to face.

"Last year was a positive year in handling the different situations that I faced and I will be even better this year. I am focused on making sure I perform at my best. Hopefully if I am performing at my best there will be issues – because they will be upset about it," the British driver added.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is expecting his relationship with Sebastian Vettel to get worse in 2018 Getty