Raikkonen signs new Ferrari deal for 2018

Hamilton said "To be able to put a lap together like that is a dream".

"We were not allowed to do anything for two weeks, but now our engineers are in demand", he said.

Lewis Hamilton has appeared to pour cold water on Sebastian Vettel joining him at Mercedes after claiming his championship rival would not want to rise to the challenge of being his team-mate. "I'm here to win".

Vettel leads Hamilton by 14 points after 11 races.

"When you have been racing for so long you would think that the passion and desire to win would fade, but it is stronger than ever, and that's exciting for me". "I know he doesn't want to be my teammate", Hamilton said on Thursday. "You apply a driving style and the auto doesn't like it".

The inconsistencies experienced by Mercedes, particularly with rear balance and tire management, have come as a surprise considering how totally dominant the Silver Arrows were over the previous three years.

What's more, the look and feel of an F1 weekend in the post-Ecclestone era has been a breath of fresh air. He has driven in a total of 86 races since that most recent victory, giving him the second longest win drought among active drivers who have won at least one Formula One race before in their career (Felipe Massa - 156 races).

"I just love the track and it'll be nice seeing so many orange fans in the stands", said Red Bull's Belgium-born Dutch driver.

He definitely sounds ready to take it to Vettel.

The 27-year-old, who had a hard season with McLaren in 2013, has had seven career podium finishes but remains surprisingly under-rated.

Lewis Hamilton can certainly count himself among them and it is apt he should be starting his 200th grand prix at Spa. "I take a lot of inspiration from Serena (Williams), (Roger) Federer and (Valentino) Rossi".

Raikkonen, 38 in October, is an eye-watering 86 points behind team-mate Vettel in the championship, but has proven an able deputy to the German in this year's title battle.

Leclerc, a junior Ferrari driver, is being tipped to enter Formula 1 next season on the back of what is proving to be an incredible Formula 2 campaign for the Frenchman who is leading the standings.

Vettel has acknowledged Ferrari will be on the back foot in Spa. Mercedes has won the past two.

Hamilton, who sportingly moved over for team-mate Bottas at the last round in Hungary to finish fourth, arrives here having finished on the podium just once in his last four outings.

His move to Mercedes in 2013 brought two more championships - in 2014 and 2015 - but he missed out previous year to now-retired German team mate Nico Rosberg.

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