I'm still racing Rosberg - Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has been forced to defend himself in the wake of his dominant season-opening victory in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished well clear of the chasing pack
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished well clear of the chasing pack

Hamilton started the new campaign as he ended his title-winning year of 2014 - with a well-deserved triumph, the 34th of his career and seventh in the last eight races overall.

But such was the margin of success, with Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg 30 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel on his debut for Ferrari in third, the critics are already firing barbs at Mercedes.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner led the way post-race as he fears fans will turn their back on the sport if nothing is done to rein in the German manufacturing giant.

There are also those who will trot out the line Hamilton is winning simply because he has the best car, an accusation levelled at Vettel on his way to landing four titles in a row from 2010 to 2013.

In response, Hamilton said: "If I was 30 seconds ahead every race then maybe (the critics would have a point).

"But we (himself and Rosberg) are racing, and ultimately I still have to get the better of another very, very good driver.

"Sebastian had no one behind pushing him. At least I've got my team-mate, who I am really racing. I don't remember that ever being the case with Red Bull.

"But this is how Formula One is. If you want to put someone in the same car there is no doubt in my mind of where I would be finishing.

"People can create their own opinions. Ultimately it's irrelevant. It is how it is.

"As a team, these results - while I'm the one who crosses the line - there are over 1,000 people who make them, so I'm a very small piece of the equation, a very, very small piece.

"People say it's all the car, well, it's a big team that built this car for this performance. I'm the one who has to get in and extract the best from it.

"As far as I'm aware there has never been a driver that has won the championship that hasn't had a great car that year.

"There's no one who had a car like a Marussia and won is there?

"(Juan Manuel) Fangio still had a great car. It's the name of the game. You've got to have great equipment as well.

"I've got the car now, I'm not taking anything for granted, but I'm driving the way I am and executing it."

Hamilton has an ally in fellow Briton and 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who feels it is up to the other teams to rise to Mercedes' level and challenge.

"It obviously would be better if there were people fighting at the front that weren't just in a Mercedes," said Button.

"But it's not Mercedes' fault. It's everyone else's fault that they're not competitive.

"I agree in one way, but would Red Bull be upset about it if they were the team out front by one second? No.

"No one else is doing a good enough job and Mercedes have done a fantastic job again."

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