Sebastian Vettel says 'common passion' is key to positive Lewis Hamilton rivalry

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Sebastian Vettel says the good-natured atmosphere between himself and main 2017 title rival Lewis Hamilton is down to the "common passion" the pair share for racing.

Vettel and Hamilton have won seven of the last nine world championships, but this is the first year they've been able to go head-to-head properly. After four races of battling by proxy the two men went wheel to wheel in Spain, with Vettel aggressively defending the lead at one point with a wheel-banging move on the Mercedes driver.

Though they disagreed over the incident after the race, they did so with a laugh, and Vettel says the two men have a mutual respect from their love of what they do.

"I think we have a great common passion -- we love racing," Vettel said. "Outside the track we are not best friends, I have known him for a long time but I don't have a problem with him. I think we are very different but I don't think that matters. It shouldn't matter.

"I didn't want him to win, I wanted to win, so not entirely happy but at the same time I have nothing to complain or moan about as he drove past us on the track and they did a better job as a team. He did a better job as a driver so there is nothing we can do about it now."

Though Vettel and Hamilton both spoke of their enjoyment of the closely-fought battle at the Circuit de Catalunya, the German says his and Ferrari's main goal is to ensure they don't become a regular occurance.

"We're very happy when we have the chance to race Mercedes. They have been proving over and over the last couple of years that they are the team to beat and we are so far giving them a good run for their money. So I think we can be very happy, but today we're not entirely happy because the win was there, the car was good enough, but the way the race happened it wasn't meant to be.

"But the most important thing is we're there once again, fighting and not much missing at the end. The car is good, the team is in great form and we know that we need to improve. We don't want to battle with them closely, we want to be ahead of them. So obviously it's nice to have close battles but you want to have them in your favour at the end of the race which today wasn't the case, but that's how it goes sometimes."