Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton finished third in Bahrain after starting ninth. In this picture, Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP prepares to drive on the grid before the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit, April 8, 2018. Charles Coates/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton is already thinking about the Formula 1 Drivers’ world championship despite the 2018 season being just two races old. There are 19 more races until the end of the season.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took his second win of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday to increase his lead in the championship over Hamilton to 17-points and the Mercedes driver is aware he cannot fall further behind despite the Briton having overturned a 25-point deficit on his way to the title in 2017.

Hamilton was favorite to win at the season opening Australian Grand Prix in March, but a computer glitch for the Mercedes team handed the win to Vettel, who was looking at third place before the slice of good fortune came his way.

Bahrain, on the other hand, was well deserved with Ferrari having outpaced Mercedes throughout the course of the race weekend. Vettel qualified on pole position while Hamilton started in ninth place having taken a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Apart from the few laps after his pit stop, Vettel led all the laps during the Bahrain Grand Prix. It looked like the Mercedes team had opted for a smarter strategy when they chose a one-stop race, but Ferrari’s German driver drove a smart race and saved his tires until the end and defended well from a charging Valtteri Bottas, who finished second.

Hamilton admitted Bahrain was all about damage control having started from ninth place, and was happy with his final result — third place, which was aided by retirements for Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.

The next race is in less than a weeks’ time at the Shanghai International Circuit, China, and Hamilton is keen to get back to winning ways on circuit where he has won five times in the past. The Mercedes team struggled in the hot temperatures at the desert circuit, but should be competitive again when they travel to the Far East, where the weather and track will suit the Silver Arrows car.

"My thoughts are already on the world championship," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 after the race in Bahrain. "I've lost two races now. I am 17 points down already after just two races.”

"Obviously the [grid] penalty this weekend was difficult for us all to swallow, but I think the team did a really good job. … Hopefully when we go to the next race we'll have a better understanding of the tyres and hopefully put up a better fight with the Ferraris,” the four-time F1 world champion added.

Hamilton, meanwhile, has hit back at Red Bull Racing driver Verstappen, after the pair collided early in the race. The Dutchman blamed the reigning champion, but replays showed he gave the Mercedes driver no room to maneuver, resulting in the latter’s front wing brushing the former’s left rear tire.

Verstappen suffered a puncture and had to continue the entire length of the lap on three wheels, which in-turn damaged his diffuser. The Red Bull driver came out with a fresh set of supersoft tires, but then pulled up a lap later to make it a miserable evening for the Austrian team, who had already lost Ricciardo’s car to a technical fault.

The Dutch driver blamed Hamilton for the incident during his post-retirement chat with the media, and was annoyed the race stewards did not take action against the Mercedes driver. Hamilton, however, was in no mood to take the criticism and hit back at Verstappen.

There needs to be a certain respect between drivers," Hamilton was quoted as saying on Sky Sports F1. "And ultimately… maybe I need to go and watch the maneuver again, but it didn't feel like a respectful maneuver. ... It was a silly maneuver for himself, because he didn't finish the race. And obviously he's tending to make quite a few mistakes recently, so it was just unnecessary for him to do that."