Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari will replace Mercedes as the team with the strongest driver pairing in Formula 1 next year.
Mercedes is the only team to have had both its drivers -- Hamilton and Nico Rosberg -- win a race this year. But with Ferrari replacing Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton thinks that his Italian rivals are set to deliver the best pairing.
"We want to beat them," said Hamilton when asked for his thoughts on Ferrari's decision to sign Raikkonen. "This year we can beat them in the constructors' [championship] but at the end of the day it is going to be a stronger team.
"Kimi is driving sensationally well this year, so I assume he will do the same next year. Fernando is driving sensationally well. They talk about us having the strongest driver lineup, and now I think it has switched over to them."
Hamilton has said he is intrigued by how the Raikkonen/Alonso partnership will work though, with several people suggesting it could lead to friction inside the team.
"I think it is great," he said. "You have two of the best drivers in one team at Ferrari. It is interesting to see the dynamics and how it will play out. I will sit back and watch...I am not going to say anything to add to any suggestions!"
Hamilton does think, however, that Alonso will probably deal with intra-team rivalries better than when he clashed with Hamilton at McLaren in 2007.
"I feel we have both grown and matured quite a lot," he said. "Our relationship, as you know, has improved quite a lot. I am sure he has had a great relationship with Felipe and I assume he will have the same with Kimi."