Relinquishing the 2016 world championship to Nico Rosberg was a motivation for Lewis Hamilton to raise his game says Williams technical director Paddy Lowe.

Hamilton successfully defended his Formula 1 crown this season as he clinched his fifth drivers’ title in Mexico, a feat only bettered by Michael Schumacher.

The Briton’s only defeat in the V6 hybrid era was to former team-mate Rosberg when the two fought for the championship two years ago, and Lowe believes this loss urged Hamilton to “strengthen his game”.

“I think he’s driven two terrific seasons,” said Lowe as quoted by, who worked alongside Hamilton at McLaren and Mercedes.

“Two of his strongest seasons of all these last two years.

“The 2016 year was one he didn’t win and he probably believes he could have won it so that was a good motivation for him to understand how to strengthen his game. And we’ve seen that the last two years.”

Hamilton has seen off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on way to his two most recent triumphs, with Lowe impressed at how the 33-year-old has “outclassed” his nearest rival two years on the trot.

“He’s become a very difficult driver to beat,” Lowe added. “We’ve seen Sebastian has struggled to beat him this year. There have been losses in all sorts of different area but even just as a driver matching I think Lewis has outclassed Sebastian.

“That’s been one of the mismatches, there have been other mismatches in terms of the teamwork. One team has performed better than the other team top to bottom. But on top of it all is Lewis who’s just a phenomenal driver.”