Lewis Hamilton fended off younger challenger Max Verstappen in one of many hardest battles of his Formula One profession in Bahrain on Sunday and mentioned he had liked each minute of it.
Mercedes’ seven occasions world champion took the chequered flag within the season-opener with lower than a second separating him from his Red Bull rival after absorbing intense stress over the closing laps in a protracted ultimate stint on laborious tyres.
Verstappen had reeled in Hamilton steadily to grab the lead with 4 laps to go after going behind on technique however in doing so ran large, outdoors the observe limits, and needed to hand again the benefit. There was to be no second likelihood.
The Dutch 23-year-old had been quickest in pre-season testing, topped all three observe periods, secured pole place and was the new race favorite.
“I think ultimately if he hadn’t made the mistake he probably would have won the race, but that’s what makes and loses you wins,” mentioned Hamilton, who took his profession tally to a record-extending 96.
Formula One has for years been ready for a correct battle between the game’s most profitable driver and the person tipped to be his successor and Sunday delivered spherical one in a document 23-race season.
“I loved every minute of it. Every minute of the weekend I’ve loved,” mentioned Hamilton.
“These guys (Red Bull) have done a better job so far and so for us to come away with this result, given that we weren’t the fastest this weekend, is a real result.”
Verstappen had led from the beginning however Mercedes pitted Hamilton early to attempt to get a bounce on the Red Bull, with the lead switching between the 2 on differing tyre methods.
“Stopping early, we knew it was going to be difficult but we had to cover Max. They’ve had amazing performance all weekend so it was going to take something pretty special,” mentioned the Briton “Max was all over me right at the end.”
“The pressure was immense.
“He’s a fantastic driver and they have the quicker car so to keep him behind, on fresh tyres also, was one of the hardest (challenges) that I’ve had for a while.”
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