Lewis Hamilton admitted that Mercedes AMG Motorsport was “outperformed” by Scuderia Ferrari throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.
Hamilton profited from a late reliability problem for the polesitter and leader for the majority of the race, Charles Leclerc, to take a 74th career victory in Formula 1 and a third at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Starting from third, Hamilton initially lost out to team-mate Valtteri Bottas but managed to regain track position after a lock-up on lap two of the 57-lap race from the Finn.
The five-times champion also enjoyed a lengthy battle with the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel that spanned the length of the first two tyre stints, before the German spun when being overtaken by Hamilton on the outside of Turn 4 on lap 38.
Hamilton said that Metcedes was highly fortunate to take a second consecutive 1-2 to start the 2019 season and graciously praised Leclerc for his pace through the weekend.
“It was very tricky out there today and I had to give it everything I had,” said Hamilton.
“We were very, very lucky to get this 1-2, Ferrari outperformed us all weekend.
“Ultimately you want to have a real fight and want to pass someone because you’re quicker, so it feels a bit weird and you can’t quite believe your luck in these scenarios.
“I have been in similar situations and I know how it feels, but Charles did a great job all weekend long and has a beautiful, bright future ahead of him.”
Hamilton refrained from predicting how the next few races in China, Azerbaijan and Spain – where the first wave of upgrades come, typically – but said that Bahrain was a race where Ferrari equalled Mercedes’ dominance in Australia two weeks’ ago.
The Brit also said that reliability could play a key role in this year’s championship, as shown by Leclerc’s misfortune.
After breezing past the 21-year-old, Hamilton complained that some of his downshifts were feeling “clunky” but it transpired that it was a non-issue.
“We’ve only had two races; one where we were rapid and far ahead, one where Ferrari had the upper hand,” added Hamilton.
“It’s hard to say how the next races are going to pan out, but I anticipate that it will be a tough fight and that it will be a back and forth between the two teams.
“We need to keep working hard to see where we went wrong this weekend and to see where we can improve the car, but as we saw again today, reliability also plays an important role, so we need to keep working on all areas.
“We’ll take the points we got today and move forward to China.”