Lewis Hamilton admitted the Bahrain Grand Prix was ‘demanding’ all the way through, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen pushing him all the way to the chequered flag.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver appeared to dominate at the Bahrain International Circuit, but the Briton said Verstappen’s pace meant he could not relax, but he had just enough pace in his W11 to stay ahead.
Hamilton admitted his main concern was towards the end of the race when Red Bull opted for a third stop for Verstappen, to which he did not respond with a stop of his own, but the timing of the second safety car of the day prevented any chance for the Dutchman to attack on fresher tyres.
“Physically it was such a demanding race,” said Hamilton. “Max pushed me all the way and he had a lot of speed today. I was struggling a little bit with the car sliding around, but I just had enough to be able to respond to Max’s quick laps when it mattered.
“I was a little cautious how it would play out at the end of the race once Max pitted, but I’m so thankful to my team because they made the right calls all day on the strategy. What a privilege it is to be able to get another result like this.”
“Hopefully, I’ll have better luck next weekend” – Valtteri Bottas
Whereas Hamilton was charging to the win, it was another day of bad luck for team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with an earlier puncture necessitating an unscheduled trip to the pit lane. He was thus forced to fight his way through the field and ultimately finished eighth.
It could have been worse for the Finn, who crossed the line with another puncture, although the safety car prevented him from falling out of the points.
Bottas says he will put this weekend behind him and focus on next weekend’s second race in Bahrain, the Sakhir Grand Prix, which will take place on the outer loop of the Bahrain International Circuit.
“I had a puncture at the restart of the race; I don’t think there was any contact and I didn’t see any debris either, so I’m not quite sure what caused it,” said Bottas.
“I tried fighting my way through the field, but we had a bigger wing than most of the others, so it wasn’t easy to get through the train of cars. At the very end, I had yet another puncture, but fortunately that was under the Safety Car and I didn’t lose any more positions.
“I’ll need to look at what I can do better next week; the track layout will be different, but a lot of the characteristics will also stay the same, so there’s certainly a lot to learn from this week. Hopefully, I’ll have better luck next weekend.”