Lewis Hamilton made a sublime start to the season, racking up a nearly flawless weekend. The Brit dominated his teammate from the start and topped it off with a win at the Bahrain Grand Prix in the second-fastest car on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton's stock has once again grown in Formula 1 after he fended off the charging Red Bull of Max Verstappen in the dying stages of the race. Mercedes, for the first time in the turbo-hybrid era, have a real challenger capable of contending throughout the season. Red Bull had the fastest car in Bahrain, helped by regulations designed to cripple low-rake cars like the W12.
Speaking about the potential for a close championship battle between similarly paced cars, Lewis Hamilton admitted that he was excited that the fans would get to witness a competitive title fight:
"I’m super excited and super happy for the fans, that they are excited. I think it’s something that all the fans have wanted for a long time. Of course, this is only one race, so we don’t know what the future holds in terms of how the season will unfold."
I'll be grey by the end of this year: Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton didn't rule out the possibility that Red Bull's RB16B could be a great car on every track and potentially hold a big advantage over Mercedes. However, the Brit admitted his team will try to reel Red Bull into a closer battle in the future.
Lewis Hamilton also spoke about the length of the Formula 1 season and how the 36-year-old would be exhausted after it:
“With the pace they have, they could be ahead a lot more, but we’re going to work as hard as we can to try and stay close in this battle. I hope for many more of these sorts of races with Max and Valtteri [Bottas, who finished third in Bahrain last weekend]. There’s a long way to go. 22 [races] – holy crap! I’ll be grey by the end of this!”
Although it remains too early to predict how the season will play out, indications from the pre-season test and the Bahrain Grand Prix point towards a close championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Despite Mercedes having a slower car than Red Bull at the moment, the Brackley-based team took the checkered flag in Bahrain after a sublime drive from Lewis Hamilton. This will instill Mercedes and the Brit with confidence in their ability to keep Verstappen and Red Bull behind.
Will Red Bull still have the faster car at the next Grand Prix in Imola? Or will Mercedes reclaim the throne?