Lewis Hamilton was buzzing with confidence after winning the first race of the season in Bahrain. After holding off Max Verstappen in the latter stages of the race in a slower car, Lewis Hamilton later revealed that the victory was not easy to come by.
"It was horrifying!" Lewis Hamilton said at the post-race press conference.
"It wasn't great. I was struggling at the end with the rear end of my car, my rear tires had gone off. I think [they were] maybe eight laps older or something like that to Max's tires."
Speaking about the exhilarating final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton said:
"So I knew he was going to catch me with 10 laps to go and I was like thinking 'it's going to be almost impossible to hold him behind', which in fact it was, up until the Turn 4 incident."
Lewis Hamilton delivered a masterclass to keep the flying Dutchman behind. The seven-time world champion explained how he kept Max Verstappen at bay:
"Then after that, I was just able to just keep him behind, I managed to keep him in my wake. Well, he was right behind me, so then stuck in my wake, and it was difficult for him in certain places to get close and he ended up wide in some places, which gave me a little bit of an edge. It's a difficult track to follow."
"I loved every minute of it": Lewis Hamilton
Despite the consistent pressure involved, Hamilton revealed he "loved every minute" of the battle against Max Verstappen.
"Every minute of the weekend I've loved," said Lewis Hamilton.
"Knowing as a team that we were behind in performance – these guys [Red Bull] have done a better job so far. And so, for us to come away with this result given the fact that we weren't the fastest this weekend is a real result."
Lewis Hamilton felt he would not be able to keep Verstappen behind in the dying stages of the race. The Brit described a hilarious conversation with his race engineer on team radio:
"Bono [Peter Bonnington, Hamilton's race engineer] just kept telling me how many laps were left! He was like 'three laps, two laps' and I'm like 'Bono, I can count! I've got it!'. Lewis Hamilton said. He's just nervous, but I'm grateful for Bono and his patience with me. I think it was really the last lap – there was a point, once I got through Turn 4 I knew that I was in a good position."
Lewis Hamilton went into detail about the crucial laps:
"But then oversteer out of Turn 10, nervousness out of 11, snap oversteer in 13, which is a really bad one. And I was thinking 'that's it, he's got me now. But I think he had the same thing."
After winning the race despite having a slower car on the weekend, Mercedes have delivered the first significant blow to Red Bull. Hopefully Red Bull will bounce back in Imola, and fans will get to see another spectacular battle for the race win.