Lewis Hamilton called his brilliant Bahrain GP win one of the toughest of his career after he just managed to outfox team mate Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton snuck past the pole man at the start, and survived a series of attacks from Rosberg, who was handed a second chance when the safety car cut the gap before the final sprint to the flag.
“This weekend started off well and then I seemed to lose pace while Nico picked up his pace,” said Hamilton. “Today, I knew I needed to get a good start and things generally went my way, except when the pace car came out.
“I think the last time I had a race like that would probably be Indianapolis, 2007. So, a long, long time. Nico drove fantastically well. When you’re with you’re team-mate it’s very, very hard to make the right decisions of where to put your car, where to brake, all these different things, but yeah, it was great.”
Hamilton admitted it wasn’t easy to fend off Rosberg in the final stint, when the German had the advantage of the softer tyre.
“It was incredibly tough. As I said, it was one of the toughest situations I’ve been in for a long time. The Option tyre, for us, we believe it is worth six-and-a-half tenths. To hold that behind, to keep him out of my gap, out of my slipstream and the DRS was very, very hard. To be pushing flat out for ten laps…
“It was an exceptional race, I think, to be able to have that. Me and Nico haven’t had a race like that since back in our karting days. I did think today, I was just saying to him today, there was a race we did years ago in… I don’t know what year it was, in karting, our first race together. He was leading the whole way and in the last lap I overtook him and won the race. I thought today for sure he’s going to do the same to me, and get me back. That’s what was going through my head.”
Regarding how close their fight was, he said: “A lot of times he was in my blind spot and I had no idea if he was there or not, so I tried to leave space. You don’t know whether he’s attacking or braking later into the next corner because you don’t even know where he is. That was very difficult.
“But for me it feels like a long time that I’ve been able to have a real racer’s race and really use whatever skills that I’ve acquired over the years as a youngster in karting. Being able to apply them in Formula One is a lot harder but to be able to pull them out of the bag and use them again… The time that I went round the outside or got back, just timing it right – you know, it’s a fantastic feeling to be able to do that. It’s one of the greatest feelings when you obviously come out on top.”