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"It was horrifying," admits Hamilton

NEWS STORY
29/03/2021

For race fans around the world it was thrilling, but for Lewis Hamilton, as he sought to escape his relentless pursuer, it was horrifying.

The world champion, who had gone for the undercut earlier in the race, did it again just 15 laps later, switching to his second successive set of new hards. Max Verstappen, on the other hand, made his second stop 11 laps later, switching from the mediums used in his second stint to hards also.

With 17 laps remaining, the Dutchman set about reeling in his rival, who was by now 8s up the road.

As Verstappen posted a string of fastest sector times, Hamilton was warned that the Red Bull would be with him in "eleven laps".

"Make sure you've got enough tyres to challenge when you approach him," the Dutchman was told as he ramped up the pressure and closed on the Mercedes.

While the Red Bull driver lost vital time behind a battling Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton, on being given advice by his engineer, Pete Bonnington, calmly replied: "Leave me to it Bono".

"I'll leave you to it," came the reply, "just let me know if you need anything." A herbal essence, a demi tasse?

With 7 laps remaining Verstappen was now suffering the effect of his rivals' dirty air.

A mistake from the world champion saw the Mercedes lock-up, and suddenly the gap was less than a second, Verstappen was within DRS range.

The pair closed on Antonio Giovinazzi, sparking memories of Spa 2000, when Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher continued their famous battle as they passed on either side of Riccardo Zonta.

Verstappen makes his move and passes Hamilton, going around the outside of the Mercedes in Turn 4. However, the corner has been the centre of controversy all weekend and having gained an advantage – note those particular words - by exceeding the track limits, much to his disagreement, Verstappen is told to hand the position back.

The battle resumes, and while Verstappen continues to hound his foe, it is to no avail and opportunity never presents itself again.

As they begin the final lap, Hamilton has a 0.936s advantage, as they cross the line it is down to 0.745.

"Wow, what a difficult race that was!" said Hamilton in the moments after the race. "Stopping early we knew was going to be difficult, but we had to cover Max.

"They have had amazing performance all weekend," he continued. "So it was going to take something pretty special.

"We suffered in that last stint and trying to find the right balance between not pushing too much and having tyres at the end of the race was difficult and Max was all over me right at the end. But I just about managed to hold him off.

"It was one of the hardest races I've had for a while," he admitted.

Asked what it was like in the cockpit, the Briton replied: "It was horrifying! It wasn't great...

"I was struggling obviously at the end with the rear end of my car, the rear tyres had gone off. They were maybe eight laps older or something like that to Max's tyres, so I knew that he was going to catch me with 10 laps to go and I knew that it was going to be pretty much impossible to hold him behind, which it was, up until the Turn 4 incident.

"Then after that I couldn't believe that I was just abler to keep him behind. I managed to keep him in my wake, well, he was right behind me so then stuck in my wake and that meant it was difficult for him 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 on which to follow."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Wokingchap, 29/03/2021 15:10

"Those last 10 laps were so exciting, brilliant stuff and just what we all want. Not sure how many races Lewis will be able to keep Max behind him this year but keep it comming please."

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