Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen go through their F1 Bahrain GP fight and also the key moments where the race was won and lost.
Apart from the Turn 4 incident, the fight between Mercedes’ Hamilton and Red Bull’s Verstappen was truly on in F1 Bahrain GP, as either could have had won the grand prix at one stage. The German team went aggressive with their strategy against their rival.
That almost played wrongly but Hamilton managed to hang on in the end, thanks to the off-moment from Verstappen. The Dutchman couldn’t then fight back in those last few laps, as he started to struggle behind in the dirty air of the Mercedes too.
Not just the fans enjoyed the tussle, it was the F1 drivers too, who had their share of excitement after a thrilling start to the 2021 season. Talking more about, Hamilton relayed the aggressive strategy by Mercedes and how difficult it was to manage in the end.
He added that with two to three laps to go, it became easier for him to keep Verstappen at bay. “I was struggling obviously at the end with the rear end of my car, the rear tyres had gone off,” said Hamilton in the press conference. “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 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. Probably with two laps to go or maybe the last lap, I started to feel that the job is done.
“Probably on the second to last lap when Bonno just kept going on, telling me how many laps were left. He was like ‘three laps, two laps’, and I was like ‘Bonno, I can count! I got it’. He’s just nervous. I’m grateful for Bonno, he patient with me. I think it was really the last lap. I think once I got out of Turn 4 I knew I was in a good position. 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 really got me now’.
“But I think he had the same thing,” explained Hamilton, before adding how much he loved the fight to start the 2021 season. “I loved every minute of it,” he said. “Every minute of the weekend I’ve loved. Knowing for us as a team that we were behind in performance… these guys have done a better job so far and so for us to come away with this result, given that we weren’t the fastest this weekend, is a real result.”
Hamilton was nervous about making it to the end, keeping him off, with the strategy, but they had to try it, to cover Verstappen off early in the race. The Dutchman was able to catch him at a faster pace in the earlier stints, which forced the hand of Mercedes.
While Hamilton had his share of luck, Verstappen did everything right but for the one unlucky moment at Turn 4. The Dutchman – in hindsight – had the thought of maybe not giving up the place and taking a 5s penalty. He felt confident enough to create that sort of gap from the British racer by the end of the grand prix.
As per him, it showed the importance of track position, as he explained that his tyres started to drop off plus the wind direction and other factors simply made it difficult to follow and re-pass Hamilton after the minor moment. “It just showed again that track position is super-important and, even when you think you have the better tyres, I was closing in quite comfortably but then, when I got close to Lewis, with how the wind was today in those critical low speed corners, I just had no grip,” said Verstappen.
“Of course, still better grip than Lewis – but not enough to really make a difference. Of course, that one lap I had a shot at him, but also I think the backmarker was not really helping him, giving him a bit of a snap. So, that was not idea. And then, of course, I ran a bit wide out of Turn 4, so had to give the position back. And then, it was just impossible any more to really go for it. I was always just too far behind.
“So, we’ll analyse what we can do better. Clearly today showed that track position was key, again,” summed up Verstappen, as he added a bit more on why it made it difficult to re-pass. “I was just surprised to follow,” he said. “I got into Turn 13 and I had a big oversteer and from there onwards I just didn’t have the tyres any more to attack. Of course my tyres were, I think, ten or eleven laps younger but with these cars, that advantage goes away very quickly once you get within 1.5s and like I said before, with the wind in the direction it was, it was not helping. With these cars, I think the last three years, it is very important to have track position and we gave that up.”
Here’s Valtteri Bottas on his stop and Toto Wolff’s reaction
Here’s Turn 4 saga situation with Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Toto Wolff, Christian Horner, Michael Masi