Hamilton: Bahrain another chance to prove 'it's the car' critics wrong

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Lewis Hamilton says his victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix was another chance to prove his "it's the car" critics wrong.

Mercedes was certainly second best to Red Bull in qualifying at the 2021 Formula 1 season opener, while in the race, the balance ebbed and flowed as the different strategies of the teams played out.

However, after just about holding off a charging Max Verstappen in the closing laps, it certainly felt like Hamilton had produced an upset win, handing a blow to those who argue his status as a seven-time world champion is only due to Mercedes' domination.

“I think it was definitely a blessing, perhaps in disguise. I think there’s always a chance, opportunities to prove people wrong, and I like to think that was definitely one of them," he said.

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“But I think there have been many in the past, obviously, I’ve been around a long time – but I hope there are many opportunities in the future to be able to show what I’m able to do.

“We don’t have the fastest car at the moment but that’s all good for me. I don’t mind having to pull out extra in order to make the difference.”

Reflecting on the tense final stint, Hamilton conceded even he was pessimistic about keeping Verstappen at bay.

“It was horrifying!" he joked.

"It wasn’t great. I was struggling obviously at the end with the rear end of my car, my rear tyres had gone off and I think they were maybe eight laps older, maybe more, than Max’s tyres.

“I knew he was going to catch me with 10 laps to go and I was thinking ‘it’s going to be pretty much impossible to hold him behind’, which in fact it was, up until the Turn 4 incident.

“I couldn’t believe I was just able to just keep him behind. I managed to keep him in my wake, and then it was difficult for him in certain places to get close," Hamilton admitted.

“I think it was the last lap [when] there was a point, I think once I got out of Turn 3 I knew I was in a good position.

“But then [there was] 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.”

Despite the tension and the hard work, Hamilton admits he relished it all.

“Every minute of the weekend I’ve loved,” he said. “And [more so] knowing, I think for us as a team, we knew 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."