Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ better reliability in the Bahrain Grand Prix means his team did a better job than Red Bull despite the performance deficit through the race.
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were fighting for victory until the defending champion retired late in the race, promoting Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez to second and third. Perez then also hit trouble and stopped on the last lap, handing Hamilton an unexpected podium having been a distant fifth for the majority of the race.
“Every point can make a difference,” Hamilton said. “I’ve lost world titles with just one point. Whilst we’re currently not necessarily performance-wise fighting with these guys, this is…not damage limitation, but it’s a really, really great result. Of course we were fortunate but ultimately we’ve done a better job, we have better reliability. So I don’t necessarily count that all. I wouldn’t say that’s luck; I think this is the hard work of everyone.
“But it is such a long season. It’s going to be such a hard battle but we love a challenge. I really do enjoy a challenge. And it is a privilege…for all of us to be able to work with large teams of people who are hungry, who are focused on a common goal. There’s no greater feeling when you all come together and you get a result like this.”
Hamilton sees the third place as a major boost for Mercedes, having been faced with significant performance issues throughout pre-season testing and at the first race, as George Russell backed him up with fourth.
“(It’s) huge, honestly. I think incredibly motivating probably for the whole team. Given that we have been faced with these challenges which we were not expecting, and no one’s been down during this phase where we’ve been struggling through practice. Everyone’s stayed positive, everyone’s just kept their head down and kept working. No one’s moaned. And that’s great to see.
“And so whilst we don’t have the performance of these other guys, I think, in terms of our processes, in terms of squeezing absolutely everything out of the car, I think that’s what we did today for both drivers, and I think that’s a true showing of strength within.”