Monday 19 April 2021
 
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NAIL BITING FINAL 5 LAPS

Hamilton wins thrilling F1 Grand Prix season opener in Bahrain

MANAMA, 22 days ago

In a fascinating conclusion to the opening race of the year, Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton won the season-opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, crossing the line just 0.7 seconds ahead of rival Max Verstappen.
 
Hamilton won a nail-biting Bahrain F1 opener, triumphing over the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in a fantastic duel in the desert that went down to the very last lap of the race, as the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas completed the podium.
 
Putting a stopper on the Red Bull’s charge, Hamilton defied the odds to hold off Verstappen and win the Bahrain Grand Prix.
 
Starting from the fourth pole position of his career, Verstappen had taken control of the race early on, but lost his advantage when Hamilton was able to undercut the Dutchman into the lead in the first round of pit stops.
 
Following a second stop for both drivers – Verstappen’s coming 10 laps after Hamilton’s – a thrilling finale was set up, Verstappen eating into Hamilton’s lead before attempting a pass on Lap 53 but running too wide and giving the place back, reported F1's official portal.
 
That would be Verstappen’s last opportunity, with Hamilton able to hold on until the flag to take his 96th career win by less than a second – while Hamilton also passed Michael Schumacher’s record of 5,111 for the most laps led in F1 history.
 
Behind the duelling lead pair, Bottas finished a distant third after a late stop to successfully gain the fastest lap bonus point, while Lando Norris equalled his result from the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix with a fantastic drive to fourth for Bahrain-owned McLaren.
 
Bottas had set the fastest lap of one minute 32.090 seconds, while taking third place, nine seconds ahead of Bahrain-owned McLaren’s Lando Norris.
 
Following the big win, Hamilton said: "Wow. What a difficult race that was. Stopping early we knew would be difficult but we had to cover Max, they have had an amazing performance all weekend."
 
"We suffered the last stint. Max was all over me at the end and I was just about able to hold him off. "That was one of the hardest races I've had for a while," he stated.
 
"I definitely am. Each year they are talking about when you hit your peak and timing is everything. I think I am at that and Max is doing really well at the moment. I love the challenge," said an ecstatic Hamilton.
 
Verstappen appeared to have won the grand prix after driving past Hamilton around the outside of Turn 4, with just three laps remaining, said media reports.
 
But the Dutchman was instructed by his team to give the position back to Hamilton, fearing their star driver would be penalised by the stewards for running off the track.
 
Hamilton then managed to keep Verstappen at arm's length for the concluding laps to win the 96th race of his life in his pursuit of an unprecedented eighth world title.
 
A strangely tactical race appeared to fall in the direction of the Red Bull driver, only for Hamilton to produce one of the great defensive drives of his life.
 
In a titanic scrap, Verstappen almost passed Hamilton with three laps remaining. Hamilton refused to budge. Verstappen ran wide at Turn 4 as they contested the lead.
 
Standing with his hands on his hips, Verstappen, who started from pole position, said: "It is a shame but you have to see the positive because we are taking the fight to them."



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