Praise for Lewis Hamilton’s amazing drive in Bahrain is coming from all sides. One of the people praising the seven-time champion’s performance is his old Mercedes boss Ross Brawn.
“This was a race that featured a host of sensational drives, but Hamilton most deserves this accolade after a scintillating drive that was among the very best of his career,” Brawn wrote in his Formula1.com column.
“He simply drove brilliantly, pacing his tyres really well and posing a quiet threat throughout the race, despite not having the fastest car in the field.
“There were one or two little moments where he faltered under pressure from Verstappen, but each time he held on remarkably and held firm in mighty impressive fashion.”
The Briton is encouraged by the prospect of a season-long battle between Mercedes and Red Bull.
“What is really encouraging for the season ahead is that on first measure, there is nothing between Mercedes and Red Bull, and Hamilton and Verstappen.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix was all about strategy and having the track position advantage – and Mercedes came out on top this time with their more aggressive approach.
“Both Verstappen and Hamilton were worthy winners, but ultimately, it was Hamilton who drove the better race. Verstappen got a bit ragged at the end.
“But make no mistake, this was a fantastic race, the kind where the win was decided on the very finest of margins.
“The rule changes over the winter appear to have closed the field up. With teams set to focus fairly soon on next year’s car, it may be that nobody pulls away to any degree and we have an epic season in front of us.
“When Verstappen caught Hamilton, he couldn’t stay behind and stay in the sweet spot for long enough to launch attack after attack because the tyres were overheating.
“That’s what we are trying to cure with the 2022 regulations, so the future is bright.”
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Brawn also praised Valtteri Bottas, who managed to finish third and pick up a point for fastest lap, despite Mercedes’ pit stop mistake costing him around 10 seconds. Brawn said Bottas “showed impressive pace throughout the race but was undone with a poor pit stop”.
The Briton was also impressed by Mercedes’ performance, as it seemed the team was lagging behind Red Bull in pre-season testing, all of the Bahrain Grand Prix free practice sessions, as well as in qualifying.
“I wasn’t particularly surprised that Mercedes failed to shine at pre-season testing. When I was at the team, we always had a set of priorities which didn’t involve setting the fastest lap times.
“Analysis of data is so good these days, you can work out where you are. So you don’t need to shine in testing. And in a way having that little deficit drives the team harder.
“I must say, the car looked a lot a better in the race, it had definitely settled down. It’s clear they had made impressive progress in the days between the test and the first race.”
And in the end Brawn gave his comments on the somewhat controversial end to the Bahrain Grand Prix. In the final stages of the race, Max Verstappen managed to overtake Hamilton by going wide and exceeding track limits. Race control asked Red Bull to give back the position or face a penalty for gaining an illegal advantage, and both Red Bull and Verstappen himself complied.
“I think Red Bull made the right call to tell Verstappen to give the position back to Hamilton, after he ran wide on passing the defending champion. Max Verstappen was understandably disappointed after the race – but his day will surely come…
“If Verstappen had pulled out a sufficient gap after an infringement and won the race, that would have left a nasty taste.
“We don’t want to see races won in that manner,” concluded Brawn.