In a thrilling finish to the race, Lewis Hamilton managed to hold off Max Verstappen to take the win, and he had to do it on old worn down tyres. The Briton was quite happy with this amazing start to the 2021 season.
“Wow, what a difficult race that was,” Lewis said after the race.
“Definitely stopping early, we knew it was going to be difficult but we had to cover Max. They’ve had an amazing performance all weekend. So it would take something really special.
“We stopped for that last stint and were trying to find the right balance between not pushing too much and having tyres that were alive the end of the race.
“It was difficult and Max was all over me right at the end, but we just about managed to hold him off. It was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while, so I’m really grateful for it.
“Massively thankful to the men and women back at the factory and the guys, and here also, for continuously pushing the boundaries and never giving up even if we did feel we were behind.”
The win is even sweeter considering Lewis thought Mercedes would be more than half a second slower than Red Bull.
“It was so hard in the car today but what a great event, and this is a really good start for us. Through testing we thought that we were going to be six to eight tenths behind.
“So the work that’s going on the last week has been spectacular and I’m just so proud to see everyone’s so hyped for today as well,” concluded Hamilton.
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Valtteri Bottas didn’t have such a great race, mostly due to Mercedes’ botched pit stop that lasted more than 10 seconds. Ultimately he did manage to finish in P3 and also took home the fastest lap point.
“It’s disappointing,” said the Finn.
“As a team, we scored good points. My strategy was a lot more defensive instead of attacking, which surprised me.
“It wasn’t ideal and then I had a slow pit stop that took even more chances away from us. The pace was good.
“We had two cars on different strategies that could fight, but there was more in it today,” concluded Bottas.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was obviously pleased after the race.
“I think it was a great battle of strategies,” the Austrian told Sky Sports F1.
“The pace, at the beginning Max had it under control. And we took a bold move pitting so early and gained a position. Then we thought we are doing the same to prevent against the undercut.”
In the closing laps of the race Max Verstappen managed to overtake Lewis for P1, but had to give up his position because he exceeded track limits during the overtake.
“He had a tiny mistake and had to give back the position. We were suddenly told in the race that track limits were imposed and that won us the race today.
“For the first race, I see these guys are a tiny bit ahead of us,” concluded Wolff.