Lewis Hamilton feels a Mercedes 1-2 doesn’t sugar coat a bad race weekend for the reigning Formula 1 world champions and feels his team underwhelmed but lucked into its winning situation.

Both Mercedes drivers trailed Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel throughout practice and qualifying but in a hectic Bahrain Grand Prix the race turned on its head when Vettel spun off defending second place from Hamilton before runaway leader Leclerc suffered a dropped cylinder in his engine with 11 laps to go.

With Leclerc limping to the finish, losing around five seconds per lap, Hamilton swept past to take the lead and a comfortable victory ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas who also got past the 21-year-old.

Despite the results on paper, Hamilton made it clear Mercedes struggled throughout the Bahrain round while its feared pace deficit to Ferrari was confirmed before the Italian squad hit trouble.

“We are happy but we are also conscious and aware of how lucky we were to come away with a 1-2,” Hamilton said. “We all worked so hard through the weekend, as we do every weekend, but we underperformed. Naturally you have lucky weekends and this is one of those.

“We have to go away and take the points and be grateful for them as you never know when at some stage it’s flipped and we have an unfortunate weekend. We can’t be jumping around in excitement because we know that Charles did the job this weekend and should have won. Unfortunately, reliability got in the way for him.

“We were outperformed this weekend but we were surprised in the first race. I heard whispers that people think we were sandbagging or not telling the truth or all those things. We said it how it was.

“When we went to the first race I was presented where everyone’s positions and from our estimates on potential fuel loads and power modes we were behind from three to five tenths.”

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Hamilton recovered from a poor start when he slipped to fourth place by the first corner to climb up to second place, overtaking both Bottas and Vettel on track, which he accepts provided him the opportunity to attack for victory once Leclerc suffered his engine issue.

“I’m sure that overtake with Seb was quite a decisive point to enable the opportunity to win,” he said. “I was really happy with how I drove in the race. We did struggle with the balance of our car throughout and it worsened as we got more into the race.

“I was still in the mix at the start and got past Valtteri, I was happy with that manoeuvre, and had that battle with Sebastian which was awesome.

“I go away from here feeling we worked really hard and made some good steps with the set-up through the weekend, moving in the right direction. As I said this is a track that I struggle, probably one of the most out of all of them.”

Hamilton trails Bottas in the early F1 drivers’ standings by a single point having secured matching results over the opening round but the Finn has a slender advantage having taken an extra point by setting the fastest lap in Australia.

 

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