Lewis Hamilton admits it felt “weird” passing an ailing Charles Leclerc on his way to claiming an unlikely victory at the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Leclerc had dominated and looked set for his maiden F1 victory when a cylinder on his Ferrari engine packed in, leaving him struggling home to third place as Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas both passed him with ease. 

Hamilton raised an apologetic hand to Leclerc as he overtook him in the closing stages, before consoling the 21-year-old after claiming a rather fortunate win - the 74th of his career. 

F1 Driver Ratings - Bahrain Grand Prix

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"Ultimately you want to pass someone because you're quicker than them and it's been a fight," Hamilton said. 

”I went past Charles on the back straight and I raised my hand to him because there was nothing I could do, I didn't have any problems.

”It feels weird and honestly you can't believe your luck in that scenario, but what can you do? You can't deny yourself, you just have to keep doing what you do. 

“I've been in positions like that before, where you've been in the lead and the car has stopped, so I know how it feels.” 

Hamilton made difference with inferior ‘weapon’ - Wolff

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes Hamilton made the difference in Bahrain by getting himself in a position to capitalise on Ferrari’s misfortune despite having an inferior “weapon”. 

Hamilton had passed Vettel for second place shortly before Leclerc’s engine problem struck, while his 2018 title rival ending up spinning and ultimately dropped to fifth after being forced into an unscheduled pit stop with damage. 

“Lewis fought a fight with a weapon that maybe wasn’t on his opponents level,” Wolff said. 

“But staying within the DRS helped us to stay behind and helped us to stay close and that was the crucial battle. 

“If he wouldn’t have won that battle it would have been Sebastian winning the race and these are the little differences that can change race results and can swing championships.” 

Hamilton added: “Naturally you have to get yourself in that position for opportunities to open [up]. 

“I’m sure that overtake with Seb was quite a decisive point today to enable the opportunity to win. I honestly was really happy with how I drove in the race.”

 

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