Bahrain Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton claims win proves talent means more than car

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Having won four consecutive Formula 1 Drivers' Championships, Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver of modern times - and one of the very best in the history of the sport.

However, in some quarters, the dominance of the British star has been credited more to the quality of his Mercedes car than his own skill as a driver.

Following his thrilling victory in Sunday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton was clearly delighted to have put in a performance to quieten his doubters.

Throughout the weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, it was the Red Bull car of Max Verstappen that set the pace. The 23-year-old took pole position in qualifying, as well as setting the best time during Friday's practice session.

The race itself, though, turned into a tactical war between Mercedes and Red Bull. Mercedes opted to call Hamilton into the pits earlier than Verstappen on both occasions, hopeful that their man would be able to nurse older tyres to victory in the final laps of the race.

The strategy very nearly failed, as Verstappen eventually overtook Hamilton with just four laps to go. Crucially, though, he had run off the track in order to do this and race officials quickly demanded that he hand the lead back to Hamilton.

Verstappen was far from happy, but had little choice to agree to the request and set about the task of pegging Hamilton back via legal means. 

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It was here that Hamilton demonstrated his ability as an elite driver. Using every bit of his experience, Hamilton was able to repel a desperate late surge from Verstappen to win the race.

"There are always opportunities to prove people wrong and today is definitely one of them," Hamilton said after the race, per The Guardian.

"There have been many in the past and I hope there are many in the future to be able to show what I was able to do today. We don’t have the fastest car at the moment, that’s all good for me. I don’t mind having to pull out extra in order to make the difference."

While Verstappen may have had to settle for second place this weekend, events in Bahrain suggest we are in for one of the closest title races we have seen in years. Verstappen looks a very live threat to Hamilton's chances of winning a fifth straight championship, presenting a challenge that the reigning titleholder is apparently relishing.

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"I loved every minute of it," enthused Hamilton. "I am super happy for the fans that they are excited, this is something they have wanted for a long time. It’s only one race, we don’t know what the future holds. With the pace they have they could be ahead a lot more but we are going to work as hard as we can to stay close in this battle and I hope for a lot more races with Max. It’s a long way to go, 22 races, holy crap, I will be grey by the end of it.

There are now three weeks until Hamilton and Verstappen clash again at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola. This break is one of the largest that we will see this season, but definitely serves to build up the anticipation for what will be an enthralling campaign. 

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