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Lewis: “It’s one of the greatest feelings when you come out on top after a battle like that”

Lewis: “It’s one of the greatest feelings when you come out on top after a battle like that”

Lewis, it’s back-to-back wins for you now: you must be delighted?

What an incredible day. It’s the first time we’ve had a night race in Bahrain and my first Grand Prix victory at this circuit. I think my last win here was in Formula 3 back in 2004, so it’s been a long time coming! It was a really tough race and I was absolutely delighted to have come away with the win. It's a long time since I’ve had a race like that! Another one-two is just fantastic for us. A big thank you to the team, especially to my engineers for all the information they were giving me during the race, and to everyone here and back at the factories for all their hard work. I hope the fans loved the show that we were able to put on. I'm also very proud to have joined Fangio with 24 Grand Prix wins. He's one of the great racers of all time so that's a real honour.

How would you sum up that race?

My weekend started off well but I didn't really have great pace in qualifying or the race. I knew that I needed a good start and to go into the first corner in the lead was crucial to my race. From there, it was such a battle. Nico drove fantastically well and, in all honesty, he had the pace on me but I managed to hold on. When you're racing your team-mate, the pressure is really intense and we both knew that we had to bring the cars home for the team and for the championship. All credit to the team for allowing us to race.

There were so many tense moments: how close was the battle from where you were sitting?

Nico drove really well throughout the race. It was a clean, fair battle and it was really tough to keep him behind: particularly at the end. A lot of times he was in my blind spot and I had no idea if he was attacking or not, so I tried to leave enough space. Quite often it’s hard to tell if the other car is braking later into the next corner because you don’t know exactly where he is. It was a real racer’s race and a chance to use the skills that we’ve acquired over the years as youngsters in karting. Being able to apply them in Formula One is a lot harder but to pull them out of the bag again was fantastic. It’s one of the greatest feelings when you come out on top after a battle like that.

How difficult was it to keep Nico behind when he switched to the soft tyres at the end?

I knew when the safety car came out that Nico would be on the option tyres and that he would be quick. It was incredibly tough: one of the toughest situations I’ve been in for a long time. We believed the option tyres were worth around six-and-a-half tenths per lap, so to keep him out of my slipstream and out of the DRS zone was very, very hard. I was on the knife edge the whole time and when I came across the line I was just so relieved. We haven’t had a race like that since back in our karting days! There was one battle we had years ago, maybe even in our first kart race together, where he was leading the whole way and I overtook him on the last lap. I was convinced he was going to do the same to me and get me back!

How are you feeling heading into the next race?

I’m very happy to have got the win but deep down inside I know I didn’t have the pace to match Nico. That will stay in the back of my mind and I’ve got to work hard to try and find out why that was. A lot of the advantages that I had in the previous race, Nico found and applied this time out. We’re pushing each other all the way, so I’ve got to find out what he did better than me and see if I can improve for the next race.

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