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FLASHBACK: The Duel in the Desert – Bahrain 2014

FLASHBACK: The Duel in the Desert – Bahrain 2014

The Bahrain International Circuit has been a fruitful hunting ground for the Silver Arrows over the last three years, with a trio of poles and wins split between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Each victory is, of course, a very special moment. But one race stands out from this particular crowd - the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix.

It was truly breathless stuff

It was truly breathless stuff, as Lewis edged Nico in a thrilling, hard-fought desert duel under the lights of the Bahrain International Circuit - a battle which has gone done in Formula One history as one of the all-time great races.

"It's a long time since I had a race like that!" said Lewis, on the podium. "That was a really tough race and I am absolutely delighted to have come home with the win. 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."

After a mega lap on the Saturday, Nico lined up on pole - but it was Lewis that led into the first corner. The two Silver Arrows ran nose to tail in formation until Lap 18, when Nico dived down the inside of Lewis into Turn 1 for the lead, only to run wide and find the door firmly closed by his team-mate.

The battle continued and Nico tried again a lap later, sliding through into Turn 1 and taking the lead. But his advantage was short lived, as Lewis countered through Turn 4, the two Silver Arrows going wheel-to-wheel for first position.

A battle which has gone done in Formula One history as one of the all-time great races.

The night belonged to Lewis Hamilton!

It was Lewis that just held on to P1

Lewis dived into the pits on Lap 19, switching to Soft tyres in an effort to build up a lead during the middle stint. Nico was in two laps later but opted for the Medium compound, preferring to run the Soft in the closing stages of the race. Out in front, Lewis was flying on the quicker Softs and had built up a lead of 9s over Nico when the race took a turn on Lap 41. Contact between Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutiérrez prompted a late Safety Car and forced both Silver Arrows into the pits.

Lewis' advantage had been wiped out and he now had his mirrors full of Nico on the quicker Soft tyres. The race would come down to an intense 10 lap sprint to the flag. Nico immediately attacked at the restart and the pair went side by side through Turn 4 - but it was Lewis that just held on to P1.

Nico's challenge wasn't through yet, though, attacking his team-mate again and again into Turn 1. But he could find no way past a resilient Lewis. And so the chequered flag fell on an incredible contest. The night belonged to Lewis Hamilton!

 "I knew when the Safety Car came out that Nico would be on the option tyres and that he would be quick," said Lewis. "To try and stay ahead of him was so hard and when I came across the line I was just so relieved. When you're racing your team-mate, the pressure is really intense."

Nico completed a famous 1-2 for the Silver Arrows

Nico came home just 1.085s shy in second, to complete a famous 1-2 for the Silver Arrows.

"It's very disappointing to have finished second in the end but I gave it everything and it just didn't quite come off for me," said Nico. "Lewis did a great job defending his position and, so often when I did manage to get past, I then couldn't see him in the blind spot in my mirrors.

"Our strategy was good and to change it after the first stint was a decision that I made with the team. It was a slightly slower strategy but it gave me the best chance of catching Lewis at the end on the option tyres. The difference between the prime and the option was not as big as we expected however and I didn't quite manage to get by."

Bahrain 2014 threw down a marker for what would follow over the next three years, as Lewis and Nico were pitted against each other in a fight for three consecutive world titles. Days like that are what all racers live for... here's hoping for more of the same in the 2017 edition!

Nico came home just 1.085s shy in second

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