Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has admitted he was fortunate to score points last Sunday at Imola, and losing a decent haul of points to Red Bull's Max Verstappen would have been a serious deficit to overcome.
Despite sliding out of the track and damaging his front wing to fall a lap down, Hamilton finished the race in second after a mid-race red flag reset brought him back onto the lead lap.
Losing just six points to race winner Verstappen, as opposed to what could have been around twenty five, Hamilton said the points were a crucially important recovery.
"I think, without doubt, getting back to second and getting these points today will be very valuable through the season," Hamilton told media after the race.
"If I’d lost 25 points today, that would have been hard to recover with the fact… based on the fact that Red Bull – it’s the first time that they’ve had a championship-winning car, their car is incredibly fast."
Speaking about how good the new Red Bull RB16B appears to be, Hamilton admitted it looks like the quicker car over a single lap at this point of the season.
"They were faster than us this weekend," said the reigning Champion, "definitely in qualifying trim but it looks like a little bit also in race trim. But I don’t know if they made a couple of mistakes, I think they did, Max did in qualifying for example otherwise he would have been on pole.
"But we’ve got a real close battle which we love the fact that it’s a close battle and it’s great to see McLaren back up there after such a long time, it’s great to see Ferrari looking strong so there’s going to be a lot of exciting races up ahead and challenging for all of us in so many different ways."