With Red Bull's Max Verstappen hunting him down on fresher rubber, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton described his last few laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix as "horrifying."
In what proved to be a win against the odds, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton discusses his thought process as he prepared for the oncoming attack by Dutch driver Verstappen.
"It wasn't great, I was struggling at the end with the rear end of my car, my rear tires had gone off," Hamilton said in a post race conference.
"I think (the tires were) maybe eight laps older or something like that to Max's tyres.
"So, I knew he was going to catch me with 10 laps to go and I was like thinking 'it's going to be almost impossible to hold him behind', which in fact it was, up until the Turn 4 incident.
"Then, after that, I was just able to just keep him behind, I managed to keep him in my wake.
"Well, he was right behind me, so then stuck in my wake, and it was difficult for him in certain places to get close and he ended up wide in some places, which gave me a little bit of an edge. It's a difficult track to follow.
Hamilton admitted that he was not sure he would win the race given the strong pace of the Red Bull's RB16B F1 car.
"I think it was really the last lap – there was a point, once I got through Turn 4 I knew that I was in a good position," Hamilton explained.
"But then oversteer out of Turn 10, nervousness out of 11, a snap oversteer in 13, which is a really bad one.
"And I was thinking 'that's it, he's got me now'. But I think he had the same thing."
Hamilton finally ackowledged the Mercedes' teams efforts, thanking his race engineer Peter Bonnington.
"Bono (Peter Bonnington, Hamilton's race engineer) just kept telling me how many laps were left! He was like 'three laps, two laps' and I'm like 'Bono, I can count! I've got it!' Hamilton recounted.
"He's just nervous, but I'm grateful for Bono and his patience with me.
"Every minute of the weekend I've loved, Knowing as a team that we were behind in performance – these guys [Red Bull] have done a better job so far.
"And so, for us to come away with this result given the fact that we weren't the fastest this weekend is a real result."
If the Bahrain Grand Prix is anything to go by fans of Formula 1 could be in for a real treat over the course of 2021. Hamilton and Verstappen represent the sport's two most naturally gifted drivers on the current grid.
With both drivers now in cars capable of winning Grand Prix, it would surprise no one if the battle for the championship comes down to the final race of the season.