Lewis Hamilton credited Red Bull and Max Verstappen for their performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix, stating that holding off the Dutchman was one of the hardest races he's had in awhile.
The Mercedes driver came out on top despite Red Bull looking like the team to beat all weekend. However Hamilton held off Verstappen, though it didn't come without controversy as the Dutchman was forced to relinquish his position after his pass with four laps remaining was deemed illegal.
"Stopping early we knew was going to be difficult, but we had to cover Max," Verstappen told RacingNews365.com and others. "They have had amazing performance all weekend. So it was going to take something pretty special.
"We suffered in that last stint and trying to find the right balance between not pushing too much and having tyres at the end of the race was difficult and Max was all over me right at the end. But I just about managed to hold him off.
"It was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while, so I’m really grateful for it and massively thankful to the men and women back at the factory and here also for continuously pushing the boundaries and never giving up, even if we do feel we are behind."
When asked if he was excited to fight with Red Bull this season, Hamilton said he's more than up for the challenge.
"I definitely am," Hamilton continued. "Each year they are talking about when you reach your peak and I’m trying to make sure that… well, I think timing is everything and I think I’m probably at that and Max is doing well at the moment too.
"It’s going to take everything and more for us to put in performances like this. But we love the challenge, I love the challenge, I still love what I do."