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Hamilton sends congratulations to Ferrari: I know how difficult it's been

Ferrari were back on the top step of the podium on Sunday with Charles Leclerc leading home a 1-2 finish in Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton has congratulated rivals Ferrari on their return to the front after Charles Leclerc led home a 1-2 finish for the Italian team in Bahrain. Hamilton, a seven-time World Champion who has fought against Ferrari throughout his career, revealed his happiness to see the Scuderia back on the top step of the podium, more than two years on from their last win. Leclerc put in a commanding performance in Bahrain, thrice fighting back from behind to regain the lead from Max Verstappen before the Red Bull suffered late-race reliability issues and was forced to retire. That left Hamilton in place to pilot his Mercedes to the 183rd podium finish of his career, a podium shared with those in red.

Hamilton: It's great to see Ferrari back

Speaking post-race in Bahrain, Hamilton moved to congratulate Ferrari on their return to the top, ahead of a long season in which the team look set to fight hard for the World Championship. "Big congratulations to these guys. It's great to see them up here," told select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com . "It's a lot of red, but I'm really, really happy to see these guys shine and be back up there. "With the anthem and just the team and the energy that they always bring, it's nice to see, and I know they had a difficult year last year, but they kept pushing. "It's great to see them back, but I hope that we can get in the battle with them at some stage."

Mercedes have work to do before they can join title fight

For Hamilton and Mercedes, there remains plenty of work to do, the team say, if they are to bring their Mercedes W13 into title contention. The Silver Arrows qualified fifth and ninth on Saturday and questions remain about their form heading to Saudi Arabia . "I had a moment where I thought that I was going to have a battle with Carlos, but it only lasted for about five laps, then they were gone," continued Hamilton. "We definitely didn't expect to - or I definitely didn't expect to - be up there. I was hopeful. We did everything we could, praying as hard as we could, to get the best results. "Ultimately, it came down to just really hard work from the whole team, both here and back at the factory. "We have a lot of work to do. We have quite a big deficit in performance, but this is a great start, still."

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