Lewis Hamilton believes that Mercedes have done a "better job" at getting ready for the 2022 F1 season, and the new regulations, despite being a little behind in terms of outright performance in Bahrain.
Hamilton and new teammate George Russell finished third and fourth in Sunday's season opener, marking a hefty points haul from what initially looked set to be a disappointing weekend for the reigning Constructors' World Champions.
But, having gained some extra positions as the two Red Bulls retired with apparently identical technical issues in the final laps of the race, Hamilton reckons the results came down to hard work and preparation, and not just luck.
Hamilton: Mercedes have prepared better than Red Bull
"Of course, we were fortunate, but ultimately we've done a better job – we have better reliability," Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.com, after claiming an unexpected podium place.
"I wouldn't say that's luck. I think this is the hard work of everyone.
"It's such a long season. It's going to be such a hard battle, but we love a challenge – I really do enjoy a challenge.
"It is a privilege for all of us to be able to work with large teams of people who are hungry, who are focused on a common goal. There's no greater feeling when you all come together and you get a result like this."
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Hamilton says every point will count in the race for the title
Given that Hamilton now has an unlikely 15-point lead over Verstappen after the first race, and is just 11 points behind early leader Leclerc, the seven-time World Champion stressed the importance of taking every opportunity.
"I've lost world titles with just one point," he commented.
"Whilst we're currently not necessarily - performance-wise - fighting with these guys [Ferrari], as I mentioned, this is not [just] damage limitation, but just a really, really great result.
"I think, in terms of our processes, in terms of squeezing absolutely everything out of the car, that's what we did, for both drivers, and I think that's a true showing of strength within."
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