Former McLaren and Red Bull driver David Coulthard has dubbed last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton’s finest victory in Formula 1, after the 2008 World Champion managed to defend his lead against Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. During the latter stages of the race Rosberg had the advantage of the soft tyre compound and DRS, but he could not make an overtaking manoeuvre stick.
After the first three races of the new season, the German marque has displayed a dominance similar to that of McLaren in 1988 and Williams in 1992, with fearful qualifying pace and indomitable race performance. Despite Lewis Hamilton’s unfortunate retirement from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix due to mechanical gremlins, the Brackley-based outfit has stormed to two back-to-back 1-2 finishes, both with Lewis Hamilton leading home his German team-mate. Already they boast 111 points in the Constructors’ Championship, which leaves them 67 points clear of their nearest rivals Force India with an astonishing 33 more points that Red Bull had this time last season.
With Lewis Hamilton displaying a dominance at the front of the field unseen since his World Championship success with McLaren back in 2008, David Coulthard believes the Briton is now confirming why Mercedes opted for him at the end of the 2012 season and has also stated that his current form shows that he is “arguably the best driver in Formula 1”. With the 29-year-old even managing to defend his lead after the safety car period in Bahrain, when Nico Rosberg had the upper-hand with fresh soft tyres and the ability to deploy his DRS device, David Coulthard believes the 57-lap race was Lewis Hamilton’s finest.
“Rosberg still leads the Championship, but that win for Hamilton in Bahrain, on top of the drubbing he gave Rosberg in Malaysia the week before, will be starting to really hit home with Nico,” explained David Coulthard in his BBC F1 column. “There is a lot of fight left in the German in this World Championship but we are getting confirmation of why Mercedes head-hunted Hamilton from McLaren. He is in a happy place right now and, when he’s on form like this, Hamilton is arguably the best driver in Formula 1. It was an unbelievable achievement by Hamilton to hold on to the lead in the closing laps. He had the disadvantage of not having access to the Drag-Reduction System (DRS) overtaking aid – which Rosberg did – and he was on worse tyres. Rosberg tried and tried. In many ways it is easier for the guy charging and following. Add all that up and it’s why this race really stood out as one of Hamilton’s finest.”
With Red Bull aiming to show their “true colours” by the Spanish Grand Prix in May, it seems Mercedes will continue to dominate at the front when the sport reconvenes in China in several weeks. However, with the almost unchallenged dominance the German marque have already enjoyed during the first few races of the season, even reigning Champions Red Bull could find it hard to catch them as this intriguing new era of Formula 1 continues.
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