Lewis Hamilton jokes ‘I’m gray by the end of the season’ after winning the F1 curtain raiser

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Lewis Hamilton jokes ‘I’ll be gray by the end of the season’ after JUST clinging to victory for Max Verstappen in F1 curtain riser … but Brit admits Red Bull can ‘be much more ahead of the curve’ with the pace they showed in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton joked that he will have turned gray by the end of the season after narrowly holding on to first place in the thrilling F1 curtain raiser in Bahrain.

The world champion was pushed to the very last second by Red Bull hotshot Max Verstappen, who started from pole and took a late, dramatic attack.

But it was Hamilton who lit the touch paper on the mouthwatering championship title race – and later admitted that he may be behind Red Bull much more often.

Lewis Hamilton joked that he will have turned gray by the end of the year after winning in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton joked that he will have turned gray by the end of the year after winning in Bahrain

Twenty-two more races this season. Holy c ** p, ”Hamilton said after sending his Mercedes home on battered tires. “I’m gray at the end.”

He produced one of the best defensive rides of his career, if not his best ever, with Verstappen coming up to him several times and cutting within the DRS range.

With Hamilton taking the lead in the intriguing and tactical cat and mouse game at the front, Verstappen got 16 laps remaining to track him down.

Mercedes' Hamilton produced one of the best rides of his life to fend off Max Verstappen

Mercedes' Hamilton produced one of the best rides of his life to fend off Max Verstappen

Mercedes’ Hamilton produced one of the best rides of his life to fend off Max Verstappen

But despite the Red Bull man’s tire advantage, he was narrowly short and had to settle for second place for the campaign’s first checkered flag.

And as the fireworks lit up the night sky at Sakhir, Hamilton turned his attention to the unpredictable collision to become top dogs between Mercedes and Red Bull.

He added: ‘Loved every minute. We knew we were lagging behind in performance. Getting away with this result is a real boost.

‘We don’t know how much better Red Bull will be in other places.

‘I am excited and glad the fans are excited. This is something they’ve wanted for a long time. It’s just one race and we don’t know what the future holds.

Verstappen started on pole but was unable to take over Hamilton during the dramatic final laps

Verstappen started on pole but was unable to take over Hamilton during the dramatic final laps

Verstappen started on pole but was unable to take over Hamilton during the dramatic final laps

‘With the pace that Red Bull has, they could be much more ahead, but we are going to work as hard as possible to stay close. I hope for more of these races with Max. ‘

Verstappen even took the lead with only three laps to go after jumping on the attack via turn four.

The Red Bull narrowly ran off the track while ahead of his opponent and had to give the spot back to Hamilton.

Hamilton has admitted that he expects to be on Red Bull cars much more often this season

Hamilton has admitted that he expects to be on Red Bull cars much more often this season

Hamilton has admitted that he expects to be on Red Bull cars much more often this season

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas took the last podium spot despite another bad Mercedes pit stop at the track – with Lando Norris in fourth and Sergio Perez in fifth.

Mexican racer Perez, who made his Red Bull debut, recovered brilliantly from a pit lane start after stalling in the formation lap.

Rookie Yuki Tsunoda, meanwhile, stood out during his first F1 appearance at AlphaTauri, finishing ninth to claim two points.

Valtteri Bottas finished third in the other Mercedes despite another failed pit stop at Sakhir

Valtteri Bottas finished third in the other Mercedes despite another failed pit stop at Sakhir

Valtteri Bottas finished third in the other Mercedes despite another failed pit stop at Sakhir

Sergio Perez fought from the pit lane to finish fifth and put an end to a bad qualifying experience

Sergio Perez fought from the pit lane to finish fifth and put an end to a bad qualifying experience

Sergio Perez fought from the pit lane to finish fifth and put an end to a bad qualifying experience

Sebastian Vettel had a night to forget in his Aston Martin after finishing 15th and being hit by five penalty points in just under five hours.

The four-time champion was caught by a yellow flag during qualifying forcing him to the back of the grid and was also guilty of colliding with Esteban Ocon.

Nikita Mazepin crashed just three innings in the first round in Bahrain, ending his first ride very prematurely due to the struggling Haas.

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