Hamilton wins thrilling season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix
Mercedes star Hamilton edged out pole-sitter Max Verstappen in his Red Bull, with Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes rounding out the podium.
"What a difficult race that was. Stopping early we knew was going to be difficult, but we had to cover Max. It was going to take something pretty special," said Hamilton after his 96th career win.
"Max was all over me right at the end, but just managed to hold him off, one of most difficult races I have had for a while."
Verstappen had victory in his sights but ran wide in the closing stages as he passed Hamilton, handing the advantage back in the process.
Verstappen admitted: "It's of course a shame, but you also have to see the positive. We're putting the fight on to them (Mercedes), so it's great to start the year like that."