Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe claims the team owed it to Formula One to allow Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to engage in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes duo were involved in some close-quarters combat on several occasions throughout the night race under the newly-installed 5,000 lights at the Bahrain International Circuit.

It was captivating stuff and ensured the result was in doubt all the way to the chequered flag, with Hamilton ultimately victorious by just 1.085 seconds from Rosberg.

It laid to rest any doubt Mercedes would attempt to manipulate their drivers following the team's dominant start to the season.

Lowe, in charge of team affairs trackside, said: "It's the spirit of Formula One and motor racing generally.

"Team orders, putting in artificial constraints, is just such a terrible thing for the entertainment, the spectacle.

"We believe we should let the guys race, particularly in a situation where we have a pretty dominant car, which has become clear now.

"It's all the more important to keep providing that entertainment and excitement for all of us. That's what it's all about.

"And in any case if you start putting in team orders, everybody gets unhappy and you just end up where everyone's a loser.

"Imagine if we had imposed team orders from lap two or something, what a terrible thing that would be for Formula One and the philosophy of Mercedes in motor sport.

"It's something we owe to ourselves, the sport and our drivers, and they are great drivers, professionals. You want to give them the opportunity to race, which is what they do.

"So we determined from the outset we would want our drivers to race all the way through from lights to flag, and that's what we did."

Despite a number of close shaves as Hamilton and Rosberg diced with each other, Lowe insists he was able to keep his cool.

Lowe, however, did take to the team radio during a safety car period that added to the tension to tell his drivers to bring the cars home.

"I didn't get overly stressed about it because I know they are great professionals, experienced drivers, and they know what it takes," added Lowe.

"I gave them a little bit of a reminder during the safety car to just remember it's all about bringing the car home.

"But that didn't mean don't race. It just meant there's a line not to cross which is where you endanger the car, and they did a perfect job."