Hamilton cruises to commanding win in Spain
Lewis Hamilton produced a faultless drive to claim a convincing victory from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The pole-sitter was rarely troubled at the Circuit de Catalunya as he dominated the field to lead almost all of the 66 lap contest.
Hamilton converted his pole into a lead which he held through an opening lap Safety Car before marching into a comfortable advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
After electing to pit only once in the race, the Brit led home Bottas by 20.5 seconds as Mercedes made the most of strong pace and smart strategy.
“Today I felt that synergy with the car that I haven’t felt all year,” said Hamilton, who opened up a 17 point championship lead over Vettel.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured the final podium spot while Vettel finished fourth after a two-stop strategy failed to yield the desired result.
“Yeah, because the advice was it was not an option to stay out,” said Vettel when asked if the strategy was the right call.
“We were going through the tyres quicker than the others, though obviously it looks different and looks wrong.”
Daniel Ricciardo endured a lonely day on his run to fifth position although the Australian did set the fastest lap.
Hamilton made no mistakes from pole as he led the field to Turn 1 while Vettel jumped Bottas for second spot by sweeping around the outside of the Mercedes.
However, carnage unfolded behind as Romain Grosjean (Haas F1) triggered a three-car incident that brought out the Safety Car.
Grosjean lost control through Turn 3 but decided to keep his foot in as he spun across the track, where he then collected the unsighted Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso), putting all three out of the race.
The incident was to be investigated by the stewards post-race.
Hamilton set a rapid pace once racing resumed as he posted a string of fastest laps to open up a comfortable lead over Vettel, Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.
Vettel was the first of the leaders to blink by pitting for medium tyres on lap 17 as Ferrari tried the undercut.
The move failed as Hamilton continued his strong pace to emerge from the pits on lap 26 comfortably ahead in the effective lead, in between the long running Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo.
Further drama struck the Ferrari squad as Raikkonen suddenly slowed with an issue that saw him retire from the race.
The Red Bulls eventually took service almost 10 laps later as the team opted for a one stop strategy that saw Verstappen and Ricciardo rejoin on medium tyres in fourth and fifth.
This handed Hamilton a 10s lead over Vettel and Bottas with the former in the box seat for the race win.
Ferrari took a gamble when a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period was deployed when Esteban Ocon (Force India) ground to a halt with an engine problem.
Vettel pitted for fresher medium tyres while the rest of the front runners stayed out.
The German dropped from second to fourth as he rejoined behind Verstappen, who was struggling for grip after he damaged his front wing following contact with the rear of Lance Stroll’s Williams under the VSC.
The fresher tyres failed to put Vettel in the fight as he found himself stuck behind Verstappen for the remainder of the race.
Meanwhile, Hamilton cruised to a second win of the season from Bottas and Verstappen.
Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen came home in sixth ahead of Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jnr and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who found himself locked in a battle with Sainz Jnr and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc for most of the race.
Force India’s Sergio Perez took ninth from Leclerc late on but the latter went on to claim the final championship point.
Brendon Hartley came from the back of the grid to 12th position as 14 cars reached the chequered flag after Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) retired with a mechanical problem.
The championship heads to Monaco from May 24-27.
Result: Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||66||26.873s|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||66||50.058s|
|6||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||65||1 Lap|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Renault||65||1 Lap|
|8||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Renault||65||1 Lap|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||64||2 Laps|
|10||Charles Leclerc||Sauber/Ferrari||64||2 Laps|
|11||Lance Stroll||Williams/Mercedes||64||2 Laps|
|12||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||64||2 Laps|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||64||2 Laps|
|14||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams/Mercedes||63||3 Laps|
|DNF||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||38||Retirement|
|DNF||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||0||Collision|