Hamilton heads Mercedes one-two in Spain
Mercedes has claimed its fifth consecutive one-two result of the season as Lewis Hamilton headed Valtteri Bottas in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton moved into the lead off the start, then held the position throughout the race in a straightforward affair for the Mercedes duo.
With Hamilton clear out front, Bottas was equally unchallenged in second while Max Verstappen completed the podium after capitalising on a Sebastian Vettel mistake at the opening corner.
A good start saw Hamilton move into the lead, Bottas falling into second as Vettel, who had attempted to run around the outside into the first corner, locked a brake and ran wide.
It saw the Ferrari driver drop behind Verstappen, while a slide from Bottas allowed Hamilton a two second advantage by the end of the opening lap.
The race the settled into a predictable pattern, the closest battle that of the two Ferraris with an impatient Leclerc tucked up behind Vettel, who was struggling with a flat spotted tyre following his opening corner error.
On Lap 12 the call came from the Ferrari pit wall to allow Leclerc through, the Monegasque immediately opening an advantage over his team-mate.
After struggling through the opening stint, Vettel stopped on Lap 20 and rejoined in 10th behind Alex Albon.
It triggered a flurry of pit lane activity with Verstappen in the lane on the following lap for a set of soft compound tyres, confirming the Dutchman on a two-stop strategy.
Leclerc stopped after 25 laps, with a set of the hard compound tyres fitted to what was then the fourth placed runner.
The choice of tyres was a divergence from Vettel’s strategy, suggesting a one-stop option for Leclerc versus a two-stop approach for Vettel.
On Lap 27 it was Bottas’ turn to stop, a set of medium tyres fitted as he rejoined without losing a place.
It was the same story for Hamilton next time around, with a set of the yellow walled mediums fitted to his car.
On Lap 36 Ferrari again switched its drivers on track, with Leclerc moving aside for Vettel after the pair had run nose to tail since the latter rejoined the race 10 laps earlier.
Five laps later Vettel was in the pits, a set of medium compound tyres fitted as he rejoined sixth behind Pierre Gasly.
Within half a lap Vettel had passed the Red Bull to reclaim fifth, taking the spot under brakes into Turn 10.
Verstappen returned to the lane at the end of Lap 43, taking on a set of medium tyres as Red Bull covered off Vettel.
The Dutchman emerged behind Leclerc, though with tyres almost 20 laps newer with 23 laps to run.
On Lap 47 Mercedes called Bottas in for a set of soft compound tyres as Lance Stroll and Lando Norris clashed at Turn 2.
Norris had attempted to round the outside of Turn 1, with Stroll taking the racing line into Turn 2, the pair touching and drawing the Safety Car.
Stroll was left bunkered in the gravel while Norris dragged his car out, only to stop with damage to his front right and see the race neutralised.
It offered Hamilton and Leclerc a cheap pit stop, the Mercedes driver maintaining the lead while Leclerc emerged behind his Ferrari team-mate in fifth.
The race restarted as the field started its 53rd lap, Gasly immediately challenging Leclerc while the Haas pairing of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen brushed wheels.
Magnussen then launched an attack on Gasly, the Red Bull driver just holding on to the position.
Thereafter the race again settled down, with Hamilton comfortably ahead of Bottas and Verstappen third.
Towards the back end of the top 10 there was some movement, primarily Grosjean slipping down the order as he dropped to the final points paying position.
Alex Albon was hot on his gearbox in the closing laps but unable to make a move stick, with Daniel Ricciardo just off the back of the Toro Rosso in 12th place.
Out front, Hamilton headed Mercedes’ 49th one-two result in Formula 1, and continue the squad’s perfect start to the season.
The Englishman also picked up the bonus point for fastest lap in another dominant performance from the Silver Arrows.
Formula 1 next heads to Monaco on May 23-26.
Race results: Spanish Grand Prix
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||66||+7.679|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing Honda||66||+19.576|
|7||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||66||+28.159|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||66||+32.342|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||66||+33.056|
|10||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||66||+34.641|
|11||23||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||66||+35.445|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||66||+41.803|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||66||+46.877|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||66||+47.691|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||65||+1 lap|
|18||88||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes||65||+1 lap|
|NC||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||44||DNF|
|NC||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||44||DNF|
Fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton
|3||Red Bull Racing Honda||87|
|5||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||17|
|7||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||13|
|9||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||6|