Hamilton surges to victory
LEWIS Hamilton in a Mercedes won the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari.
It was Hamilton’s second Grand Prix win of the season and the 55th of his career, pulling him to within six points of Vettel in the standings after five races.
Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull was third ahead of the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.
Hamilton’s triumph was partly the result of team tactics, with the Briton able to get past Vettel on lap 44 of the 66 laps shortly after both had pitted on different tyre strategies.
Vettel had the better of the earlier exchanges, getting away quickest from second on the grid to take the lead ahead of Hamilton, who could not match the Ferrari’s pace.
The Ferrari man was the first to pit, with Hamilton kept out longer before a change to harder but slower medium tyres.
Vettel was held up for a time by new race leader, Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, but got past the Finn after a double feint set up a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre on the 25th lap.
The four-time champion was able to stretch his lead over an anxious Hamilton who was reassured over team radio his chance would come when Vettel made a necessary change to medium and Hamilton to faster soft tyres.
That soon came on laps 37 and 38 with Hamilton in first followed by Vettel, who came out neck and neck with the Briton. The two touched but Vettel on the inside got the better of the duel leading to Hamilton commenting over team radio, “That was dangerous”.
However Hamilton stayed on Vettel’s tail and got past the German around the outside of Turn 1 on lap 44. “No chance, no chance. Like a train,” Vettel told his team.
The race was by no means over, with Ferrari banking on Hamilton’s softer tyres eventually degrading.
The Briton reported his rear tyres were overheating and it was difficult to pull away. But with nine laps remaining he had extended the gap to around four seconds – a third stop for Vettel for new, faster tyres now ruled out – and the race seemingly in control.
Vettel was further held up while overlapping Felipe Massa in a Williams with five laps remaining, probably ending any hope of launching a late attack, and Hamilton could take the chequered flag 3.49 seconds ahead.
The remaining top 10 positions were taken by Nico Huelkenberg in a Renault, Carlos Sainz in a Toro Rosso, Pascal Wehrlein in a Sauber, Daniil Kvyat in a Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean in a Haas.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, last year’s Barcelona winner, and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen went out after a first-turn collision which left both with broken suspensions.
Bottas, who was racing with an old engine fitted before qualifying, retired with a loss of power on lap 39. – dpa