Hamilton narrowly edges Rosberg to Spanish victory

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Lewis Hamilton has won the Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit De Catalunya, his fourth straight win of the season. He finished the race after a close fight with Nico Rosberg who finished 6 tenths behind. Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull Racing.

The sun was out for the start of the Spanish Grand Prix, and with rain having falling overnight and earlier today, humidity is fairly high as well, most likely making it a physically harder race than usual. For Vergne and Maldonado it will be a hard fight as they start from the back of the grid while Sebastian Vettel starts from 15th following a gearbox replacement that resulted in a 5-place grid penalty.

As the lights went out, Hamilton fired off the line impressively and easily retained his first position. Nico Rosberg also managed to keep second while Valtteri Bottas got past Daniel Ricciardo through turn one and two. Romain Grosjean appeared to challenge for fourth but locked both front wheels going into turn 1 and had to back out of it, still retaining 5th as he started on the grid.

Generally there were very few position changes during the first laps. Raikkonen position in 6th, just like Alonso, Massa, Hulkenberg, Perez and Gutierrez behind him. Sebastian Vettel only managed to gain a single place after Magnussen went wide through turn 8.

At the back of the field, Vergne did a solid job to move up to 17th while Maldonado only managed to get Chilton and Ericsson. Even for that the Venezuelan needed bumping and pushing as he touched wheels with Ericsson through the final chicane. The Lotus driver later was handed a 5 second stop and go penalty for causing that collision.

As the Mercedes cars are closely matched and pull away from the rest of the field, Ricciardo enjoyed a few attempts to get past Bottas but failed and backed off as of lap 8.

In the middle of the pack, Gutierrez is moving backwards. First Vergne impressive got past him through the outside of turn 3 while half a lap later Vettel passed him under braking for turn 9.

On lap 13 Vettel is the first to pit, changing to the harder tyres and rejoining the track at the very back of the field. Ricciardo pitted 2 laps later. The Australian took on a new set of mediums.

Another lap later, Grosjean and Massa are in. Another lap later Alonso pitted after completing an entire stint closely behind Raikkonen. It appeared like the Spaniard had more pace in hand than his teammate but was unable to make a straightforward pass. Raikkonen pitted one lap later and rejoined the track still ahead of his Spanish teammate, thankful to Gutierrez who cost Alonso some time on his outlap.

On lap 19 Hamilton pitted from the lead and lost a tiny bit of time during his stop as the front left was slow to come off of the car. At the same time, Rosberg comitted himself entirely and ended up setting the fastest lap so far. Earlier on, he said his option tyres looked perfectly fine with no sign of graining. Hamilton soon responded with the fastest lap on his new medium tyres following which Rosberg pitted and changed to the hard tyres.

By lap 23, Hamilon leads the race still, 3.5s ahead of his teammate. Ricciardo is second following Bottas' stop. Grosjean is 5th, 2s ahead of Raikkonen. Another 2s down is Alonso, then Massa, then Vettel and the Force India duo led by Hulkenberg. 12th is Button, ahead of Kvyat, Magnussen, Vergne, Gutierrez, Maldonado, Sutil, Kobayashi, Chilton, Bianchi and Ericsson.

2 laps later Grosjean is easily passed by Raikkonen on the straight, seemingly lacking top speed. One lap later Alonso gets past as well with Massa and Vettel next to have a go.

Vergne at the time was told to abandon the race due to an exhaust problem on his car.

Vettel pitted for medium tyres on lap 33, set for the three stop race. HE was 9th, immediately behind Massa and rejoined the track in 14th. Grosjean also did a stop one lap later but rejoined behind Vettel, promoting the Red Bull driver to 13th.

On lap 36, just as Vettel set the fastest lap on his fresh set of medium tyres, Alonso pits as well, changing to the hards and rejoining in 10, behind Magnussen and ahead of Massa and Vettel. Half a lap later Massa passes the McLaren on the straight line while Vettel did the same to Massa in turn 5. Another lap later Vettel takes Magnussen as well and moves up into 7th.

At lap 45, Hamilton pits after staying out deliberately for another lap. The pit radio later revealed that Hamilton wasn't particularly happy to pit at that time being perfectly happy with the medium tyres he had at the time. Hamilton switched to the hards while Rosberg got back to the mediums two laps later.

The next few laps marked impressive pace from Rosberg with the gap decreasing from 4.5s to 1.8 in lap 58. By then, Hamilton was struggling with understeer as his left front started graining.

Meanwhile Raikkonen, Alonso and Vettel pitted sequentially. Raikkonnen was ahead after the stops, but by lap 58 and a fastest lap by Vettel, the Red Bull driver easily got the edge of the Finn through turn 9. This soon put Raikkonen under pressure from Alonso while Vettel went on to find Bottas, 5 seconds further up the road in fourth position.

On lap 63, Rosberg finally gets into the DRS gap behind Hamilton, and when the latter makes a slight mistake in turn 9, the gap is reduced to a mere 6 tenthsn enabling real overtake opportunities. Both drivers have run their heart out during this race, realising the lead in the championship is worth playing for.

On lap 64, following 3 failed attempts on the straight, Alonso tried the outside of turn 1 as Raikkonen defended. The Spaniard then slotted back in behind Raikkonen in turn 2, then trying the outside of turn 3, but when that gap closed as well, he cut to the inside and eventually got the advantage on his teammate in turn 4.

At the same time, Vettel got the edge of Bottas in turn 9, making it 3rd and 4th for Red Bull Racing.

In the end, Hamilton had to do all he could to fend off Rosberg, but still got his win, leading the race from start to finish and winning with 0.6s of an advantage.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG66Winner125
26Nico RosbergMercedes AMG66+0.6 secs218
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault66+49.0 secs315
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault66+76.7 secs1512
577Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes66+79.2 secs410
614Fernando AlonsoFerrari66+87.7 secs78
77Kimi RäikkönenFerrari65+1 Lap66
88Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault65+1 Lap54
911Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes65+1 Lap112
1027Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes65+1 Lap101
1122Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes65+1 Lap8
1220Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes65+1 Lap14
1319Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes65+1 Lap9
1426Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault65+1 Lap12
1513Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault65+1 Lap22
1621Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari65+1 Lap13
1799Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari65+1 Lap16
1817Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari64+2 Laps18
194Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari64+2 Laps17
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault64+2 Laps19
Ret10Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault34Brakes20
Ret25Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault24Exhaust21


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