Hamilton wins Spanish GP in direct fight with Vettel

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Lewis Hamilton was victorious at the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix, winning the 55th race of his career by beating Sebastian Vettel on-track. Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull Racing as he benefited from retirements of other competitors.

As the lights went out, the start unfolded as one of the most spectacular so far in the season. It was soon clear that Hamilton had a bit of a difficult getaway as he soon has Vettel next to him on the main straight. Before they ended up at Turn 1, the lead was decided in the favour of the Ferrari driver.

Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes attempted to gain a position as well, but failed while Raikkonen and Verstappen tangled up together, leading into the retirement of both due to suspension damage. The obvious fourth was then Ricciardo, as he profited from these retirements. Replays later shows that both Verstappen and Raikkonen were victims of Bottas banging the right rear wheel of Raikkonen, sending the latter into Verstappen.

Perez and Ocon followed up in 5th and 6th as Alonso ended up in the gravel on the exit of Turn 2, rejoining the race down in 11th position. In fact, Alonso had no way to go, and saw Massa bump into him on the exit of turn 2. Massa had a puncture and pitted, rejoining the race in 18th position.

Hulkenberg was 7th, followed by Magnussen, Sainz and Grosjean. Vandoorne, who started from the back after another 10-place grid penalty for a power unit change moved up to 15th by the end of the first lap.

By lap 12, it was clear that passing was still extremely difficult at Circuit de Catalunya, even despite the DRS zone on the main straight having been extended by 100m, now from 57m after the final corner. Sainz got increasingly frustrated behind Magnussen while Alonso was also unable recover any of the lost ground. The Spaniard did however concede he lost "quite a lot" of performance in his coming together with Massa.

At the end of that lap, Alonso was the first to pit, changing to another set of softs. Vandoorne did the same moments later, in the same lap. Magnussen and Sainz followed the next lap. The Spaniard had a slightly faster pitstop, but was unable to make it past, despite going through the grass on the exit of the pitlane.

Vettel pitted another lap later, similarly also taking another set of softs. At the time of his stop, the Ferrari driver had 2.4s in hand over Hamilton. Despite numerous discussions, Hamilton was only pitted on lap 22, opting to change to mediums immediately. Daniel Ricciardo did exactly the same.

Hamilton was even more worried when he heard he was 7s down on Vettel after his stop, but when Bottas managed to keep Vettel behind for 3 laps, that gap briefly reduced to 3s, before getting extended again. Hamilton was subsequently told he would later catch Vettel again due to the lower degradation on the mediums.

Things were settling down a bit, at least at the front, until Vandoorne seemingly turned into Massa in Turn 1, breaking the right steering arm on his McLaren and retiring from the race. The incident brought a VSC period triggering lots of pitstops. At Mercedes, they did at first not seem to know what to do, but just when the safety car period was ending, Hamilton was pitted to change for softs.

Ferrari soon realised action was needed, and called Vettel in for an early stop to mediums. Both men banged wheels at Turn 1, but it was Vettel who emerged ahead, forcing Hamilton to get past if he wanted to win the race.

3 laps later, Bottas was out of the race with a power unit failure. He reported "no more power" on the exit of Turn 3, and by the time he parked his car, flames were coming out of the sidepods.

Another two laps later in the race, Hamilton gets a pass stick, using the overtake button on his car to power past the Ferrari on the main straight. Vettel opted to defend the inside line, but by the time they ended up at the braking zone, Hamilton was already well ahead of the Ferrari was able to dive into the corner and take the lead. This left him with an interesting decision to make, knowing there were 22 laps laps, and he was on the less durable tyre, and knowing that Vettel was unlikely to stop again.

Hamilton opted to save tyres, and paced himself to stay around 2s ahead of Vettel before extending the gap further at about 10 laps from the end. Vettel in the end seemed unable to respond, having no other option to settle for a second place finish.

Daniel Ricciardo finished a distant third, ahead of Perez and Ocon who made this a great day for Force India. Nico Hulkenberg ended up 6th for Renault, ahead of Wehrlein who scored the first points for Sauber this season. Sainz, Kvyat and Grosjean completed the top 10. Magnussen ran in 9th until 2 laps from the end, at which point he collided with Kvyat in Turn 3, forcing him to pit with a puncture.

Home hero Fernando Alonso finished 11th, passing both Williams in the last 5 laps. The Spaniard had suggested to save the engine a bit earlier on, but instead, they opted to pit for fresh soft tyres. It became a disappointing result, but he still went on to greet his fans, driving around the track with a Spanish flag he received from one of the marshalls.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG661:35:56.49725
25Sebastian VettelFerrari66+3.490s18
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer66+75.820s15
411Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes65+1 lap12
531Esteban OconForce India Mercedes65+1 lap10
627Nico HulkenbergRenault65+1 lap8
755Carlos SainzToro Rosso65+1 lap6
894Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari65+1 lap4
926Daniil KvyatToro Rosso65+1 lap2
108Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari65+1 lap1
119Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari64+2 laps0
1214Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda64+2 laps0
1319Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes64+2 laps0
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari64+2 laps0
1530Jolyon PalmerRenault64+2 laps0
1618Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes64+2 laps0
NC77Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG38DNF0
NC2Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda32DNF0
NC33Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1DNF0
NC7Kimi RäikkönenFerrari0DNF0