Supreme Lewis Hamilton extends championship lead and other takeaways from Spanish Grand Prix

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Britain’s Lewis Hamilton drove his Mercedes to victory in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix for his second victory of the season.

The defending four-time world champion and current series leader started from pole position after a record-breaking qualifying lap on Saturday and finished ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen rounding out the podium.

Here’s some key takeaways from Barcelona.

Dominant Hamilton

The Briton led from start to finish to clinch his third win in Barcelona and 64th career victory. Starting on pole, the 33-year-old briefly relinquished the lead when he went in to pit on lap 26, but stormed ahead to snatch victory and now leads the title race by 18 points. It is impossible for anyone to perform at a consistently high level across the entire season, and with the Ferraris gaining solid ground, this season is set up to be a thriller as Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel go in search of that illustrious fifth world title. Advantage may be in the reigning champion’s favour now but expect Vettel to fight back in Monaco in two weeks’ time.

More frustration for Vettel

It looked like it would be a challenging race for Hamilton when Vettel jumped Bottas on the first lap, but two safety cars and some poor strategy resulted in the German finishing fourth. Despite the disappointment, Vettel needs to brush this race aside and focus on Monaco where he has the chance to challenge his rival once again.  A minor blip in Spain, but with 16 races remaining, the race is still wide open.

Verstappen restores some credibility

A fine third place finish for the Dutchman after a tough few weeks in which he hitHamilton, divebombed Vettel, collided with Daniel Ricciardo and clipped the rear end of Lance Stroll’s Williams. In Barcelona, Verstappen did a fine job holding off Vettel and restored some credibility to seal a second podium of the season. With a damaged wing towards the end of the race, the 20-year-old showed superb composure to match the same lap times as Ricciardo and drive faster than Vettel. Hopefully the start of a promising season for the Red Bull driver.

Raikkonen retires

The Finn has been on fire in 2018 but he was forced to retire in Barcelona due to engine failure. The 37-year-old was sitting behind Hamilton in second on lap 26 when he experienced trouble with the car and was subsequently overtaken by both Red Bull drivers and fell into 17th. With two podiums in the first four races, the Ferrari driver can still take some respite from his promising start to the campaign despite a disappointing day in Barcelona.

Grosjean triggers major crash

Another bad day at the office for the Frenchman as he lost control of his car on the first lap and spun into a chasing field, that eliminated Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly along the way. With 16th, 13th, 17th and 15th place finishes in his first four races, it has not been a bright start to the season for the Haas driver. The American outfit had aimed to threaten their big midfield rivals this campaign, but the car’s lack of pace and consistency has seen them struggle so far.

Force India troubles

One of the leading lights of last year’s championship, Esteban Ocon has yet replicate his 2017 form and continues to drop further behind his team-mate Sergio Perez. After retiring in Baku, the Frenchman was full of optimistic coming in to Spain, but was forced to retire on lap 44 due to power failure. It proved to be an unlucky afternoon for the 21-year-old after a brilliant drive was hampered by a terrible pitstop, and then a faulty engine. The Evreux native has plenty of time to turn around his form and needs to step up a gear if he is to be considered for a potential Mercedes seat in the future.

Leclerc delivers again

For the second time in three weeks, the Monaco showed his remarkable ability with a top-10 finish. Starting from P14, Leclerc benefited from the eliminations of Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Gasly to push up into the top ten before maintaining a solid driving ability throughout the race. He may have been overtaken by Alonso and Sergio Perez late on, but a second top-10 in five races is a serious boost for a team lacking in ambition. Aside from the points, Leclerc’s biggest competition this season will be to overshadow 27-year-old Ericsson, who has spent four more years in the sport. Whilst doing that it will open a shop window – as such – for a more experienced team to give Leclerc a better opportunity in a faster car when his contract expires in 2019.

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Lewis Hamilton wins Spanish GP ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen

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Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the drivers’ world championship to 17 points on Sunday when he roared to an imperious victory as Mercedes scored a one-two triumph at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The defending four-time world champion dominated from start to finish, save for a spell during the mid-race pit-stops, and clocked a series of record laps as he registered his second successive win.

It was the 64th victory of his career – only Michael Schumacher on 91 has more – and came from his 74th pole.

He joined seven-time champion Schumacher and two-time champion Finn Mika Hakkinen as a three-time winner in Spain.

Finn Valtteri Bottas came home second in the second Mercedes ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull who resisted late pressure from four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who led Hamilton by 17 points after the opening three races this year.

The German, who made a good start, was second until he took an ill-judged second pit-stop, under Virtual Safety Car conditions, midway through the race, dropping two places.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fifth in the second Red Bull ahead of Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Spaniards Carlos Sainz, of Renault, and two-time champion Fernando Alonso, of McLaren.

Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India came home ninth ahead of the impressive Monegasque Charles Leclerc of Sauber.

Only 14 of the 20 starters completed the race after a major high-speed crash on the opening lap, triggered by a spin from Frenchman Romain Grosjean’s Haas car, and a sequence of retirements.

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Why the Miami Grand Prix would be a great addition to the Formula One calendar

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Wednesday’s announcement of a potential 10-year deal for a Formula one Grand Prix to be staged around the sweeping streets of Miami was welcomed with mixed views from enthusiasts of the sport.

The bustling American city, known for its glamour, neon night life, famous residents, stunning weather and the iconic South Beach, could be added to the 21-race calendar from as early as next year.

It would be a PR magnet should the City Commission give it its blessing next week, but even if they pass this juncture, they still need to negotiate a contract before it gets the green light for October 2019.

Next week’s vote will signal the city’s openness to what would be the largest race Miami has even seen.

It has been four years since cars have raced around the city’s winding and iconic streets, that came during the Miami ePrix in 2015 – an electric automobile race. Go further back and 13 years have passed since an Indy Car-style event cut through the famed Museum Park.

Formula One has global appeal and so does Miami. Imagine a race in Miami wedged between the US Grand Prix in Texas and the Mexican Grand Prix.

It would be a fantastic spectacle similar to a Monaco GP – the most glamorous on the circuit – due to its parties, atmosphere, yachts and everything else that goes with it.

Monaco is clearly the most prestigious on the current circuit, but there is no doubt that having the Magic City on the calendar would be just as illustrious.

Imagine the paddock having the likes of Kanye West, Jay Z and Co pitside.

From a drivers’ point of view, Lewis Hamilton joked about the distractions of having a race in Miami, but there is no doubt that every driver and team would enjoy the prospect of a having a new race, especially on Florida’s southeastern tip.

Liberty Media has wanted to expand F1’s presence in the United States since buying the commercial rights in September 2016, with a Miami race high up its wish list.

Miami’s status as one of the most iconic cities would make it a perfect destination for fans and perhaps the next big stop to help develop the popularity of the sport in the US. Americans love to have sports events that they can call their own.

With over 450,000 residents, it has a bustling tourism industry, nice food, great weather, white sandy beaches and multi-cultural population – all of which would add to the appeal of a new destination on the racing calendar.

Not only does it allow drivers to mix it up instead of racing at the same circuits each year, but it gives them a chance to test their mettle on a new street circuit in a vibrant city.

It relieves the stale drag of a 21-race season and gives drivers the chance to compete in another cosmopolitan place with nice weather and new fans.

The only negative would be whether another street circuit is the right way to gain fans and provide a spectacle? It’s difficult to argue against that but the sport’s growth and continued popularity is the most important thing long-term.

But if the race is to be introduced, it’s been suggested that the Azerbaijan GP will be dropped to make room for it – one of the most exciting races in the championship over the past three seasons. That would be shame to a country that has invested heavily in making such a spectacle.

Liberty Media have clearly done a superb job since helping to boost the entertainment value of the sport, and maybe another street circuit would add to more fan-orientated events and widen more appeal to a US audience.

It remains to be seen whether the proposal will be passed, but should the powers that be and the F1 have their offer accepted, then expect Miami to be the hottest race on the calendar.

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