F1 round-up: Hamilton beats Vettel in thrilling duel in Spain

Sport360 staff 14/05/2017

Lewis Hamilton edged Sebastian Vettel in a thrilling duel in Spain which saw both drivers overtake each other, as well as a wheel-to-wheel battle between the Mercedes and Ferrari men.

Vettel got the jump at the start to pass pole-sitter Hamilton, and set about extending his lead in the early stages of the race. Mercedes tweaked their strategy tweak to put Hamilton on the slower, medium tyres after his first pit stop, after Vettel had already pitted and stuck to the soft tyres.

It meant that Hamilton would be on the quicker tyre after the second round of pit stops, allowing him to attack. And the Brit nearly went ahead right after Vettel's second stop, as the German came out from the pit lane only inches ahead of his rival. The two went wheel-to-wheel, but Hamilton was forced wide and Vettel kept his place.

However, Mercedes' strategy decision paid off as he was able to attack Vettel, and he regained the lead on Lap 44 with a relatively straightforward pass. From there, he controlled the race to wrap up a victory and cut Vettel's championship lead to six points.

DRIVER OF THE DAY

It was a close-run fight between Vettel and Hamilton, but the Ferrari man won this particular battle, if not the race itself. Vettel got off to an excellent start to take the lead from Hamilton, and later pulled off a brilliant overtake on Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas, who was doing a job for his team by holding Vettel up.

FASTEST LAP

After Hamilton overtook Vettel, he set about extending his gap to avoid the threat of Vettel coming back at him at the end of the race. Ultimately, he practically cruised to victory, picking up the fastest lap on Lap 65.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Last year's winner in Spain, Max Verstappen, was always unlikely to reprise his heroics this season, but to not make it out of the first lap would have been a bitter disappointment.

A racing incident in which Bottas struck Kimi Raikkonen, who consequently hit Verstappen, saw both Raikkonen and Verstappen out of the race.

ONE TO WATCH

Pascal Wehrlein got his best-ever F1 finish, ending up 7th on the track, although he was knocked down to 8th due to a five-second penalty. The penalty was down to a careless error, but the Sauber driver had an excellent race otherwise.

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Alonso delivers stunning qualifying performance to go 7th

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One day on from abandoning practice to play tennis after yet another Honda engine failure, Fernando Alonso qualified seventh on Saturday for the Spanish Grand Prix.

“A beautiful day,” he declared, beaming in front of his adoring home fans at the Circuit de Catalunya, where he won his last Formula One race, with Ferrari, four years ago.

“Today was a beautiful day, a beautiful qualifying, in which we were finding tenth after tenth. Then, surprisingly we made it into Q3 and we had another very good lap…

“As I said yesterday (Friday), sometimes the weekends start the wrong way, but then they fix themselves and vice versa. The important thing now is tomorrow — to try and get a few points.”

On Friday morning, he was unable to run in the opening practice after his McLaren-Honda engine failed, returning in the afternoon for an unimpressive set of laps in second practice.

But overnight work on a progressive car that has been let down by its power unit paid dividends on Saturday for the two-time champion who is set to miss the Monaco Grand Prix later this month.

Instead, he flies to the United States on Monday to begin preparations for the Indianapolis 500 for which he passed his rookie test last week.

“Maybe, on the oval, I learned how to go quick on the straights as well,” he said. “For me, it was a good qualifying for us and P7 is a gift so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Alonso outpaced his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne by half a second, the Belgian qualifying 19th.

“Yesterday was not a normal session,” added Alonso. “We had the problem in the morning and then the car was half ready for the second session. I said we would be more competitive today…

“It was better than expected, but the support from the people gives a few extra tenths.”

A McLaren revival may persuade Alonso to stay with the team next year.

On Thursday, he told a news conference he would be open to offers from other teams if McLaren-Honda were not able to develop a potential race-winning car for 2018 before the end of August.

From AFP

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Hamilton beats Vettel to pole position in Spain

F1i 13/05/2017
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Lewis Hamilton will start the Spanish Grand Prix from pole position after comprehensively seeing off his rivals in qualifying at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Saturday.

It’s the 32-year-old’s 64th career pole and his third of the season, having already started at the front in Melbourne and Shanghai. It’s an important return to form after losing out to Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain and Sebastian Vettel in Sochi.

Both Mercedes drivers had put in a dazzling pair of laps at the start of the final round of qualifying. Hamilton’s opening gambit was timed at 1:19.149s which was almost three seconds faster than last year’s pole time and a quarter of a second clear of Bottas.

The first runs of both Ferrari drivers were also sub-1:20s, as was that of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. However his team mate Daniel Ricciardo was half a second off the leaders. He was the slowest of the six drivers to make two runs in Q3.

Hamilton was subsequently unable to improve his time with his final run. However, Vettel’s second run leap-frogged the Ferrari ahead of Bottas for second place, missing out on pole by just half of a tenth of a second.

An impressive lap from Fernando Alonso gave McLaren a much needed boost before the Spanisard’s adoring home crowd. The two-time world champion is set to start from seventh place alongside Force India’s Sergio Perez.

Williams’ Felipe Massa and Perez’ teammate Esteban Ocon will line up on the fifth row for the start of tomorrow’s race.

SCARE FOR VETTERL AT START OF Q1

The 2.5s performance advantage meant that everyone was straight onto the soft compound tyres at the start of qualifying. Lewis Hamilton’s sole contribution of Q1 clocked in at 1:20.511s to ensure he progressed to the second round ahead of Raikkonen.

Vettel was one of the first cars out after Ferrari completed a precautionary engine change on the car in the interval since FP3. Despite an early scare where it seemed he would have to park the car, Vettel posted a time of 1:20.939s to make sure he also made it through.

After an overnight electrical problem and a morning water leak forced him to revert to an old power unit, Bottas was fourth fastest in the opening round ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo. Haas’ Romain Grosjean recovered from a spin at turn 14 early in Q1 to go seventh with his second run. That put him eight hundredths ahead of Ocon, with Toro Ross’s Carlos Sainz close behind.

Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein made it through to Q2 by just five thousandths of a second ahead of his team mate Marcus Ericsson, who was the first driver in the drop zone. After a strong performance in Friday practice, Jolyon Palmer was disappointed to find himself eliminated along with Williams’ Lance Stroll, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and an atypically sluggish Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso.

GROSJEAN’S PROBLEMS AT TURN 14 CONTINUE

Once again, Hamilton needed only a single lap of 1:20.210s to take care of business in Q2. By comparison Bottas locked up and ran wide in turn 1 on his first flying lap, and was forced to run a put more wear on his race tyres to put in a lap just under a tenth off his team mate.

Bottas was deposed from second by Vettel, with Raikkonen laying claim to fourth ahead of the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo by the midway point. The top six all felt safe enough to to stay in the garage as the clock counted down. They would be joined in Q3 by Ocon and his team mate Perez, with Massa also making it into final round.

A flurry of flying laps ended with some much needed cheer for McLaren as Fernando Alonso succeeded in making it through to Q3 in tenth place. Neither Haas progressed, with Grosjean’s final flying lap once again ending up in a mess going into turn 14. Also eliminated as the chequered flag came out were Hulkenberg and Wehrlein.

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