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.
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.
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.