Hamilton reclaims championship lead after Spanish Grand Prix victory

Lewis Hamilton reclaims championship lead from team-mate Valtteri Bottas after dominant drive sees Briton ease to Spanish Grand Prix victory

  • Lewis Hamilton returns to the top of the championship standings with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix
  • The five-time world champion started second but overtook team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the opening lap 
  • Mercedes dominated the pace and claimed yet another one-two as Ferrari’s struggles this season continue
  • RECAP: Find out how the race at the Catalunya circuit played out with lap-by-lap updates from the race 
  • READ: Keep up to date with all the latest Formula One news, features and points tables from the season 

Lewis Hamilton reclaimed the world championship lead by winning the Spanish Grand Prix as confusion reigned at Ferrari.

The Brit stormed off the start, passing pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas in a blur of power and led for the rest of the afternoon. It was his third win of the season and nipped in the bud Bottas’ putative title thrust, for now at least. Hamilton leads Bottas, who finished second, by seven points.

While it was plain sailing for Mercedes, who recorded their record-extending sequence of one-two finishes to five, Ferrari tied themselves in knots once Sebastian Vettel flat-spotted his tyres with an extravagant attempt to take the lead at the first corner. 

Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Spanish Grand Prix to replace team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the top of the drivers’ standings

Hamilton celebrates victory at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack with his Mercedes pit crew after the end of the race

Hamilton celebrates victory at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack with his Mercedes pit crew after the end of the race

It continues Mercedes' dominance of F1 this season - it was their fifth one-two finish after Bottas came home second

It continues Mercedes’ dominance of F1 this season – it was their fifth one-two finish after Bottas came home second

Hamilton salutes the crowd and stands atop his victorious Mercedes after claiming a dominant victory in Barcelona

Hamilton salutes the crowd and stands atop his victorious Mercedes after claiming a dominant victory in Barcelona

The first corner saw Hamilton, Bottas (left) and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari (right) go wheel-to-wheel for the race lead

The first corner saw Hamilton, Bottas (left) and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari (right) go wheel-to-wheel for the race lead

Vettel picked up a flat spot on one of his tyres during the frantic start and went wide off the track in pursuit of the Mercedes

Vettel picked up a flat spot on one of his tyres during the frantic start and went wide off the track in pursuit of the Mercedes

RACE, DRIVERS AND CONSTRUCTORS STANDINGS 

1 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:35:50.443 

2 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES +4.074s 

3 Max Verstappen RED BULL +7.679s

4 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI +9.167s

5 Charles Leclerc FERRARI +13.361s

6 Pierre Gasly RED BULL +19.576s

7 Kevin Magnussen HAAS +28.159s

8 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN +32.342s

9 Daniil Kvyat TORO ROSSO +33.056s

10 Romain Grosjean HAAS +34.641s

11 Alex Albon TORO ROSSO +35.445s

12 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT +36.758s

13 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT +39.241s

14 Kimi Raikkonen ALFA ROMEO +41.803s

15 Sergio Perez RACING POINT +46.877s

16 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO +47.691s

17 George Russell WILLIAMS +1 lap

18 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS +1 lap

DNF Lance Stroll RACING POINT 

DNF Lando Norris MCLAREN  

 

 

The German could not make the move stick as he went side-by-side with Hamilton and Bottas. The minor error produced a puff of smoke that might as well stand for Ferrari’s challenge in its entirety. Indeed, by the end of the race, Vettel was 48 points behind Hamilton.

Max Verstappen, who finished third for Red Bull, went past the hobbling Vettel at the third corner. So, at that early stage, it was Hamilton-Bottas-Verstappen-Vettel at the front, and in fifth place was Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari and carrying more speed than Vettel with his damaged rubber.

What would Ferrari do? They issued an order to let Leclerc through. Vettel obliged, while complaining about his need to be re-shod.

Both Vettel and Leclerc’s stops were slow – 4.4sec. Soon it was Vettel on Leclerc’s tail. Again, what would Ferrari do? They shilly-shallied before telling Leclerc to let Vettel pass. He did so on lap 36.

Leclerc wondered aloud on the radio why he was on the hard tyres when most of the rest were on the mediums. The hards are the slowest compound but longest lasting, in theory.

‘What’s going on with the tyres?’ asked Leclerc, the 21-year-old Monegasque who has proved such a thorn in Vettel’s side this season. 

A slower start from Bottas and the error from Vettel saw Hamilton take control of the race and he never looked back thereafter

A slower start from Bottas and the error from Vettel saw Hamilton take control of the race and he never looked back thereafter

Red Bull's Pierre Gasly was well placed early on but soon resumed position behind both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers

Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly was well placed early on but soon resumed position behind both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers

Charles Leclerc (left) bemoaned the slower pace of team-mate Vettel and he was soon given the order to overtake him

Charles Leclerc (left) bemoaned the slower pace of team-mate Vettel and he was soon given the order to overtake him

As it happened we did not see which strategy would have prevailed because Lando Norris kept the nose of his McLaren in on Lance Stroll’s Racing Point and they crashed on to the gravel. Tyre choices were rendered irrelevant as the safety car came out.

The safety car came out and all the leaders went in, but for Bottas who has just pitted. Leclerc also came in. Nothing changed among the front-runners, other than for Leclerc to lose a place to Verstappen.

The die was now cast and, once racing resumed, it was Hamilton in first place, Bottas second, Verstappen third, Vettel fourth and Leclerc fifth. That is how it finished. Hamilton took the fastest lap to claim the bonus point.

The level of Hamilton’s dominance was in contrast to Bottas’s fine win in Azerbaijan last time out and probably his best qualifying lap on Saturday when he was 0.6sec ahead of Hamilton, one of the quickest qualifier in motor racing history.

By restoring his grip on proceedings with his third consecutive win in Spain, Hamilton underlined the conviction of many of us that he will finish the season with a sixth world title, thanks to his own superiority and Ferrari’s failings.

However Leclerc struggled on the slowest hard tyres, and was forced to hand back position to team mate Vettel

However Leclerc struggled on the slowest hard tyres, and was forced to hand back position to team mate Vettel

Lando Norris kept the nose of his McLaren in on Lance Stroll's Racing Point and they crashed on to the gravel

Lando Norris kept the nose of his McLaren in on Lance Stroll’s Racing Point and they crashed on to the gravel

It was Norris' first retirement in F1 and made the strategies of the rest irrelevant as Hamilton eased home to victory

It was Norris’ first retirement in F1 and made the strategies of the rest irrelevant as Hamilton eased home to victory

 

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