Mercedes restores order at top with Hamilton's Spanish Grand Prix win

May 14, 2018, 04:55
Mercedes restores order at top with Hamilton's Spanish Grand Prix win

Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix in a commanding Mercedes one-two on Sunday to stretch his Formula One lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel from four to 17 points. Team mate Valtteri Bottas took second place while Red Bull's Max Verstappen took third place after a botched pit stop ruined Sebastian Vettel's chance of making podium during a virtual safety vehicle stint.

Vettel stayed ahead in what had seemed like a logical one-stop race for all the drivers starting on the soft tyre, but Ferrari surprised everyone by bringing the German in for another set of medium tyres on lap 42. "I needed this pole because I haven't had one for a while".

"This is more like it, let's keep this up", Hamilton told his celebrating team over the radio as he swept past the checkered flag.

The victory will be hugely pleasing and of some relief to the British driver and his team.

Hamilton pulled away early and was able to comfortably control the pace of the race through to the end, finishing more than 20 seconds ahead of his teammate. "These guys have done an awesome job, and I'm just really proud of everyone". It has been a constant learning process with the tyres, getting them working in a very narrow window.

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All eyes now turn to Monaco for arguably the most iconic of the season's races on May 27.

But Mercedes, who pitted some 10 laps earlier than the two Red Bulls, managed their tyres to the finish, while Vettel's hopes were futher dashed by his own slow second stop under the virtual safety auto.

The race leader had to navigate multiple virtual safety auto periods during the race, as well as a full safety vehicle deployed for an opening lap crash caused by Romain Grosjean who had spun in Turn 3.

All three drivers were unhurt but it was an exceptionally risky incident and why Grosjean kept his foot on the gas as he span, causing smoke that unsighted the following drivers, seems inexplicable.

Mercedes was in front in Barcelona the entire weekend, setting the fastest time in all practice sessions and taking pole position with Hamilton - his first since the season-opener in Australia. Sensitive nerves no longer jangling, Hamilton leaves Barcelona with the assured calm he has been looking for since reeling from that shell-shocked second in Melbourne.

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The safety auto was deployed for six laps here to deal with the debris before Hamilton executed a masterful restart to leave Vettel for dust, and by lap 15, the Brit had already moved 6.5 seconds clear of his rival.

Ferrari and Vettel clearly felt the consequences of the decision - but so did Mercedes, who capitalised to take both first and second place.

Max Verstappen, who ran into Williams' Sergey Sirotkin, took third with a broken left front-end plate for his first podium of the season. This brought out the virtual safety vehicle while Ocon's stricken VJM11 was hauled off the track, allowing Vettel a reduced-cost pit stop for another set of medium tires.

All three were out of the race in an instant to mark another embarrassing chapter for Grosjean after he crashed out under the safety vehicle last time out in Baku.

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