Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

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

Lewis Hamilton AFP GETTYLewis Hamilton gears up for the Spanish Grand Prix
Patty Aguilar | 15 May, 2018, 13:11

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton on Saturday won the pole position for the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix in one minute, 16.173 seconds. "It is always a hard decision to make and we debated it here again and for us it was clear that track position was more important", he said.

"I couldn't have done it without this incredibly team", Hamilton said post-race.

Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff says that his team is back in business after watching drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas score a ideal one-two finsh at the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Within a few laps a six-second lead over championship rival Sebastian Vettel appeared ominous, and indeed it was as the Ferrari, hitherto the best auto in the field, couldn't get anyway where near the back of the Mercedes. "Today I felt that synergy with the vehicle that I have not felt all year so now we have to do it again". "It's a good feeling".

While there was more than a hint of fortune about the opening victory of his title defence in Azerbaijan a fortnight ago, there could be no denying Hamilton's win here at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

"I'm OK", he responded on the team's radio link.

For the British driver and Mercedes this was the controlled and perfectly orchestrated race they have craved all season. "It feels like a long time since we had a 1-2 finish, so there's definitely a measure of relief in how we asserted ourselves".

"It is a little early to say, but I would like to hope it could be a turning point".

Hamilton will hope also that Ferrari fail to repeat the form that brought them a one-two finish in the Mediterranean principality past year where Vettel won.

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Grosjean teammate, Kevin Magnussen, finished best of the midfield drivers in sixth thanks to Kimi Raikkonen's lap-25 retirement with a power unit problem, and Renault's Carlos Sainz came home seventh.

The safety vehicle 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.

The decision to perform a second pit during a virtual safety vehicle period seemed like a gamble worth taking given Ferrari had been no match for Mercedes' pace. He lost time in the pits and came back onto the track behind Verstappen, and was unable to make up the difference despite the newer tires. "I think it was the right thing to do", said Vettel.

Hamilton never really had much of a challenge all race, taking the lead at the start, and except for one pit stop, regained the lead on lap 35 and kept it for rest of the afternoon.

A quick look at the race highlights from the Spanish GP.

A chaotic race start saw three drivers taken out in the first lap when Haas' Romain Grosjean took himself, Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg out of the race before it even started. It was gutsy, especially after the criticism they received after failing to take advantage of the safety auto to pit Hamilton in China.

Later in the race, Verstappen was running fourth when he clipped his front wing on a Williams under the virtual safety auto, but the damage was not significant and he didn't have to make an extra stop.

"The last three races have been fantastic, so why not just let that go until [the 2021 rules reset], then use those two or three years to get it done properly?"

"But I got a good start and after that the others didn't have the pace to keep up with me".

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