Lewis Hamilton buoyant after 'rawest fight' with Sebastian Vettel in Spain

Lynette Rowe
May 18, 2017

Victory cut the deficit to Vettel to five points at the top of the drivers' championship.

Third placed driver in this competition was Daniel Ricciardo, from Red Bull.

Even as Vettel took the lead, it was a mixed start for Ferrari, as Kimi Räikkönen's Formula 1 auto was squeezed between those of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, causing contact that broke his and the Red Bull driver's suspension. This forced contact between Räikkönen and Red Bull's other driver, Max Verstappen, ending the race prematurely for both. This crash resulted in suspension damage on the Ferrari and the Red Bull, thus eliminating Raikkonen and Verstappen from the race.

Stoffel Vandoorne then crashed into Felipe Massa at turn one. However, Ferrari chose to pit the German earlier in the race.

In an attempt to avoid being undercut by Mercedes, Vettel pitted on lap 15.

Hamilton took 14 seconds lead against Vettel.

Mercedes sensed an opportunity and hauled Hamilton into the pit lane for his second and final stop. However, Mercedes chose to keep Bottas out for a bit longer in order to hold up Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton finished the 66-lap contest 3.5 seconds ahead of the four-time champion German, having blasted past him to regain the lead after 44 laps.

Both Raikkonen and Verstappen were unable to continue, and while Bottas solidered on - indeed he played a crucial role in assisting Hamilton's victory by holding Vettel up in the opening phase of the race - he later retired when his Mercedes engine expired.

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The four-time world champion was closing in fast on Bottas down the front straight at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Lap 25, but even with DRS open, Vettel didn't have an easy time passing him.

"When you need to follow a auto that close behind, you obviously haven't got the aerodynamic benefit of the guy in front". As the Mercedes driver tried to go around the outside of Turn 1, the German squeezed him, causing their tyres to touch. Ferrari too brought Vettel in for a set of medium tyres in lap 38.

When Ferrari beat Mercedes to the first pit stop, preventing Hamilton stealing a march by stopping earlier and benefiting from fresh tyres, the race appeared to be Vettel's to lose.

He added: "I don't think it's impossible to catch the leaders at some point, maybe it will take a little longer than we had hoped but we will get there".

The medium rubber was between seven-tenths and around two seconds a lap slower than the soft, meaning that, while it had to be used, the teams wanted to minimise the number of laps it was on the auto.

Speaking to Sky F1, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said: "His race was pretty much gone after contact in Turn One".

"Having a battle and a fight with another team, it's so much more enjoyable", said Hamilton, whose new team mate Valtteri Bottas won in Russian Federation last month but retired in Barcelona with an engine failure. Renault's Niko Hulkenberg crossed the finish line in sixth position. Haas' Roman Grosjean finished tenth, thus completing the points table for the Spanish GP.

The next F1 race is the Monaco Grand Prix on May 28.

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