Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Hamilton hails 'rejuvenating' Spanish GP win

GETTY    
   Lewis Hamilton is looking good ahead of qualifying later today GETTY Lewis Hamilton is looking good ahead of qualifying later today
| 16 May, 2018, 15:13

Following a hard run of races which had led some to question the Briton's motivation, the world champion and his Mercedes team were simply unbeatable in Barcelona as he won by over 20 seconds from teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The defending world champion had to wait until the fourth round in Azerbaijan to pick up his first win of the campaign, but an imperious drive in Barcelona made it back-to-back victories for the Briton.

It also set a record, one that Hamilton had previously shared with seven times champion Michael Schumacher, of 41 wins from pole position.

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

So, while Sunday's result will be hugely encouraging to Hamilton and Mercedes, it should not be taken as an indication that the team will dominate from here on in.

"I said that I wanted to win in the way that I won and I guess, when I was coming across the line, I was just happy that I did it as I planned".

"People probably think it was an easy race and I was cruising but I wasn't cruising", he explained. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) + 27.584, 5.

Mercedes has struggled compared to Ferrari at times this season, with Sebastian Vettel winning the opening two races and taking three consecutive pole positions as the Scuderia had a more consistent auto.

He now has 95 points to Vettel's 78 after five rounds of the 21-race championship.

GETTY    
     Hamilton made the best of the conditions at the Spanish Grand Prix
GETTY Hamilton made the best of the conditions at the Spanish Grand Prix

"We couldn't make the tyres last so for us it was clear we come in again", Vettel clarified.

However, Vettel - now trailing race victor Lewis Hamilton by 17 points in the drivers' standings - says rapid tire wear had become an issue for the team and that they had no choice but to bring him in for that costly second stop. I think it was the right thing to do. We were just not quick enough and even at the end I was not in a healthy shape with the tires even though mine were the freshest.

Vettel stopped on lap 17 for a new set of tyres, while Bottas was called in by Mercedes two laps later.

Assessing what this victory means going forward is difficult as Barcelona has always been a strong track for Mercedes, mostly because of the use of harder tyres which suit their auto more than Ferrari and Red Bull.

Vettel's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, also struggled in the Spanish GP, having to retire because of a loss of power near the halfway-point. McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne also retired because of a auto failure.

When Vettel made his second stop during a late virtual safety vehicle period, after Esteban Ocon parked up his Force India by the side of the track, it backfired and he lost places instead of gaining anything. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +26.873, 4. He said, "It feels nice to be on the podium and nice to have a good clean race".

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. His finish helped Haas jump up to 6th place with 19 points, one ahead of Force India.

The leading cars navigated the opening metres without drama, but the same could not be said further behind after a three-way crash was sparked by the error-prone Romain Grosjean.

Mexican Sergio Perez was ninth for Force India and Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc took the final point for Sauber.


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