Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling battle with Sebastian Vettel to win the Spanish Grand Prix and close the points gap to his rival in the Formula 1 drivers’ standings.
Hamilton recovered from losing the lead to Vettel at the start by reclaiming first place on track in a final-stint battle that included the two champs banging wheels.
Mercedes driver Hamilton crossed the line 3.4 seconds clear of Vettel’s Ferrari, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium.
Valtteri Bottas, who won the previous race in Russia, was on course to finish third, but retired when his Mercedes power unit expired with a third of the race to go.
Bottas had earlier triggered the exits of last year’s Spanish Grand Prix lead players of Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen, when he tagged Raikkonen into the first corner of the race and sent the Ferrari sideways into Verstappen’s Red Bull.
While Bottas continued, Raikkonen and Verstappen were out with heavy damage.
Ahead of that incident, Vettel had made a sensational getaway from second on the grid to move ahead of Hamilton into Turn 1.
Vettel went about gradually increasing his lead before pitting for another set of softs at the end of lap 14 of 66 and suffering a minor delay on the front left.
Mercedes decided to keep Hamilton out, and he immediately pumped in the fastest lap of the race and stretched his stint by an extra five laps.
When he did come in, Hamilton took on the medium tyres – and he was helped by Bottas staying out even longer and holding Vettel up for a spell until a bold pass in which Ferrari jinked from one side of the pits straight to the other and brushed the grass before completing the move.
The race swung back to Hamilton when Mercedes pitted him just as a virtual safety car – caused when Stoffel Vandoorne ended up in the gravel at Turn 1 after banging wheels with Felipe Massa – ended.
Hamilton rejoined on soft tyres, 24 seconds behind Vettel.
Ferrari immediately pitted Vettel for mediums on the next lap, but Hamilton was alongside as he rejoined.
Hamilton kept his foot in and tried to go around the outside but Vettel squeezed him and they touched, with Hamilton taking to the run-off.
The three-time world champion regrouped, got back on the attack and five laps later – on lap 44 no less – the move was done with DRS help around the outside into Turn 1.
Hamilton then controlled the gap to Vettel behind to take his second victory of the 2017 season.
Behind the lonely Ricciardo, Force India continued its impressive start to the season with Sergio Perez fourth and Esteban Ocon a career-best fifth.
Nico Hulkenberg secured his best result for Renault with sixth.
A brilliant drive on a unique one-stop strategy brought Pascal Wehrlein up to seventh on the road for Sauber.
Although a five-second time penalty for failing to stay to the correct side of the pit entry bollard meant he lost that position to Carlos Sainz, Wehrlein’s late burst of speed meant he still secured eighth rather than falling right out of the points as initially seemed likely.
Sainz spent most of the race in a spectacular battle with Kevin Magnussen, who lost a likely point when contact with Daniil Kvyat left him with a puncture.
Kvyat and Romain Grosjean completed the top ten.
After his heroic qualifying performance, Fernando Alonso immediately fell back from his seventh place having made contact with Felipe Massa at the first corner.
While Massa had to pit with a puncture, Alonso continued in P11 but his pace faded later on before a late third stop for fresh softs allowed him to charge back to P12 – his first race finish of 2017.
Overall, a fantastic result for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. That wheel-to-wheel duel with Sebastian Vettel was entertaining and I look forward to the next race as the two champions fight for title honours.
Spanish Grand Prix, race results after 66 laps:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h35m56.497s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 3.490s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m13.978s
4 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1 Lap
5 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1 Lap
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 Lap
7 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1 Lap
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault 1 Lap
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1 Lap
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1 Lap
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 2 Laps
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 2 Laps
13 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 2 Laps
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 2 Laps
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 2 Laps
16 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 2 Laps
– Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Power Unit
– Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda Collision
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault Collision
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Collision
1 Sebastian Vettel 104
2 Lewis Hamilton 98
3 Valtteri Bottas 63
4 Kimi Raikkonen 49
5 Daniel Ricciardo 37
6 Max Verstappen 35
7 Sergio Perez 34
8 Esteban Ocon 19
9 Felipe Massa 18
10 Carlos Sainz 15
11 Nico Hulkenberg 14
12 Pascal Wehrlein 6
13 Romain Grosjean 5
14 Kevin Magnussen 4
15 Daniil Kvyat 4
16 Marcus Ericsson 0
17 Lance Stroll 0
18 Fernando Alonso 0
19 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
20 Jolyon Palmer 0
21 Stoffel Vandoorne 0
1 Mercedes 161
2 Ferrari 153
3 Red Bull-Renault 72
4 Force India-Mercedes 53
5 Toro Rosso-Renault 19
6 Williams-Mercedes 18
7 Renault 14
8 Haas-Ferrari 9
9 Sauber-Ferrari 6
10 McLaren-Honda 0