Hamilton leads a Mercedes 1-2 in Spain

An easy Sunday afternoon drive for the defending champion. Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back Formula 1 victories as he headed home a dominant Mercedes one-two in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton defeated team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than 20 seconds after a surprise second stop under a virtual safety car for Sebastian Vettel dropped Ferrari off the podium.

In his place came Max Verstappen, who fended off Vettel despite a damaged front wing to score his first podium of the year.

Vettel jumped Bottas into Turn 1 to slot into second before the race was immediately neutralised under a safety car for a multi-car crash at Turn 3.

Romain Grosjean had just got ahead of Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso after those ran deep into Turn 2, but then overreacted to a wobble from Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen ahead of him and ran wide on the entry to Turn 3.

Grosjean lost the rear but seemed to keep the throttle planted, which lit up the rear tyres, spun him back across the track and meant he was collected by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

All three retired on the spot and a lengthy clean-up operation began, before racing resumed on lap 7.

Hamilton bolted clear at the restart, comfortably stretching his advantage to more than seven seconds over the next ten laps, until Vettel stopped.

A slow out-lap as Vettel struggled to get an immediate hit on its fresh medium tyres, combined with Bottas pumping in outright best sector times, looked to have handed second position to Mercedes.

But Bottas suffered a slow pitstop, losing 1.4 seconds to Vettel, and emerged just behind.

The procession was interrupted on lap 25 by the first of two incidents involving Ferrari.

First, Kimi Raikkonen slowed from fourth position and coaxed his car back into the pits to retire – The Iceman had taken a new engine after Friday practice.

The second came 15 laps later, when Esteban Ocon’s smoking, parked Force India sparked a virtual safety car and Ferrari reacted by pitting Vettel and putting him on a two-stop strategy as the other frontrunners stuck to a one-stop.

That gave track position to Bottas and Verstappen, but kept Vettel ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel, with fresh medium tyres, started to catch Verstappen as the Red Bull driver battled with a front wing missing the left endplate, which he broke clipping a Williams at the VSC restart.

However, Verstappen just kept clear of Vettel to score his first podium of the season behind the Mercedes one-two.

Ricciardo slipped back to a lonely fifth after a curious second half of the race.

Having run within ten seconds of Verstappen at the VSC, he dropped big chunks of time at certain points and ended up 21 seconds behind his team-mate despite responding with the fastest lap near the end.

Kevin Magnussen produced a faultless drive to claim sixth and best-of-the-rest honours for Haas, while Sainz survived a fuel problem in the closing stages to finish seventh.

Alonso was eighth for McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India, while Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc earned his second points finish in a row with tenth.

So not the most exciting Spanish Grand Prix as aerodynamics and circuit layout makes overtaking difficult. The most dramatic moment was at the opening lap in which three cars got wiped out.

Congratulations to Mercedes in scoring a perfect 1-2 result at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This was Lewis Hamilton’s 64th victory in Formula 1 and extends his championship lead to Sebastian Vettel by 17 points.

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1h35m29.972s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 20.593s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 66 26.873s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 27.584s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 66 50.058s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 65 1 Lap
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 65 1 Lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 65 1 Lap
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
11 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 64 2 Laps
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 63 3 Laps
– Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 45 Retirement
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 38 Retirement
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 25 Retirement
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 0 Collision
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 0 Collision
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton 95
2 Sebastian Vettel 78
3 Valtteri Bottas 58
4 Kimi Raikkonen 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 47
6 Max Verstappen 33
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 22
9 Kevin Magnussen 19
10 Carlos Sainz 19
11 Sergio Perez 17
12 Pierre Gasly 12
13 Charles Leclerc 9
14 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
15 Lance Stroll 4
16 Marcus Ericsson 2
17 Esteban Ocon 1
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:

1 Mercedes 153
2 Ferrari 126
3 Red Bull-Renault 80
4 Renault 41
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Haas-Ferrari 19
7 Force India-Mercedes 18
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 13
9 Sauber-Ferrari 11
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Hamilton leads Silver Arrows front row in Spain

Lewis Hamilton leads a Mercedes front row at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, from Valtteri Bottas with title rival Sebastian Vettel in third.

The defending champion was fastest after the first runs in the Q3 top ten shootout, and like Bottas opted for another set of supersoft Pirellis for his second run.

Hamilton banged in a lap of one minute, 16.173 seconds to shave just over three tenths off his earlier time to secure top spot.

Bottas was a little bit faster than Hamilton in the first and third sectors, but Hamilton’s mighty speed in the second sector meant Bottas ended up second best.

With some of Mercedes’ rivals struggling to get the best out of the supersofts, Sebastian Vettel used softs to take third place for Ferrari, 0.132 seconds off the pace.

His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth.

That put him ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who were separated by just two thousandths of a second in fourth and fifth.

This was despite the Red Bull drivers splitting their tyre choice, with Verstappen setting his time on supersofts and Ricciardo on softs.

Kevin Magnussen was best of the rest for Haas, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Romain Grosjean was ninth, ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz.

Nine of the top ten drivers used the soft Pirellis to set their Q2 times, meaning all except Alonso, who used supersofts, will start on that tyre compound.

Stoffel Vandoorne lapped 0.223 seconds slower than team-mate Alonso in Q2 using soft Pirellis, ending up in P11 and fastest of the five drivers eliminated at that stage.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P12, just ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Sauber’s Charles Leclerc managed to split the Force Indias with a lap of one minute, 18.910 seconds, almost two-tenths faster than Sergio Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest driver to be eliminated in Q1 in P16 after Vandoorne made a late improvement.

The Renault driver was unable to set a time on his first run owing to what the team described as a “fuel pressure issue” that held him back throughout Q1, and only had time for a single attempt on his second run – ending up 0.038 seconds slower than Vandoorne.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was P17, over half-a-second behind Hulkenberg, with Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who must serve a three-place grid penalty thanks to hitting Sergio Perez on the first lap of the last race in Baku, P18.

Lance Stroll was P19, crashing exiting the Turn 12 right-hander on his final flier after running wide then losing it on the throttle at the exit as he ran into the gravel.

He spun, glancing the wall, and ended up coming to rest at the entry of Turn 13.

Brendon Hartley did not participate in qualifying after spinning at the high-speed Campsa right-hander at the end of the third free practice session and backing heavily into the barriers.

His Toro Rosso team could not get the car repaired during the two-hour gap before qualifying. So will start the race last.

So a superb Mercedes one-two qualifying result. The first for the team this season. Two years ago, the Silver Arrows started on the front row but clashed on the opening lap… Fingers crossed the Spanish Grand Prix will be incident-free for Hamilton and Bottas.

Qualifying positions, Spanish Grand Prix:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.173s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m16.213s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.305s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m16.612s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m16.816s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m16.818s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m17.676s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m17.721s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m17.790s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m17.835s
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m18.323s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m18.463s
13 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m18.696s
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m18.910s
15 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m19.098s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.923s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m19.493s
18 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m20.225s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m19.695s
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda –