Hamilton and Mercedes wins strategic battle to take victory

After scoring his 100th pole position, Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix thanks to a superior pitstop strategy to rival Max Verstappen.

The two title contenders came extremely close to touching at Turn 1, with Verstappen making an aggressive move to get ahead, which forced Mercedes into making two bold strategy calls to get Hamilton back into a position to win his 98th Grand Prix.

At the start, Verstappen appeared to make a faster getaway from the front row, but dipped in behind Hamilton once the Mercedes shot up to speed.

But Verstappen stole to the inside for the first corner and boldly held on to take the racing line through Turn 2, which meant the two leaders came very close to touching – Hamilton backing out and a collision avoided by the barest of margins.

Bottas followed the top three through the opening two turns, but as he trailed Hamilton through Turn 3 he was overtaken by Charles Leclerc roaring around on the outside line – emulating Fernando Alonso’s similar move at the start of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.

Leclerc muscling into third meant the top two easily began to romp away in the closing stages of the 66-lap race, with Verstappen and Hamilton the only drivers lapping in the one minute, 23 seconds.

Verstappen was able to edge clear to a near two-second lead before Hamilton had just begun to close back in when the race was suspended by a safety car period called on lap eight so Yuki Tsunoda’s car could be recovered from the outside of the reprofiled Turn 10 – the AlphaTauri appearing to shutdown on Tsunoda as he approached the long left-hander.

When the race restarted on lap 11, Verstappen dropped Hamilton exiting the final chicane and weaved across the main straight to try and disrupt the tow going back the Mercedes, which was in any case close to the following Leclerc.

As DRS was suspended for the first two laps after the restart, Hamilton could not get close while running at just under a second behind and Verstappen was able to just creep his advantage up above the critical one-second threshold when DRS was reactivated.

Much like at the start, Verstappen and Hamilton quickly pulled clear of Leclerc and Bottas – again lapping at a low one minute, 23 seconds pace that the rest of the pack could not match.

As the race moved past the end of its first third, Hamilton began to heavily pressure Verstappen, who pitted at the end of lap 24 to take the medium tyres – but had to endure a 4.2 seconds stop as the Red Bull’s new left-rear tyre was still coming out of the garage when the Dutchman arrived at his box.

But Mercedes did not bring Hamilton in to cover the Red Bull stop on the next tour – team boss Toto Wolff heard complaining to race director Michael Masi about Nikita Mazepin holding up Hamilton on the lap after Verstappen came in.

Hamilton was left out for three further laps before he came in to take the mediums, with Leclerc following him in far behind and emerging well adrift of Bottas, who had pitted the lap before Verstappen.

Verstappen comfortably retook the lead with Hamilton in the pits and had a 5.5s lead at the end of the Mercedes driver’s out-lap.

But Hamilton’s tyre offset meant he could run at a much quicker pace – the world champion carving into Verstappen’s lead by around 1.5 seconds a lap as he logged successive laps in low-to-mid one minute, 21 seconds.

By the start of lap 34, he was just a second behind the leader and continued to home in – with Mercedes even telling Bottas that his pace in third was good enough to catch the Red Bull by the end.

In the subsequent phase of the race, Hamilton was in and out of Verstappen’s DRS range, but was unable to get really close to the leader, who had upped his pace significantly to reach the one minute, 21 seconds bracket when Hamilton reached the critical on-second deficit.

With the gap at the front relatively stable, Mercedes made an aggressive call to pit Hamilton again at the end of lap 42 for another set of mediums – these ones used from earlier in the weekend.

At the end of Hamilton’s out-lap, he faced a 22 seconds gap to close, with Red Bull opting to leave Verstappen out on a one-stopper to the finish as he had no medium tyres left heading into the race.

Hamilton again carved into Verstappen’s lead – regularly setting fastest laps and going over 1.5 seconds quicker – but he did appear to lose time at one point passing Bottas just as the final 15 laps approached, with the second Mercedes ordered not to hold up the other car, but Hamilton still having to make closer-than-comfortable move into Turn 10 on lap 53.

But once Hamilton was clear he continued to rapidly close in on Verstappen with a string of fastest laps and reached the leader again on lap 59.

As they ran down the pit straight at the start of the next tour, Verstappen weaved to break the tow once again, but Hamilton’s pace was so much higher with DRS that he shot ahead on the outside line and swept back into the lead at the exact spot he had lost it on the opening lap.

Red Bull immediately then opted to pit Verstappen for a second time to chase the fastest lap bonus point – a tactic Mercedes had already taken with Bottas.

Hamilton came home with a comfortable 15.8 seconds lead at the finish, with Verstappen winning the battle to take the fastest lap with a one minute, 18.149 seconds.

Leclerc finished a lonely fourth – Bottas had had to pass him with a DRS blast in the closing stages after the Mercedes driver’s late second stop – well clear of Sergio Perez, who came home fifth after winning a lengthy mid-race scrap with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Carlos Sainz finished seventh ahead of Lando Norris, who received a black-and-white flag sanction for an aggressive late move to defend against the Ferrari into Turn 1 as the race entered its final quarter.

Esteban Ocon lost ground from his fifth place grid spot at the start and he eventually came home ninth ahead of Pierre Gasly, who came out on top of an intense fight with the pack just outside the top ten – which was at the time headed by Fernando Alonso, who eventually came home P17 – in the final laps.

Gasly had to serve a five-second penalty at his first stop for lining up too far over of his grid spot for the start.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in winning the Spanish Grand Prix from title rival Max Verstappen. The two-stop strategy was far superior even though track position is key around this circuit. Better grip and speed will reward a great result.

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33:07.680
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 15.841
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 26.610
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 54.616
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:03.671
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:13.768
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:14.670
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +1 lap
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
17 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +1 lap
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
– Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda DNF

3 thoughts to “Hamilton and Mercedes wins strategic battle to take victory”

  1. Spanish Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    An incredible, tense race-long battle between Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton saw Hamilton triumph for his sixth Spanish Grand Prix win, the reigning world champion brilliantly executing a two-stop strategy to claim his third win in four races this season, as Verstappen finished ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

    Verstappen led the majority of the race after brilliantly snatching the lead from Hamilton into Turn 1 at the start, with Red Bull then committing to a one-stop strategy around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as Hamilton opted for two.

    But with six laps to go, Hamilton used the superior performance of his newer tyres to pass the Dutchman into Turn 1 and check out for his 98th victory, and fifth straight win at the circuit – Verstappen ultimately deciding to pit for softs once Hamilton was past and go for a consolation fastest lap, which he duly got.

    With Hamilton and Verstappen having been in a class of their own in Spain, Bottas came home a distant third after his own race-long battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who overcame Ferrari’s 2021 race pace woes to take an excellent fourth, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez put in a solid recovery drive from P8 on the grid to take fifth.

    McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo drove arguably his strongest race of the year to take sixth, ahead of home hero Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari. Lando Norris in the second McLaren had an off-key afternoon but still managed P8 – the first time he’s finished outside of the top five this season – with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly rounding out the final points-paying positions.

    But after his 100th pole position on Saturday, it was Hamilton who once again demonstrated his class in Catalunya to deny Verstappen once again, and move 14 points clear at the top of the drivers’ standings.

    Lewis Hamilton may have secured pole #100 on Saturday – but he admitted ahead of the race that he was uneasy about the prospect of being outdragged at the race start on the 612-metre run down to Turn 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, either by Max Verstappen starting just alongside him in P2, or his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas just behind in P3.

    Hamilton’s fears proved well-founded, with Verstappen making a beautiful launch – so good in fact that he didn’t even need a slipstream, hanging onto Hamilton’s flanks down to Turn 1 before aggressively sticking the nose of his RB16B into the corner and forcing Hamilton to back out and concede the position.

    Hamilton’s checked momentum at Turn 1 then had a knock-on effect on his team mate Bottas, who was slow out of Turn 2, allowing Charles Leclerc to send a beautiful pass around the outside of the Finn at Turn 3 to take third place.

    By the time he crossed the line to start Lap 2, Verstappen’s advantage was already 1.5s over Hamilton, while Esteban Ocon’s fantastic P5 on the grid had become P7 after he was cautious into Turn 1, Daniel Ricciardo jumping up from seventh to P5, as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez overcame his shoulder issues from qualifying to move from eighth into sixth.

    Verstappen and Hamilton quickly built up an 8s cushion over the chasing Leclerc, who was holding up Bottas, the Finn having been unable to find his way through when AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda ground to a halt at Turn 10 on Lap 8 – with the race quickly neutralised under a Safety Car as the AT02, whose engine had turned itself off, was craned away.

    Antonio Giovinazzi took the opportunity to dive into the pits, but a puncture on the Italian’s prepared tyre set forced the Alfa Romeo mechanics into a change over, keeping Giovinazzi stopped for 35s – while Williams also took the opportunity to doble stack Russell and Latifi and put them on mediums.

    Racing resumed on Lap 11, Verstappen doing a brilliant job to resist being outdragged himself by Hamilton into Turn 1, Hamilton actually having to keep his eye on his mirrors instead to prevent an attack from Leclerc behind. Further back, and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll pulled off a sweet move on Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, holding on around the outside of Turn 4 to claim P10 from the home hero – a pass of which Stroll could be rightly proud.

    Verstappen and Hamilton quickly set about building their cushion over Leclerc again – the Ferrari driver still managing to keep Bottas at bay – but there were worries in Hamilton’s cockpit as he radioed in on Lap 18 of 66 that his tyres were going off, his right-rear especially showing signs of blistering.

    Despite that, it was Verstappen who blinked first and pitted on Lap 24 – but an uncharacteristically slow stop for Red Bull saw Verstappen stopped for 4.2s with the left-rear tyre not going on smartly. He emerged in P5, but was quickly moved ahead of team mate Perez in front, as Hamilton opted to extend his stint at the front.

    Hamilton was brought in four laps after Verstappen on Lap 28 – but while Mercedes’ stop was quicker than Red Bull’s, Verstappen had used the undercut to good effect, with Hamilton exiting a full 6s back from the Dutch driver. Bottas, meanwhile, had been doing his own undercutting, pitting on Lap 23 to Leclerc’s Lap 28, and doing enough to jump the Monegasque in the pit stops and make it back to third, albeit 8s off the fight at the front – while Sainz had also moved past Ocon for P7.

    Hamilton was lapping incredible rapidly around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, cranking the pressure up on Verstappen as he quickly reduced the gap down to around a second – but with the Briton unable to get close enough to try an overtake.

    Then on Lap 41, Hamilton rolled the dice, sweeping into the pits and putting on a set of scrubbed medium tyres and rejoining in third. Verstappen was out in front – but he’d been in this position before, with his engineer GianPiero Lambiase warning Verstappen “it could be Hungary all over again” – referring to the 2019 Hungaroring race, where Mercedes out-strategied Red Bull to allow Hamilton to win. It would prove to be a prescient call from the Red Bull pit wall…

    With 15 laps to go, Verstappen was 9s clear of Bottas, with Hamilton a further 2s back, and Leclerc fourth – while Perez moved past Ricciardo to claim P5 with a lovely move around the outside of Turn 1.

    Bottas was instructed by Mercedes not to hold Hamilton up – but there might have been some choice words being uttered in Hamilton’s helmet, as Bottas didn’t exactly make life easy for his team mate, Hamilton eventually being forced to dive past the Finn into Turn 10 on Lap 52, Bottas then pitting for softs and dropping behind Leclerc to fourth, before passing the Ferrari again on Lap 57.

    So it was now Verstappen vs Hamilton, one-stop plays two-stop – and with Verstappen understandably worried about the charging Hamilton, who was lapping at an average of 1.5s a lap quicker.

    On his fresher rubber, Hamilton was quickly on the Red Bull’s tail – Verstappen admitting after the race that he’d been a “sitting duck”, as Hamilton, having played the patience game throughout the Grand Prix, was finally able to unleash the pass on the Dutchman into Turn 1 on Lap 60.

    And just like that, it was game over, Hamilton able to pull away easily on his fresher rubber, crossing the line at the end of Lap 66 to extend his winning streak to five consecutive Spanish Grand Prix victories – and six at the venue in total – while Verstappen disconsolately ducked into the pits a few laps from the end, to take what was effectively a free pit stop, bolting on soft tyres and claiming the fastest lap bonus point.

    That will have been scant consolation, however, on a day when Red Bull were outmanoeuvred by Mercedes once again, Hamilton now with three wins to Verstappen’s one this season. Bottas had never really been in the fight at the front, coming home third – while there were likely to be strong words from Mercedes management about his less-than-helpful on-track interaction with his team mate…

    Leclerc was finally able to match his race pace to his qualifying pace, finishing in the P4 he’d started in, and comfortably ahead of Sergio Perez, who may have recovered well from his eighth place in qualifying – but who was nonetheless over a minute behind Hamilton at the flag.

    Ricciardo managed to be the quickest McLaren driver on a Sunday for the first time this season, taking sixth by just 0.9s from Sainz, Norris and Ocon finishing P8 and P9 – while a fantastic scrap for the final point of the day went the way of Pierre Gasly, who won out after a brave late move on Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin.

    Stroll thus took 11th from Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen – the only driver to start the race on the medium tyres – with Vettel 13th, as both Aston Martins failed to score for the second race in succession, despite Stroll and Vettel being kitted out with the team’s latest upgrade. George Russell had been sharking around the near the points for much of the afternoon but endured a late tumble down the order to 14th.

    Giovinazzi and Latifi were 15th and 16th, with Alonso also falling down the order in the latter stages to finish 17th – while the two Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin finished two laps down in 18th and 19th, as Tsunoda registered as the race’s only retiree.

    But for the third race weekend out of four this season, a battle between Hamilton and Verstappen went the way of the seven-time champion – with Red Bull surely hoping to strike back hard at Monaco in two weeks’ time.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has credited his Mercedes team in taking a “good gamble” on Spanish Grand Prix strategy. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Lewis Hamilton thanked his Mercedes team for a “good gamble” on his Formula 1 race strategy after recovering a 22-second gap to pass Max Verstappen for victory in Spain.

    Pole-sitter Hamilton was passed by Verstappen at Turn 1 on the opening lap, and spent the first stint of the race trailing the Red Bull driver, ultimately falling 5.5 seconds behind after pitting.

    Hamilton was then able to close up to Verstappen on the medium tyres, and was set to overtake before Mercedes called him in for a second pitstop.

    With Red Bull committing Verstappen to a one-stop strategy, Hamilton was able to put his fresher tyres to good use, taking two seconds per lap out of the Dutchman to carve into the gap.

    He ultimately overtook for the lead with seven laps remaining, clinching his third victory of the season in the process and moving 14 points clear at the top of the drivers’ championship.

    “[It was] such a close start, obviously there was a little rubber down on the right-hand side and the Red Bull made a great start,” Hamilton said.

    “Then I was just hunting, and I was so close for so long, and I didn’t think in doing that I was going to be able to make the tyres last.

    “But I just managed to just keep them in somehow. And a long way to come from 20 seconds back. But it was a good gamble, really great strategy.”

    Hamilton thanked Mercedes’ F1 strategy chief James Vowles over team radio after taking the chequered flag, and explained that the team always planned to keep a set of mediums available in case it opted for a two-stop strategy.

    “The plan all weekend to make sure we had two mediums, to be able to do a two-stop,” Hamilton said.

    “Even though one-stop potentially looks better, I know from experience here that a one-stop is very, very hard to pull off. And as soon as we had the pace that we had, I knew as soon as I could get past him if I could.”

    Hamilton closed to within half a second of Verstappen on lap 42, and looked set to pass on the main straight before being called into the pits for his second stop.

    The seven-time world champion admitted that he was torn over whether to ignore the call so he could overtake Verstappen or not.

    “I was about to get, I think, a shot to get past him before I pitted him right at the end,” Hamilton said.

    “I was really conflicted: do I come in or do I ignore the call and stay out? I did what the team, asked and that’s because there is great trust between us.

    “It was a remarkable job by everyone in this team. What a day!”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen felt like a ‘sitting duck’ against Lewis Hamilton in Spain fight. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Max Verstappen says he felt like a “sitting duck” in the fight against Formula 1 rival Lewis Hamilton in Spain following the Mercedes driver’s second pit stop.

    Verstappen muscled past polesitter Hamilton on the long run down to Turn 1 on the opening lap, and was able to keep the British driver at bay through the opening stint.

    But a decision by Mercedes to run a long first stint and then pit Hamilton for a second time with 24 laps to go put the seven-time world champion on course for victory in Spain.

    Hamilton was able to make up the 22-second gap to Verstappen and overtake for the lead with seven laps remaining, with Red Bull only then bringing its driver in for a second time to go for the fastest lap bonus point.

    Verstappen accepted after the race that there was little he could have done to beat Hamilton following Mercedes’ decision to pit him a second time, knowing how big the tyre delta was.

    “In a way I could see it coming,” Verstappen said.

    “Already at the end of the softs, he was faster, then when we put on the mediums he clearly had a lot more pace, he could just stay within one second.

    “So, there was not much we could have done. They went for another stop and then I knew it was over because I was already struggling with the tyres, and you could see it every lap he was just getting closer and closer.

    “[I was a] bit of a sitting duck.”

    Verstappen was heard during the second stint of the race calling Hamilton’s grip advantage “insane”, having seen a lead of 5.5 seconds get wiped away to less than half a second.

    “When you’re in the lead with the cars in traffic and stuff, you don’t want to pit in traffic, but of course it makes it a lot easier when you just have a clear advantage,” Verstappen said.

    “Of course if we would have jumped for another stop, I’m not sure if we would have caught up again, just really lacking pace. But nevertheless, I tried everything I could.”

    The result continued Mercedes’ remarkable record at the Spanish Grand Prix, the team having won the race in seven of the last eight years.

    But Verstappen did not take much heart from the fact Red Bull had pushed Mercedes so close, saying it proves the team still has a deficit to recover.

    “It shows that we are not yet where we want to be,” Verstappen said.

    “We still have to push hard and and catch up, because at the moment we are a little bit slower.

    “But still, compared to last year I think it has been a big jump for us.”

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