Lewis Hamilton confirmed his return to top form with an impressively dominant victory in the Spanish GP to increase his championship lead in a Mercedes one-two, as Ferrari’s hopes unravelled.
Hamilton opened up a 17-point advantage over Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes reclaimed lead of the Constructors’ Championship after an unexpectedly one-sided Barcelona race in which the reigning champion relentlessly pulled away from his chief title at the start and then expertly controlled the race.
“This is more like it, let’s keep this up,” said a delighted Hamilton as he became F1 2018’s first back-to-back race victor after coming home 20 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Vettel, having jumped Bottas off the line, was running second as late as lap 41 of 66 but dropped to fourth when a second stop for fresh tyres behind a Virtual Safety Car backfired.
A slow five-second service from the Ferrari crew dropped the German behind not only the second Mercedes, but the lead Red Bull too. But Vettel defended the strategy call by saying it was “not an option for us to stay out” due to excessive tyre wear.
With the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen already sidelined by its second technical problem of the weekend, Max Verstappen profited from Vettel’s botched stop to claim his first podium of 2018.
The Dutchman then held on to third ahead of Vettel despite driving the final 20 laps with a damaged front wing after a bizarre incident when he clipped the back of Lance Stroll’s lapped Williams under the VSC.
Daniel Ricciardo was a low-key fifth despite setting a succession of track lap records late on, while Kevin Magnussen capped a fine weekend for Haas to deliver the team their best result since Bahrain in sixth.
Carlos Sainz was the lead Spaniard in seventh for Renault, with Fernando Alonso finishing where he qualified in eighth after losing ground on the opening lap avoiding a big incident triggered by a spinning Romain Grosjean which also wiped out Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly.
Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly all crash out after colliding on the first lap of the Spanish GP.
Sergio Perez claimed two points for Force India, finishing ahead of Charles Leclerc who hung on to the final point after again showcasing his burgeoning talent for Sauber.
More to follow…
Spanish GP Race Result Driver Team Time 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35:29.972 2. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +20.593 3. Max Verstappen Red Bull +26.873 4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +27.584 5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +50.058 6. Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap 7. Carlos Sainz Renault +1 lap 8. Fernando Alonso McLaren +1 lap 9. Sergio Perez Force India +2 laps 10. Charles Leclerc Sauber +2 laps 11. Lance Stroll Williams +2 laps 12. Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso +2 laps 13. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2 laps 14. Sergey Sirotkin Williams +3 laps Did Not Finish Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Esteban Ocon Force India Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Romain Grosjean Haas Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Nico Hulkenberg Renault
See the final word on all the Spanish GP action and latest F1 talking points on the next edition of the F1 Report – make a date with Sky Sports F1 on Wednesday at 8.30pm Get Sky Sports F1.