Friday 24 May 2019

Hamilton reigns in Spain to take back top spot

Lewis Hamilton. Photo: Edgar Su/Reuters
Lewis Hamilton. Photo: Edgar Su/Reuters

Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton is back in charge of the world championship after a superb start fired him to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton was handed a rare thrashing by Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, but the British star returned to his best, winning at a canter.

British teenager Lando Norris crashed with Lance Stroll which saw the introduction of a safety car with 20 laps to run.

But Hamilton remained in complete control, taking the chequered flag ahead of Bottas as Mercedes secured their fifth consecutive one-two.

Hamilton, who also scored a bonus point for the fastest lap, now leads Bottas by seven points in the title race.

Ferrari's disappointing campaign continued as confusion reigned over their strategy with both drivers losing out to Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who finished third.

Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in fourth, with team-mate Charles Leclerc fifth. Vettel is now 48 points behind Hamilton after just five rounds.

"It was an interesting start and very, very close," said Hamilton after his third consecutive win in Spain and 76th GP victory in all. "I knew that Valterri would brake super-deep, so it wasn't a replay of what happened in Baku."

Reflecting on the opening moments of the race, Bottas said: "It was pretty tight, but I lost it at the start."

Sandwich

Hamilton, Formula One's fastest-ever man over one lap, will have been irked by the margin of his defeat to Bottas in the shootout for pole position.

But the Englishman made amends off the start line, drawing alongside Bottas within a matter of metres before making the move stick on the 300-metre charge to the opening bend.

Vettel was quick out of the blocks, too, switching to the outside of the Mercedes pair, with Bottas in a Ferrari-Hamilton sandwich.

Vettel went for glory, but locked up in the braking zone and ran off the track. Verstappen then sailed around the outside of the German at the next corner before Hamilton galloped into the distance - and stayed there for the duration of the race.

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