Hamilton wins in Spain with Vettel second

Hazel Gray
May 16, 2017

British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton described the competition from German Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in the Spanish Grand Prix as the toughest he could recall.

The Mercedes driver triumphed in the Spanish Grand Prix after a thrilling contest with Vettel which included wheel banging, overtaking and the influence of strategy calls.

"The team did an incredible job today, that's how racing should be, as close as it could be, Sebastian was incredibly close, incredibly fast", Hamilton said.

"This is what the sport is meant to be, this is why I race - to have battles with him for the championship", Hamilton said. The vehicle is good, the team is in great form and we know that we need to improve.

The series leader and four-time champion German was still smiling, but clearly frustrated, after the race despite praise being poured on him for a classic passing move on Finn Bottas during the race.

Daniel Ricciardo brought his Red Bull across in a distant third place to complete the podium, his best result of the season.

Had Vettel not decided not to switch off his engine when instructed to do so by his engineers at the start of the qualifying session, or had he not waited sufficiently to follow that instruction so that he went past the first turn-out he could have take to place his vehicle in a protective position by the side of the track, he might not then have detected that his engine was actually okay.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen retired on the first lap after a collision at the first corner as they went three-abreast with Bottas.

Starting from fourth and fifth, Raikkonen and Verstappen came together when trying to squeeze around the first turn with Bottas alongside them.

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Hamilton then produced a great move to pass Vettel at the start of lap 44, powering past him on the outside of the straight, leaving his rival feeling helpless to resist. Vettel eventually got by, but by then Hamilton had clawed back a few valuable seconds.

Hamilton will now head to the next round in Monaco just six points shy of the man he is bidding to join on four world titles following a dramatic race in which the championship protagonists diced on track for the first time this season.

The Mercedes driver came out on top after a race-long battle with Vettel, which included a flashpoint when they made slight contact at Turn 1 after Vettel emerged from the pits on the inside of Hamilton.

Here luck came into play: a clumsy crash by rookie Stoffel Vandoorne triggered a virtual safety vehicle, enabling Hamilton to make his final pit stop while losing minimal time.

"I could sense he was angry, he said he was angry", said Hamilton.

The VSC was in play for two laps and Mercedes waited until it was just about to end to pit Hamilton for a set of soft tyres.

Vettel had kept his lead, but Hamilton waited for a straightaway to blow past him on his faster tires and never looked back.

Vettel added: "He came out of the pits and I was a bit surprised that it was so close". "I was doing what I could to stay in front, but as soon as I was alone he just flew past".

"I think our tyre choice was the right one, obviously Lewis sits behind, he has nothing to lose, there's no threat from behind so he might as well try to mirror the strategy from the first stop onwards".

Other reports by VgToday

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