Hamilton cruises to victory in Spain

2018-05-16 06:02

IT was vintage Lewis Hamilton as he obliterated the field to win the Spanish F1 Grand Prix from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen snapped up his first podium of the 2018 season.

But no sooner did the race get underway than it ended in a shower of carbon fibre.

In an attempt to avoid hitting teammate Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean ran wide in turn four. The Frenchman decided to keep his foot on the throttle, which spun him across the circuit in a plume of smoke.

Nico Hulkenberg, and Pierre Gasly were unable to avoid the spinning Haas and sustained significant suspension damage.

The race resumed several laps later with Hamilton well in control from Sebastian Vettel and Bottas in third. Seemingly at will, the race leader was able to build a gap of eight seconds over Vettel and likely had more pace in hand should he have needed it. Ferrari gambled first with an early pitstop for Vettel on lap 18 and fitting the medium compound tyres. Mercedes responded by calling Bottas in a lap later but the Finn remained behind the Ferrari as he exited the pits.

Ferrari was forced to end Kimi Raikkonen’s race early with a suspected engine issue.

Raikkonen had been forced to take a second power unit earlier in the weekend, which will be a worry to Ferrari as all drivers are allotted only three power units for the entire season.

The race continued with Hamilton making his stop on lap 25, which promoted Max Verstappen, yet to stop, into the lead of the race.

Verstappen’s eventual pit stop gave Hamilton back the lead of the race with Vettel roughly 10 seconds adrift. No sooner would the race begin to settle than Esteban Ocon’s Force India came to a halt, prompting the Virtual Safety Car.

Ferrari, not wanting to take a risk on tyre life, called Vettel into the pits.

However, a slow stop saw Vettel rejoin behind Bottas and Verstappen. By now Verstappen had bizarrely run into the back of Williams’ Lance Stroll and lost the end-plate on his front-wing.

However, the damage didn’t prove critical and he stayed out on track. Vettel appeared to have a better pace at times but never got close enough to attempt an overtake on the Dutchman.

On a day where Mercedes’ pace was untouchable Sebastian Vettel finished only fourth after having been forced into a two stop strategy.

Ferrari’s sudden inability to eke out tyre life will raise some contentious questions in the paddock. After all, Pirelli, for the Spanish GP, had altered the tread depth of the tyres due in part to Mercedes issues of blistering in pre-season testing around the circuit de Catalunya.

Despite promising much in Friday running Red Bull never threatened in the race. While Verstappen claimed the final step on the podium Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth.

While Grosjean was given a three-place grid penalty for causing the first lap shunt his Haas teammate, Magnussen came home in a lonely, but solid, sixth.

Local favourites Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso were seventh and eighth while Charles LeClerc and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10.

Mercedes’ one-two today gives them the lead in the constructor’s standings and Hamilton extends his lead in the driver’s standings to 17 points over Vettel, heading to the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo in two weeks’ time.

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