After seeming vulnerable for the past couple of races, Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish GP and his second race in succession, beating his team mate Bottas by over 20 seconds. Sebastian Vettel trailed home in fourth place, never seriously in the hunt for the lead.
As Hamilton sprinted into the lead from pole and Vettel got the jump on Bottas, Romain Grosjean span first off and then back onto the track at turn three, causing chaos and taking himself and two other cars straight out of the race and causing the safety car to come out. After the restart, Hamilton sprinted away from second-placed Vettel, gaining a 1.4-second lead by the end of the first racing lap and continued to extend his lead, Vettel having no answer.
Vettel stopped for an early tyre change on lap 17 in an attempt to pre-empt an attack from Bottas following behind. The Finn was on course to jump Vettel when he stopped after two very fast laps, only for a problem with a rear wheel to delay him in the pits and rejoin behind Vettel. However, tyre wear forced Ferrari to bring Vettel in again, pushing him down to a fourth place from which he was unable to catch and pass Max Verstappen in third. Vettel said: “We couldn’t make the tyres last. For us, it was clear it was the right thing to do. If you look from the outside, it is easy but inside the car we were going through the tyres too quick so we were not able to stay out for another 23 laps. Even in the end, I was not able to attack to the end.”
Max Verstappen finished in third place, easily fending off Vettel in fourth despite having damaged his front wing when he ran into the back of Lance Stroll’s Williams at the restart after a mid-race virtual safety-car period. The ever-unlucky Kimi Raikkonen retired from second place with an engine failure on lap 24.
Behind Vettel and Ricciardo in fifth, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was way behind the top five, but well clear of the rest, led by Carlos Sainz’s Renault and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who recovered well after being delayed by the first-lap incident. Alonso pulled off what was the overtaking move of the race, passing Esteban Ocon’s Force India around the outside of the fast Turn Three at the restart after the early safety car.
Hamilton’s win moves him into a 17-point championship lead. After the race, Hamilton said: “The car and myself, I felt that synergy that I hadn’t been feeling all year. This is when we are going to start trying to apply the pressure. A one-two for the team. Strength in depth.”
You’d have to say though that the racing we’ve seen this year has generally had less of an effect than the tyres, pit stops and effects of safety cars, which is pretty sad. Something has to be done to lessen the effect of artificial aids, artificial stops and other things that detract from what we all want to see; racing.