Lewis Hamilton wins the Spanish Grand Prix with a magnificent piece of controlled,
strategic driving and management by his Mercedes team, after he had lost the lead
on the opening lap.
He beat the Red Bull of Max Verstappen into second place at the Circuit de Catalunya,
with Valtteri Bottas third for Mercedes
Not bad considering he doesn’t have the quickest Formula One car.
That belongs to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who leapfrogged Hamilton at the start
but was “a sitting duck” as the brilliant Brit reeled in his advantage to overtake him
seven laps from the end.
It was a pulsating contest as Hamilton and Verstappen made this a two-horse race
after the hapless Valtteri Bottas faded from the third corner.
The Finn almost put the mockers on it when it made it hard for his teammate to
overtake, despite being ordered to move aside.
Hamilton eventually forced his way through with a move that oozed class and
displayed the gulf in talent that exists between the two.
Aside from Hamilton’s talent on track, it was a masterclass from the Mercedes
mathematicians on the pit wall and at their Brackley HQ, who called a decisive pitstop for
Hamilton on lap 44.
When he came out from the pits, he was 22 seconds behind Verstappen with 22 laps
In doing so, Hamilton had fresher tyres yet crucially it meant Red Bull did not have time
to respond and pit Verstappen from the lead, as he would have been overtaken by the
They were hamstrung and Verstappen knew it as Hamilton sliced away at the gap before
making the move, a simple overtake at Turn One at the start of lap 60.
Hamilton thanked Merc’s F1 strategy chief James Vowles over the team radio after taking
the chequered flag before explaining their canny plan to stop twice.
He said: “Red Bull got a great start and after that, I was just hunting and I just managed to
keep the tyres in somehow.
“I was a long way to come back from, 20-odd seconds back, but it was a really great
strategy from the team.
I knew the plan was to do two pit stops. Even though I know one-stop is potentially the
best, I know from experience here that a one-stop is very very hard to pull off.
“As soon as I had the pace, I could get past him. What a remarkable job. What a day.”
Credit to Hamilton for he held it together after losing his lead at the start and there is no
doubt that the fight with Verstappen has forced him to go up a gear.
So much so that 1996 world champion Damon Hill hailed Hamilton as “one of the most
talented people to walk the earth”.
Hamilton added: “It is humbling when you see people you have admired say respectful
things. It is an amazing moment when that happens.
“This is a moment where I have to be at my best weekend in and weekend out.
“Max is driving exceptionally well and so is Valtteri. His qualifying laps are hard to beat
and it is so close between all of us.
“It is going to take a perfect delivery all weekend and while it is not possible to always do
that, the target is to get as close as possible.”
Meanwhile, Verstappen, who now trails Hamilton’s three wins to one in this season’s
opening four races did get a bonus point for setting the fastest lap time.
He said: “Personally I’m not disappointed because I tried everything, but we were
just too slow. “It shows we are not where we want to be. We have to push hard and
catch up, but compared to last year it is a big jump forward.”
Meanwhile, Bottas has defended his failure to allow Hamilton to pass, despite the team
instruction “not to hold him up”.
In an interview that will raise eyebrows, he added: “I could have let him by earlier but
I am doing my own race.
“They told me not to hold him up, but I was also doing my race and I am not here
to let people by.”