Sports

F1: Hamilton (MBZAMG), Vettel (Ferrari) and Ricciardo (Red Bull) at Barcelona

F1: Hamilton (MBZAMG), Vettel (Ferrari) and Ricciardo (Red Bull) at Barcelona

"It was just the rawest fight I can remember having for some time, which I loved. It was a tough physical battle with Seb and I'm so happy to get the win", he said afterwards. "I just really have to congratulate and thank my team". It was an unbelievable drive from Lewis, great calls by our strategy team, good defensive driving by Valtteri [Bottas], the fastest pit stops of the race and a quick, consistent upgraded vehicle.

Vettel quickly opened a 2+ second gap to Hamilton and it seemed he may have continued to sprint away with victory.

After four races of battling by proxy the two men went wheel to wheel in Spain, with Vettel aggressively defending the lead at one point with a wheel-banging move on the Mercedes driver.

Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen had been involved in a duel into the first corner and, with the extra speed, came across Bottas.

"The start was not good enough, I got a bit of wheelspin". From there, he controlled the race to wrap up a victory and cut Vettel's championship lead to six points. The German pulled out a lead, with Mercedes electing to fit the slower medium compound tyres to Hamilton's vehicle at his first stop. The German emerged from the pits after his final slot alongside Hamilton, the pair almost clashing at Turn One before Vettel pulled ahead.

Bottas was then reduced to playing a supporting role for Hamilton's bid to win on an alternative strategy.

While Vettel used his two sets of faster tires first before finishing on the more long-lasting but slower ones, Hamilton used his more conservative tires after his first pit stop, allowing him to finish on the faster set.

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"A lot of the races that we do with the type of racing that we sometimes have to do, where you're saving fuel, like in the last race for example [in Russia], I couldn't push because the vehicle was overheating".

"At the same point you have respect if other people do a good job and he drove a good race to come back at the end and pass us on the track so I have nothing to moan about".

Vettel remained ahead after the first round of pit stops but Mercedes' decision to pit Hamilton a second time under the Virtual Safety Car on lap 37 proved decisive.

"We lost four seconds", the Ferrari driver said. "I was surprised he was so close coming out of the pit lane, I did everything I could to stay in front, but he just flew past down the straight".

Force India's Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were fourth and fifth, while Renault's Nico Huelkenberg, Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat and Haas' Romain Grosjean rounded out the top 10.

Bottas' slight nudge of Raikkonen caused a chain-reaction, sending Raikkonen into Verstappen. That will also be the Indy 500 weekend where Mr. Alonso will be competing for McLaren-Honda-Andretti.


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