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HAMILTON TAKES THE UPPER HAND IN SPAIN

Lewis Hamilton was true to his promise of an uncompromising start to his race in Spain and claimed his third win of the season in emphatic style. Mercedes continued their domination of the 2019 season with a fifth consecutive one-two finish.

Hamilton made the more aggressive start and led Bottas to the first corner and was never headed to net his third Spanish Grand Prix win in a row.

Hamilton pulled to the right of Bottas, as the long run to the first turn enabled Sebastian Vettel to close and attack to the left of the pole man. The trio headed down to the first corner with none prepared to give, thought it was Hamilton who gained the advantage and took the lead as a stream of tyre smoke came from the right-front Pirelli of Vettel as he locked up heavily.

Bottas was trapped between the two cars and momentarily lost the rear of his Mercedes before he managed to slot back into second, while Vettel slewed wide.  Max Verstappen seized third from Vettel through Turn 3 as team mate Pierre Gasly also ran wide. Hamilton led at the conclusion of lap 1 from Bottas, Verstappen, Vettel, Leclerc, Gasly, while a brief excursion into the gravel at turn 4 relegated to last.

Bottas & Hamilton hoist Dr. Dieter Zetsche as he retires from AMG Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes Media

Leclerc moved into third on lap 12 as Vettel struggled on his flat-spotted tyres, after the German offered to give up the place over team radio. Vettel eventually stopped on lap 20 for the medium tyre, a problem with the left rear tyre saw Vettel return to the track in 10th place.

Hamilton had etched out a 10 second lead by the time the Mercedes pair made their first stop on lap 28. Verstappen made his first of two-stops for soft tyres on Lap 21, while Leclerc went for the harder tyre option on Lap 26, but was held in the pitlane with another rear-left issue for Ferrari.

Ferrari split their drivers’ strategy and on Lap 36, swapped the cars around again, Leclerc let Vettel pass at Turn 4 before the German came in for medium compound tyres five laps later.

The Safety Car made an appearance after an incident between Lando Norris and Lance Stroll that left the McLaren and Racing Point stranded on the circuit. Hamilton and Leclerc chose to stop again, with the incident somewhat of a blessing for the race leader as his right rear appeared to have blistered. Hamilton retained the lead on used softs. Leclerc, now on new mediums, dropped to fifth, behind Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Vettel, Leclerc and Gasly.

The top six remained unchanged during the final six lap sprint while the battle intensified for the final points places. Haas scored their first double points result of the season, while Carlos Sainz also finished his home race inside the top 10. Daniel Kvyat squeezed past Romain Grosjean for 9th in the final laps of the race, while Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finished just outside the points for Renault.

“It’s definitely been a bit of a hard first four races, naturally it’s a great car but we don’t always get along, so I’m grateful that in the race, we managed to settle our differences and get away well. Long, long run down to Turn 1, so I’m grateful for it, and really happy for the whole team,” said Lewis Hamilton.

The Formula 1 circus now heads to Monte Carlo for the most picturesque events, the Monaco Grand Prix 24-26 May.

Photo: Mercedes Media


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