Hamilton holds on for victory at Spanish GP, in close battle with Vettel


Spanish Grand Prix 2017 - Podium. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Lewis Hamilton took victory in a hard fought race, and a battle of the strategies, in which Mercedes finally came out on top.

Having lost the lead to Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel off the line, when the Brit initially got off well but then bogged down in the second phase of his launch, Hamilton had it all to do if he was going to claim his second win of the season.

However, a well thought out strategy, and just a little help from team-mate Valtteri Bottas, saw Hamilton take the lead shortly after the second round of pit stops, with Vettel opting to switch to the soft compound tyre, whilst the Brit bolted on the mediums.

In the end, the Mercedes driver took the chequered flag 3.4 seconds ahead of the German, with the RB13 of Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo, completing the third step of the podium.

An engine failure for Bottas saw him retire from the race with a third of the race distance gone, putting a sure-fire third place well and truly out of the picture. The Finn had struggled for pace throughout the race compared to the leaders however, in stark contrast to his sublime performance in Russia.

The start was a chaotic one further down the order, with Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Bottas all trying to make it through the first corner together.

There was only ever going to be one outcome from that manoeuvre, and Bottas, with nowhere to go, touched the right rear tyre of fellow compatriot Raikkonen, which was enough to send the 2007 world champion into the side of Verstappen, taking both men onto the gravel.

That incident led to the retirement of both Raikkonen and Verstappen, whose suspensions did not survive the impact.

Vettel meanwhile was able to eke out a lead up front, before making his first pit stop for another set of the soft tyres, at the end of lap 14. The front left tyre did not want to play ball however, delaying the German briefly as the mechanics struggled to get the tyre on.

Mercedes were not going to have their hand forced by Ferrari however, and Hamilton stayed out, immediately posting the fastest lap of the race and elongating his stint.

A helping hand from then race leader Bottas, who had not yet pitted, keeping Vettel at bay for a couple of laps and frustrating the German no end, allowed Hamilton to re-join right behind the Ferrari driver and his team-mate, after pitting to take on the medium tyre.

Vettel remained just ahead of the Brit until the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed following a coming together between McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne and Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa, seeing the Belgian end up in the gravel at Turn 1. Hamilton saw his chance to shake things up and pitted for a set of the soft tyres and his final stint of the race, as the VSC period ended.

The stop put the Brit twenty-four seconds behind Vettel when he returned to track, but Ferrari decided to cover Mercedes off by pitting Vettel on the next lap. Some quick times from Hamilton during that stop, saw the German re-join side-by-side with the Brit, his previous lead wiped out.

Hamilton tried to go around the outside but Vettel was unwilling to give way and squeezed him out as they touched, forcing the Brit to take to the run-off area.

On the softer tyre compound than his rival however, Hamilton was easily able to catch and pass Vettel just five laps later, using DRS on the main straight.

From there on in it was pretty much plain sailing for Hamilton who was able to control the gap to Vettel for the remainder of the race and take his second win in Spain, crossing the line ahead of the German and Ricciardo.

It was a strong race for the Sahara Force India F1 Team who brought their drivers, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, home in fourth and fifth place respectively, to record their best result of the year.

Former Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg came home in sixth, to secure his best result yet for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, whilst Sauber F1 Team driver Pascal Wehrlein crossed the line in seventh.

The Mercedes backed youngster was dropped down the order to eighth following the race however, after receiving a five-second time penalty, for failing to stay to the right of the pit-entry bollard. It was a sensational drive by the German nonetheless, who lucked out somewhat on strategy with the virtual safety car period, but still brought the C36 home to a career best finish.

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr finished seventh at his home race, after a scary moment with Kevin Magnussen, as they exited their pit boxes and banged wheels trying to beat each other back onto track.

Magnussen had further back luck after picking up a puncture through contact with the Spaniards team-mate Daniil Kvyat, forcing him to pit at the end of the penultimate lap, and taking him out of a points paying position.

Kvyat took that ninth place instead, with Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean completing the top ten, ahead of Marcus Ericsson and Fernando Alonso, who saw the chequered flag for the first time this season.

Massa was thirteenth for Williams, with Magnussen eventually coming home in fourteenth, ahead of Jolyon Palmer and Lance Stroll.

FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA PIRELLI 2017 – RACE RESULT

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIMELAPS
144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1:35.56.49765
25Sebastian VettelGERFerrari+ 3.490s65
33Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Tag Heuer+ 75.820s65
411Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes+ 1 lap65
531Esteban OconFRAForce India-Mercedes+ 1 lap65
655Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault+ 1 lap65
727Nico HulknebergGERRenault+ 1 lap65
894Pascal WehrleinGERSauber-Ferrari+ 1 lap65
926Daniil KvyatRUSToro Rosso-Renault+ 1 lap65
108Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas-Ferrari+ 1 lap65
119Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari+ 1 lap64
1214Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda+ 1 lap64
1319Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes+ 1 lap64
1420Kevin MagnussenDENHaas-Ferrari+ 1 lap64
1530Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault+ 1 lap64
1618Lance StrollCANWilliams-Mercedes+ 1 lap64
1777Valtteri BottasFINMercedesDNF38
182Stoffel VandoorneBELMcLaren-HondaDNF32
1933Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull-Tag HeuerDNF1
207Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrariDNF0