Lewis Hamilton is just two wins away from a century of grand prix wins, after claiming victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, teammate Valtteri Bottas rounds off the podium.
It was arguably one of the drives of Hamilton’s career in a race reminiscent of Hungary 2019, where the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team thought outside the box to outsmart Red Bull Racing.
Hamilton looked to be faster than Max Verstappen all race, despite the Red Bull driver overtaking the British driver on the first corner of the race. Hamilton though looked threatening very soon after as he managed to follow Verstappen closely and more importantly look after the tyres better.
When Verstappen pitted first, Hamilton decided to stay out longer which by the time Hamilton did pit, it gave Verstappen a greater advantage in front. But again Hamilton was on the Dutch drivers gearbox within a few laps, it was then on lap forty-two that Mercedes decided to gamble.
Mercedes opted for a two-stop strategy with Hamilton, leaving the world champion twenty-two seconds behind Verstappen, who was on much older tyres. In true Lewis Hamilton fashion he hunted Verstappen down by almost two seconds a lap, and then with only a handful of laps remaining he took the lead down the home straight. Verstappen was powerless to the speed of Hamilton.
So after taking his one hundredth pole on Saturday, it is now ninety-eight victories for Hamilton, who edges ever closer to a century of wins. This win will be one that he remembers.
“What a day! It was a remarkable job by the whole team again this weekend and it’s so good to see fans back here. I even saw a few British flags in the crowd and I’ve really missed that! I feel great, like I could do that all over again, all the training is clearly paying off!”
“It was really close off the start, there was a lot of rubber down on the righthand side of the grid and Max got a really good start. I then went hunting and was so close to Max for so long during the opening stages of the race, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make the tyres last in the dirty air.”
“It looked like a long way back after the second stop – it was something like 20 seconds off Max – but it was a really bold call by the team. I was really conflicted, it felt like I might have the shot to make the move before Max stopped, but we just have that trust between us in the team and it was a great call.”
“A shame that we couldn’t finish higher” – Bottas
For Valtteri Bottas it was yet another disappointing race, the Finnish driver lost out to Charles Leclerc on the opening lap and was then stuck behind the Scuderia Ferrari driver for the opening phase of the race.
This saw Bottas fall well behind the leading pair of Verstappen and Hamilton, which resulted in a fairly lonely drive to another third place for the driver. The only controversy for Bottas during the race was failing to let Hamilton past easily whilst the race winner hunted down Verstappen. Apart from that it was a tough day at the office for Bottas, who will be hoping to bounce back at Monaco.
“Losing that position to Charles at Turn 3 on the first lap compromised the first stint of my race. I was hoping for more today but that made it difficult. My overall pace wasn’t too bad – bit of a shame that we couldn’t finish higher, but at least I managed to get on the podium.”
“I’m never happy to settle for third, I’m here to win but it was a good day for the team, scoring more solid points. Monaco is going to be a unique challenge in two weeks’ time and I’m looking forward to it.”