Hamilton wins to take his first Spanish Grand Prix victory

Hamilton wins his fourth grand prix in a row to take the lead in the driver’s World Championship. After another hard-fought race, the British Formula One driver took the chequered flag first to beat his team-mate for victory at the Circuit de Catalunya.

As the lights went out and the Spanish Grand Prix was under way, Lewis Hamilton romped away to ensure he lead into turn one. But a little further back the story of the start was the Williams of Bottas. As the Finn powered away from his grid slot he was able to storm past Ricciardo and put himself into a position to fight Rosberg for second. Bottas was able to get past the Red Bull of Ricciardo off the line due to the Aussie hitting the rev limiter in the early gears meaning he could not get the power down. Another fast starting rookie was Magnussen in his McLaren. But his fast start came to nothing as with nowhere to go, he was forced into putting his rear right tyres onto the grass and back out from any possible overtake on Kvyat.

As the cars filtered through the first corner, Vettel was left with no space as he became boxed in the midfield, a place the 4-time World Champion has become unfamiliar with. But by the end of the lap he began his charge through the pack, picking off McLaren’s fast starting Finn at turn 13 after the McLaren driver ran wide. Magnussen had tried to go around the outside of his team-mate, Jenson Button but there was not enough track for the both of them on the exit of the corner. After running off the track, Magnussen fell down to 15th place. Luckily getting away with no contact between himself and Vettel after almost having his front wing taken off by the German as he took the final chicane.

Over the first 2 laps Hamilton extended his lead back to Rosberg to 1.6 seconds. But whilst Hamilton was enjoying a fast start, for the Ferrari’s it was a different matter with the two prancing horses all over the place out of the corners. The Ferrari’s were not the only cars loosing time to the Mercedes’ as by the end of lap 4, they were pulling away from the field rapidly. Lapping 1.5 seconds a lap faster than the field.

Meanwhile, an incident between the Lotus of Maldonado & the Caterham of Ericsson was being investigated by race control. Which later resulted in Pastor receiving a 5 second stop/go penalty for causing the incident.

Moving swiftly on to lap 6. By this stage the Mercedes’ had pulled away from 3rd place Bottas. But for Bottas, his 3rd place was coming under threat from Ricciardo who refused to give up getting past the Williams. Eventually, Red Bull called for him to drop back to a 2 second gap, in order to save his tyres from wearing out too early. Ricciardo, however, wanted to stay on the attack for a few more laps at least, and this was seen in a move on lap 7. Ricciardo attempted an overtake on Bottas into turn 1, resulting in the two drivers going side by side into turn 2, but Bottas kept inside line took maintain his 3rd place.

Over at Lotus, Grosjean was running in 5th whilst lapping around 1 second behind Ricciardo. Was this an early sign that Lotus had used the three-week gap to provide their drivers with a competitive car?

Now, as the drivers entered lap 8, we hadn’t seen much overtaking action on the track. But Kvyat, in his Toro Rosso soon changed that after completing a very nice overtake around the outside of Gutierrez as the two went around turn 3, resulting in Kvyat moving up to 11th place.

Unfortunately, after this overtake the race died down again. With the cars parading round the track in formation, no one really making any gains into each other and by lap 12 Hamilton was slowly extending his lead to Rosberg, meaning we would not be seeing any early fights between the two at the front for the lead. Lap 13 saw the first driver to enter the pits as Red Bull opted to put Vettel on fresh rubber and change from the medium compound to the hard compound tyres. After the switch, and starting in 15th place, Vettel saw himself exiting the pits down in 21st position.

After Vettel’s pit, most of the paddock opted to follow suit and pit their drivers. Lap 17 saw Ferrari bring Alonso into the pits. Interesting as they brought the Spaniard in before Raikkonen, despite Raikkonen being in front on track. Luckily for Raikkonen, Alonso was not able to get the undercut on his team-mate as after his pit-stop he spent his out lap stuck in traffic.

Now a few laps on, with no real on-track action happing. Mercedes brought race leader, Hamilton into the pits after Rosberg had began to close the gap. Worse for Hamilton is that he suffered a slow pit stop after his left front tyre was slow to get on. After seeing Hamilton exit the pits in 2nd place, it was only a matter of time before Mercedes opted to bring Rosberg in as well and at the end of lap 21, they did so. Splitting the strategy to Lewis, the teams opted for hard tyres instead of medium’s on Nico’s car.

Now with a split strategy the garage were clearly in two sides. Hamilton’s side informed him that he needed to extend the gap to Rosberg to 7 seconds over the stint. And on the other side, Nico’s camp informed him that he needed to close the gap to 2 seconds over the stint if they were to take the race win. This panned out to not be the deciding factor as the gap remained near the mid-range mark, showing neither driver was getting the advantage.

Thankfully, as this was unfolding we saw some on track action as two former team-mates fought for position. Raikkonen was aiming to get past his former Lotus team-mate, Grosjean into turn 1 after the aid of DRS but Raikkonen went in too deep after getting past. But by going too deep, Grosjean was able to get back past for 5th place.

Now on lap 25, just over one-third of the race distance complete, Vergne was told by the team that he would be retiring from the race after a problem with the exhaust. This retirement meant that he is now tied with Sutil for most retirements this year.

Back to the battle of the former Lotus team-mates, Grosjean was forced into defending the inside of turn 1 as Kimi tried to get past once again, but this time he was able gets past Grosjean and make the overtake stick. And if that wasn’t bad enough for the Frenchman, Alonso and his Ferrari were right up behind Grosjean and he hoped to follow his team-mate past the Lotus. Of which he did, completing the same move that saw Kimi get past Grosjean.

Vettel, after pitting for the 2nd time in the race, was later able to take 9th place from Massa on the inside of turn 5. After switching his tyres he had been storming his way away the track in search of gaining places. Of which this lap saw him do as he later took 7th from Magnussen.

The race continued to be a slow-burner with minimal overtaking from this point but late action came to light with a battle between the two Ferrari’s and a battle between the two Mercedes’. Alonso, in front of his home fans, was in the hunt to overtake Raikkonen for many laps at the end as the two Ferrari drivers, with the same equipment both wanted to leave the Spanish Grand Prix having beat their team-mate. Unfortunately for Raikkonen this would not be him as Fernando was able to get past. Eventually ending the race in 6th place.

Now for the Mercedes’ battle to see who would win the Spanish Grand Prix.

As the remaining laps fell away, Rosberg on the faster tyres was eating away at Hamilton’s advantage. Not helping Lewis was the fact he had traffic to deal with whilst aiming to stay ahead. With the Circuit de Catalunya not having many overtaking spots, Nico knew he would have to make a move down the pit straight with DRS. But unfortunately he would not be able to make a move as Lewis was able to, just like in Bahrain, was able to keep his silver arrow ahead. The two eventually crossing the line with just 0.6 seconds between them and having lapped all but 4 other drivers.

This win sees Lewis take over from Nico at the top of the driver’s championship by 3 points. With Hamilton now on 100 points exactly after his 4 straight wins and a DNF in Australia. Whereas Rosberg now moves on to 97 points after finishing 1st in Australia and 2nd in the four races Hamilton has won.

Moving on to driver of the day, this undoubtedly goes to Sebastian Vettel. For me he deserves driver of the day as he was able to finish 11 places higher than he started, despite at one point going all the way down to 21st place. Not only did he make up them positions, the way in which he made them up gained him driver of the day. He suffered issues in practice and qualifying this weekend, but still he had faith in the car to be able to make late ditch moves down the inside stick in order to get past other drivers. If it wasn’t for Williams keeping Bottas out for too long in the early stages of the race and he was able to finish higher up the grid than his 5th place finish, he may have been in with a shout of driver of the day in my opinion. Below this is a full grid of the finishing positions, split times and points but below that is a pole for who you thought was driver of the day.

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 Winner 1 25
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 66 +0.6 secs 2 18
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 66 +49.0 secs 3 15
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 66 +76.7 secs 15 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 66 +79.2 secs 4 10
6 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 66 +87.7 secs 7 8
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 65 +1 Lap 6 6
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 65 +1 Lap 5 4
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap 11 2
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap 10 1
11 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap 8
12 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap 14
13 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap 9
14 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 65 +1 Lap 12
15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 65 +1 Lap 22
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 65 +1 Lap 13
17 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 65 +1 Lap 16
18 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 64 +2 Laps 18
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 64 +2 Laps 17
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 64 +2 Lap 19
Ret 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 34 +32 Laps 20
Ret 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 24 +42 Laps 21

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