Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has taken his second victory in a row after Bahrain & Portugal, and third of the season, at the Spanish GP this Sunday. The German squad’s two-stop strategy topped that of Red Bull, with Max Verstappen, who only stopped once, pushed back to second place. In third came the other W12 of Valtteri Bottas.
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) came close to the podium positions in fourth, his starting place. Checo Pérez (Red Bull Racing) had a notable run to finish fifth from his starting eighth position. However, the Mexican can not help his fellow to fight vs Mercedes.
With this victory, his fifth in a row at the Circuit of Montmeló from 2017, the Briton has increased his advantage in the World Championship standings to 14 points ahead Verstappen, as Mercedes seems to have finally crushed Red Bull’s insurrection.
Contrary to Mercedes’, this was not one of the finest days for the Milton Kynes team, which is gradually losing ground against its title rivals, a trend that more and more resembles that of previous seasons.
Max takes Hamilton at the start
Max Verstappen got the holeshot from the dirty area of the track as lights went off, to overtake Hamilton. A great move ahead of the first corner, with the two World Championship leaders, in a wheel-to-wheel showdown. The Dutchman immediately opened a 1.786-second gap but by lap six this had shrunk to 1.4 seconds.
Leclerc overtook Bottas, who till then had been shielding the Briton from the rest of the rivals, to get in third place. Ricciardo and Pérez also performed a great start, climbing to fifth and sixth positions, respectively after passing Ocon, who was now seventh.
Tsunoda triggers a safety car
On the seventh lap, Yuki Tsunoda’s Alpha Tauri engine gave up triggering a safety car. The race resumed three laps later, on lap 10. Max took Lewis by surprise accelerating on the corner before the finish line, taking a few extra meters advantage which translated into almost a second.
One third into the Spanish GP and the positions remained unchanged: Verstappen at the lead, followed by both the Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas.
Verstappen´s early stop, great mistake
Just after the first third of the race, Max made an early stop, which was crucial in his losing first place. With only 24 of the 66 scheduled laps covered, the Dutchman wanted to protect himself from being undercut by Hamilton.
The Briton, on the other hand, stayed on the track and, aware of being at a key moment in the race, he went on to setting fast laps to try and reach the lead.
Five laps later (on lap 29th), and the seven-time champion finally made his stop, re-joining the track in second, six seconds behind Bottas. By this point, some drivers, including Max, would try and make do with just one stop, while others decided on two.
By the halfway point, Hamilton brought out his famous iron fist to shorten his distance with Verstappen by three seconds. The Briton embarked on a ruthless persecution of his Dutch prey.
The pit stop that took Hamilton to victory
On lap 43, Hamilton made a second pit-stop, which would change the course of the race. He returned to the action 21 seconds behind Max and with 23 laps to go.
The task ahead seemed ‘simple’: to cut one second per lap. And so he did. At six laps from the checkered flag, on lap 60, Lewis devoured Max at the end of the main straight.
Aware that he had lost the race, Max changed tires to save a point on the fastest lap. Meanwhile, Bottas fulfilled his secondary role in Mercedes to close the places of honour.
Images of Spanish GP: Mercedes AMG.