Hamilton holds off Vettel to win Spanish GP
Vettel still has the point lead, but Hamilton has closed the gap to just 6 with his 55th F1 win.
Although Ferrari held the early advantage at the Barcelona circuit after Sebastian Vettel got the jump on Lewis Hamilton into the first corner, the Scuderia lost it through strategy.
While Vettel pitted early, swapping his softs for another set of softs, Mercedes ran Hamilton longer and swapped his for medium tires.
Assisted by his team-mate holding up Vettel as well as a quick decision to pit for a second time behind the Virtual Safety Car, Hamilton closed right up on Vettel who was then hampered in the final stint by having to run the mediums to Hamilton’s softs.
The Brit raced to the victory by 3.4s ahead of the Ferrari driver.
Asked who had the faster car around the Spanish circuit, Ferrari team boss Arrivabene admitted it was down to tires.
“It depends on the tires,” he said. “When you are on the soft, you have a certain time lap and on the medium another.
“For sure Sebastian wasted a bit of time following Bottas and then Virtual Safety Car.
“But races are like this and we have to accept it.
“Next time we will try to do better.”
Daniel Riccardo finished third for Red Bull to grab the final podium position.
Force India's Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top-5.
The race started off with a bang when Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen touched at the start in turn 1 which eliminated both Raikkonen and Verstappen. The stewards deemed it a racing accident no no penalties were assessed.
Lewis Hamilton (1st): "It's been a really good weekend and a great way to bounce back from Russia. It was the rawest fight that I can remember having in a long-time. I loved it, this is why I race. This is what made me get into racing in the first place. This is what the sport needs to be like every single weekend. To have a close battle like that with a four-time champion is awesome. I lost out on the start and had to watch Sebastian fly by. He was so fast out in front and it was such a push to keep in touch with him and not let him pull away. I was able to manage my tires in the first stint and keep relatively close, then it was tricky to keep up on the Medium tire and then after the second stop. We came out so close together which was super tight into Turn 1. He didn't give me much space, it was close! I thought Seb would get me at the end of the final stint but I was able to do it. I have to congratulate my team today, with the strategy and the pit stops, as well as everyone back at the factory that has worked so hard to deliver these upgrades, enabling us to be so close in this fight with Ferrari."
Valtteri Bottas (DNF, Engine): "It's been a tough weekend. We had problems straight from practice, when we had to swap to the old engine on Saturday morning. Then today we had an engine failure in the race. We don't know any more than that at this stage. We knew it was a risk switching back to the old Power Unit in terms of the mileage but we didn't if we wanted to qualify yesterday. At least we got more points than Ferrari today in spite of the retirement. The first corner was very tight. I had a good start but there was no were to go. I tried to avoid the collision but I touched Kimi. Lewis was on a different strategy while I was running long. We tried to execute a one-stop which is why I was lapping slower at that point. It could have been a rewarding strategy but with the Virtual Safety Car the guys in front had a free pit stop. We should have both been on the podium today. It's always disappointing when you don't finish but we'll pick ourselves up and move on."
James Allison, Technical Director: "Grands Prix like that are why we go motor racing. Winning is always lovely. But when you win a proper 12 round heavyweight fight in this kind of style, and along the way answer all sorts of questions about tire degradation, following other teams and the car's handling - and then see a driver at the peak of his craft like Lewis was today - there's nothing better than that. It was a body blow not to get our second car home and we will be looking carefully at what happened to Valtteri. But the sweetness of winning is some compensation for the bitterness of that retirement."
Toto Wolff: "That was an epic Grand Prix. Racing simply doesn't go more wheel to wheel - and we were treated to some fantastic racing for the win. Today's win was one for the whole team: an amazing drive from Lewis, great calls by our strategy team, good defensive driving by Valtteri, the fastest pit stops of the race and a quick, consistent upgraded car. Everything clicked and came together for us. It wasn't an easy race after we lost position at the start: we were on the back foot, so when Vettel covered the early undercut, we sent Lewis long and took the medium tire - to give us options at the end with another set of softs. Then we made perfect use of the VSC and took a risk to run nearly half the race on a set of softs: we thought it would work out but it was always going to be tight. After that, it came down to some brilliant driving and then managing the tires and engine just right to the final lap. But it was not a perfect day: we lost one car with a technical failure and Valtteri struggled with a damaged car after the contact at Turn One. In spite of that, he drove well and the one-stop approach could have worked out for him until the VSC happened. But it was a day when only one Ferrari finished, so in spite of the retirement, we built up our championship lead. But this was Lewis' day with a supreme drive. People have been asking me if Lewis is now back. The truth is he has never been away - and today's showed it."
Red Bull-Tag Heuer
Daniel Ricciardo (3rd): "I'm happy to be back on the podium today, it's the first one of the season for me which is nice but actually the race was quite a lonely one. I didn't have any real battles and my race was more about trying to keep a rhythm and maintain concentration. I got a bit fortunate with Valtteri's problem towards the end of the race which bumped me up to third, but of course I'm still happy to be up there again and see all the smiles from the team. Today we will enjoy the podium but tomorrow we need to understand how to further close the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes. I want to take the positives from this weekend, we will keep working hard and chipping away. I don't think it's impossible to catch the leaders at some point, maybe it will take a little longer than we had hoped but we will get there. I think I got the maximum out of the car today and moving on to Monaco we will have a few more updates, which will hopefully give us another step, and at that track it's fair to say anything can happen."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Daniel drove a good race today, quite a lonely race for him and unfortunately we didn't have the pace to go with the leaders but we obviously benefitted from Bottas' retirement for him to record his first podium of the year which was great to see. Max made a good start and after committing to the outside of turn one he was the unfortunate victim of Valtteri hitting Kimi who in turn went into him and broke his front suspension causing his retirement, a great shame for him. Looking at the weekend as a whole, we've definitely put some performance on the car, as we have done after every race this season but we are well aware we've still got a lot to do. Now we look ahead to the most prestigious race on the calendar in Monaco and hope we can continue the performance trend and put in a positive show there."
Sebastian Vettel (2nd): "My start was good, I saw Lewis struggle with wheelspin, and kept looking in mirror to see if anybody else had a better start. The first stint went ok, then we had to pit, otherwise they might have got us with an undercut. My second stint was also pretty good: I managed to get close to Valtteri who was all over the place with his tires. He blocked me, in the end I managed to get past, but by then I had lost an awful lot of time. Then in the last stint we did everything we could, the car was good, it was close with Lewis. I am happy when we have the chance to race the Mercedes cars, we can be very happy but not entirely happy today. The most important thing, though, is that we were in the fight; the team is in great form, we need to improve because we want to be ahead of them."
Kimi Raikkonen (DNF, Damage): "I made a good start, but on the main straight I got blocked once by Bottas. I chose to lift and go a little bit on the left to leave him space, but, I don't know how, he hit me on the right rear corner, my car jumped and I end up going into Verstappen. There was nothing me or Max could have done, when you get hit from behind in that way there's no way to avoid the collision. I'm pretty sure Valtteri had enough space. Unfortunately my race ended there. Obviously it's very disappointing, we had been running quite well all weekend and I was happy with the behavior of the car."
Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal: "Shame for the end result, but we leave Spain knowing that we can count on a car that is solid and very quick. Seb's race was very good from the start, and he was able to lead for many laps. In the last stint, despite being on Medium tires, he held off Hamilton until he had to give way to his main rival, who could take the best of DRS and Soft compound. More time was lost behind Bottas and also because of the Virtual Safety Car, which ended just when we had to pit to cover Hamilton's move. Kimi's race did not last long, as he was rammed at the first corner. That's racing, and we must keep our concentration and humility, as we are aware that there is still a lot of work to do and so much to improve. The championship is still a long way and we are already focusing on the next race at Monaco."
Esteban Ocon (5th): "I'm really happy today. Fifth place is a great result for me and, together with Checo in fourth, a fantastic day for the team. It's a great ending to a weekend where we worked incredibly hard and it's a nice reward for everybody in the team. The car was fast in qualifying and we were on the pace straight away yesterday. We kept pushing and we showed good speed in the race as well. Sure, there were some circumstances this afternoon that helped us, but you need to be ready to take the opportunities when they come your way. Once we had made it through the first lap chaos, we had the pace to easily keep ahead of all the cars behind and we could manage our race. I feel we maximized what we could get out of today: the team are doing everything right at the moment and that's what makes us so strong. There's still a lot we can achieve this year: we are always there when it counts and the car is consistently fast. Scoring points every time we go out is what really matters for the championship so we need to keep up this consistency."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "A fantastic result for everybody at Sahara Force India. The 22 points scored strengthen our hold on fourth place in the championship and continue our 100% points-scoring record in every race this season. We are now the only team to have achieved this and that's a huge credit to the hard work of the race team and factory. It was a fairly routine race from our perspective with mature drives from Sergio and Esteban. They kept their noses clean and managed their pace to bring home our best result of the year so far. This consistency is a real strength of the team and we can feel very satisfied with our performance over the first quarter of the season."
Felipe Massa (13th): "I'm so disappointed. I had a fantastic start, passing Perez and Alonso on the straight, and then I got to turn one and saw the incident ahead. I then got to turn two and Alonso was suddenly on the outside of the corner, we touched and I picked up a puncture, which ruined my race. We had a big opportunity to finish fourth today, which I think I could have done because we had good pace. It's really painful because we lost so many points today as a team."
Lance Stroll (16th): "It was not a great race. I have had better ones and I just found it frustrating. The start was good as were the first couple of stints on the soft tires and I had a good pace at the beginning, but we just struggled on the mediums and started to lose grip. I didn't feel great in the car and couldn't get it feeling the way I wanted. It was just one of those races, but I am sure it will be better next time. At every race I get more and more confident, but this weekend was just a tough one."
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: "It was tough day, particularly with the various incidents at the front, making it a bad day to not be up there in the points. Felipe had a fantastic start and gained several places, but unfortunately he came into contact with Fernando, which caused a front-right puncture. That ruined his race. His pace in clean air was very strong: He was matching Daniel lap-for-lap on his first stint. I think we had the potential to have a very good result. For Lance, he finished the race without incident and he was able to learn more about tire management and race craft. We hope he can continue to progress in Monaco."
Fernando Alonso (12th): "The race didn't go as we'd planned. We were a little bit unlucky with the contact in Turn Two with Felipe [Massa] and then we were behind Daniil [Kvyat] for too many laps in the mid part of the race, but even without that I think we didn't have the race pace to be in the points today to be honest. I'm a little disappointed, but at least we finished the race, and hopefully this is the first sign of a step forward in reliability. We now need to prepare better the next Grand Prix. Tomorrow at 9.00am I need to be at the Brickyard, and at 12.00pm noon I'll be in the car for first practice. So I now have 14 hours to rest, nine of which will be spent on the plane, so we need to switch into Indy mode now, and for the next two weeks my full focus will be on that."
Stoffel Vandoorne (DNF, Damage): "I haven't seen the [Massa] incident properly on TV yet. I wasn't really expecting Felipe [Massa] to be there - I think I left enough space for him to be able to pass - but unfortunately we made contact and my front wheel broke, so that was the end of the race for me. I don't want to blame anyone, and in my personal opinion it was just a racing incident. The maneuver on Jolyon [Palmer] was my first overtake this season, so at least I got something out of the race. The fact that that move felt so good shows that our package still isn't strong enough, and we're still not in a position to fight with the others. But we've taken a step forward for this race with the upgrades we brought here, and some areas are definitely improving, but in the race we're still struggling a bit. Hopefully we can carry some more improvements into the next race. I don't want to make any predictions for Monaco, but the chassis has been improving, and hopefully we'll bring a couple more updates that will pay off. We'll have to wait and see, and try our best; that's all we can do at the moment."
Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "After our encouraging qualifying pace yesterday, it goes without saying that we're very disappointed today. Through no fault of his own, Fernando got involved in Felipe's [Massa] lap-one 'off', and immediately dropped half a dozen places as a result. He pushed as hard as he could thereafter, but the gap proved unbridgeable and he ended up driving a lonely race to 12th place. After being awarded a 10-place grid penalty as a result of the team's decision to replace some elements of his car's power unit this morning, Stoffel was forced to start the race from 20th and last place. From there he drove the first third of the race very hard and very well, working his way up to P16 by lap 20, the highlight being a strong passing maneuver on Jolyon's [Palmer] Renault. Unfortunately, his good progress came to a halt on lap 33, when contact with Felipe's Williams damaged his suspension and rendered his car undriveable. So, results-wise, today is a day for us to forget, but there are positives to be taken from the weekend nonetheless, not least our solid qualifying pace. It's clear that the MCL32 is a chassis that our drivers can really lean on - and that quality augurs well for Monaco, on whose sinuous streets we'll do battle with our rivals once again in two weeks' time."
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda: "After yesterday's good qualifying with a great performance by Fernando at his home grand prix, today's result turned out to be disappointing for all of us in the team. Fernando was running well despite having an unfortunate incident on the first lap and finding himself back down the grid. He never gave up and showed encouraging pace while chasing the cars in front. I'm disappointed as I think today his pace was good and we were competitive enough to get some points. It was a tough race for Stoffel. He had to start from the last row and then retired in the middle of the race. I think he's having a challenging time at the moment but we'll overcome the situation together with him. Next up is Monaco, and it will be a big opportunity for us. It's a very technical circuit and a real drivers' track, so here's hoping Stoffel and Jenson will run well there."
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault
Carlos Sainz (8th): "What a good race, I'm very happy! It was a bit chaotic at the start - we managed to gain a couple of positions but I then ran wide into Turn 2 in order to avoid the accident... I therefore lost some of the positions I had gained, but we were P9 and from that point onwards it was a full-on attack race to try and recover. We managed to do just that and finished P7 after starting P12, a great result! I really enjoyed it out there today because we were always faster than the car in front and never looking in the mirrors. It was also amazing to have such big support from the fans - I was feeling it! I was pushing the whole time, going for the cars I had in front, trying different ways of attacking both on track and in the pit-lane and we managed to do a very complete race weekend. During my in-lap at the end of the race I looked up to my grandstand and it was amazing to see them all so pumped up and cheering me on - I'd like to thank everyone for this amazing support. Talking about thank-yous, I need to make a special mention and congratulate all the pit-stop guys - they've improved the pit-stops so much this year and this was a key part of the race today. I now have a surprise for them in the garage in order to thank them in a proper way: let's enjoy some good Spanish ham and beers together! Well-deserved by everyone!"
Daniil Kvyat (9th): "It feels great to finish in the points today, I'm proud of myself and my engineers! We didn't give up after a difficult day yesterday and followed a great strategy to go from last to P9! Of course we need to analyze and find out what happened yesterday, because we can't afford qualifying sessions like this to happen anymore, but today's race was fun. I was able to overtake many cars at a circuit where normally it's not easy to do so and enjoyed every lap of the race a lot, so I'm very happy. These points are very welcome after a tough weekend! Thanks everybody!"
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "A good race for us today: to finish P7 with Carlos and P9 with Daniil is a great result for us. Both the drivers and the team performed really well after a disappointing qualifying session yesterday but it's positive to see that no one gave up on the challenge and at the end, what counts is the race! It seems that all the upgrades that we brought here to Barcelona this weekend worked well. Especially in the race, we saw some good overtakes and we are now back to fifth position in the Constructors' Championship, which is always our target for the season. Regarding the strategy, we made very good decisions and both drivers did a great job. I always said that this race could be a good one for us, where we needed to score as many points as possible, as this track suits the set-up of our car and it's pleasing to see that we could actually do so. I believe the same is true for the next race in Monaco, so let's approach it in the same way and get ready for it now."
Romain Grosjean (10th): "Well, it's good for the team to score a point, but a shame for Kevin with his puncture to lose P9. I had a good start, then into turns one and two there were a lot of cars spinning. I had to go on the astroturf to avoid them. If that hadn't been the case, I'd have been next to (Nico) Hulkenberg or in front of him and the race would've been different. The pace was there on the softs, but I was always into traffic. On mediums - I really struggled to get those tires to work. There's a lot of work we can do. I was happier with the car today than yesterday, but still we have to work hard to get a good run home."
Kevin Magnussen (14th): "It's annoying. We could've had the points with both cars, so it's pretty disappointing. There was some contact there with Kvyat. I would've been fine, but I got a puncture from the contact. I gave it everything I had today. If we had finished in the points, that would've been a good result for us. I'm very disappointed not to do that."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "A disappointing end following a good start to the race. We were in good positions, the car was going well on the soft tires, and then the Virtual Safety Car came out. We lost all our momentum. It just came out at the wrong time. We went too early onto the medium tires, not as planned. The medium tire - we just couldn't get it to work. The guys lost a few positions and then Kevin had a puncture. The only good thing coming out of here is that we got a point. We should have more, but that's racing."
Nico Hulkenberg (6th): "P6 is a great result for us and very rewarding too. It's been our lucky day with some of the top cars out at the start, but also later on in the race too, so we clearly benefited from that. At the same time, we were there at every opportunity to do a good job and the guys did a great second pit stop to enable us to pass the Sauber. I feel very comfortable in the car but we still have work ahead of us to catch up our closest competitors."
Jolyon Palmer (15th): "We went for an aggressive strategy today given my starting position on the grid. I think it's fair to say it didn't bring us the reward we wanted. I wasn't able to get the pace out of the car when it was needed, however we were going better on the final set of tires. My job now is to sit down with my engineers and analyze the race whilst we also have a good look at the car too. I'm determined that we will do better in Monaco."
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director: "A fantastic race result after a difficult qualifying session yesterday. It goes to show, you should never let your head go down and you should always maximize every opportunity. Nico took advantage of a great start, the pit crew delivered exactly what was required during the race and also a bit of luck fell our way. We showed good execution of strategy and pit stops and our race pace was better than that of our competitors, Haas, Williams and Toro Rosso. It is positive that we continue to improve in these areas, however we still have to work hard to understand how to maximize the performance of the R.S.17; this weekend was rather unusual for us because our race pace was better than our qualifying performance. For Jolyon it was a tough Grand Prix and we are dedicated to understanding what we can do to improve this. We head next to Monaco, a circuit which presents very unique challenges, eager to continue the team's upward trajectory."
Pascal Wehrlein (7th): "It was a very good race for me today. I am really happy that the performance of the car was there, as well as the strategy with only one pit stop perfectly worked to the end of the race. We could not have expected such a result after the practice sessions. It feels very good to finish this race surprisingly in the points. I want to thank the whole team, as everyone has done a great job throughout the whole weekend. Now I hope that the further updates on the car will also move us forward in Monaco and that we can repeat such results."
Marcus Ericsson (11th): "For me personally I felt good in the race, but I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. My pit stop just finished once the virtual safety car phase started, so I lost some time there. It is not going my way at the moment. Nevertheless, huge congratulations to the whole team - to everyone here at the track and also in the factory. Today we have been rewarded for the hard work - it is great for the team that Pascal scored four points. Overall it is nice achievement."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "A great result for our team - with a perfect strategy behind it. Both drivers have put in a good performance. Pascal managed to have an excellent race, whereas Marcus also made the most out of the car. Today's result proves that we are in the right direction and that there is definitely potential in our car. We are curious about what comes next in Monaco when further aero parts will be introduced."
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes - Mercedes 66 laps
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