A 55th win for Hamilton as he reduces Vettel’s lead

After a disappointing Grand Prix for Brit Lewis Hamilton in Russia two weeks earlier he bounced back last weekend in Barcelona, claiming his 55th F1 victory as he reduced his points deficit to Ferrari’s German championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

A day earlier Hamilton had claimed pole position from Vettel by a mere 0.05s ahead of Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari), but come the start of the race his advantage was immediately eradicated as Vettel swept past him into the lead at the opening corner. There was chaos to their rear as Bottas tapped Räikkönen, who in turn hit Red Bull’s 2016 Spanish Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen, ending the races of Räikkönen and Verstappen almost as soon as they had started.

Großer Preis von Spanien 2017, Sonntag - Wolfgang Wilhelm

As the race developed Vettel headed Hamilton, Bottas and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and it soon became clear that the flying Seb and Lewis were leaving Valtteri and Daniel in their wake. Vettel was the first of the leaders to make his opening pit stop, attempting to undercut Hamilton. However, after Hamilton had made his initial stop Vettel lost time as the leading Bottas, who was yet to stop, held him up. Eventually Seb squeezed by on lap 26 and Lewis followed him through, six seconds adrift.

The tables were subsequently turned though when a clash between McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Williams driver Felipe Massa caused a virtual safety car period during which Mercedes reacted quickest, bringing Hamilton in for his second pit stop. Vettel then made his second stop and rejoined the track, just fending off the charging Hamilton, but Lewis was on faster softer tyres than Seb and on lap 44 breezed past into the lead at the first corner.

2017 Spanish Grand Prix, Sunday - Steve Etherington

From here to the chequered flag Hamilton was pursued by Vettel, but was never seriously threatened. Following the retirement of Bottas with a power unit failure Ricciardo inherited third place and the final step on the podium, albeit a massive 75 seconds behind the winner at the end of the race. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon had another impressive day for Force India, finishing fourth and fifth, with Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg completing the top six. After qualifying in an impressive seventh position for his home Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso endured another difficult race and his McLaren team is now the only one not to have scored any points so far this year.

Vettel has a six point lead over Hamilton in the Drivers’ championship and Mercedes an eight point advantage over Ferrari in the Constructors’ one as the F1 circus moves on to Monaco, the jewel in Formula 1’s crown, in two weeks’ time for the next thrilling instalment in the best season for many years.

2017 Spanish Grand Prix, Sunday - Steve Etherington

2017 F1 Spanish Grand Prix Results

1  Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1hr35m56.497s

2  Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +3.490s

3  Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull +1m15.820s

4  Sergio Perez (Force India) Lapped

5  Esteban Ocon (Force India) Lapped

6  Nico Hülkenberg (Renault) Lapped

7  Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) Lapped

8  Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) Lapped

9  Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) Lapped

10  Romain Grosjean (Haas) Lapped

11  Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) Lapped

12  Fernando Alonso (McLaren) Lapped

13  Felipe Massa (Williams) Lapped

14  Kevin Magnussen (Haas) Lapped

15  Jolyon Palmer (Renault) Lapped

16  Lance Stroll (Williams) Lapped

17  Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) Retired

18  Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) Retired

19  Max Verstappen (Red Bull) Retired

20  Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) Retired

2017 F1 Drivers’ Championship (after 5 rounds of 20)

1  Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)      104 points

2  Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)   98 points

3  Vatteri Bottas (Mercedes)      63 points

2017 F1 Constructors’ Championship (after 5 rounds of 20)

1  Mercedes      161 points

2  Ferrari           153 points

3  Red Bull         72 points

By Graham Read

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