Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton takes Spanish Grand Prix

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton takes Spanish Grand Prix

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel could manage only fourth after his team took a second pitstop for the German behind the virtual safety vehicle that lost him track position.

"This is when we are going to start applying some pressure", said Hamilton, who has gained 34 points on Vettel in the last three races.

However, he is now well set for a second consecutive race win, with 20 out of 27 races at the Circuit de Catalunya having been won by the man on pole.

Asked by Autosport just how important the Barcelona pole was to him in light of his recent form, he said: "We've had one pole, we haven't really had great qualifying sessions after that, so it was important for me to get back into a good position with qualifying, as it is usually a strength of mine".

The defending world champion had to wait until the fourth round in Azerbaijan to pick up his first win of the campaign, but an imperious drive in Barcelona made it back-to-back victories for the Briton.

Even though Verstappen suffered vehicle damage after a freakish collision with Lance Stroll in the Williams, Vettel could not challenge and he believes Ferrari, who have had the consistently quicker auto this year, never had the pace in Spain.

It was the first one-two of the season for Mercedes, which had been slower than Ferrari in the past few races. And so you give it everything on an out-lap and you still don't have your tyres in the (performance) window.

That was perhaps no more evident than at the Spanish Grand Prix where Vettel fell from the podium after a qualifying position of third to finish fourth - although Ferrari themselves took the brunt of the blame from fans.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel had taken the previous three poles before Saturday and, while Hamilton regained the championship lead in Azerbaijan two weekends ago, Ferrari are ahead in the constructors' standings.

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Of note, a number of cars retired due to an opening lap pileup, sparked by Haas driver Romain Grosjean drifting wide in Turn 3 and spinning across the track.

All three drivers were unhurt but it was an exceptionally risky incident and why Grosjean kept his foot on the gas as he span, causing smoke that unsighted the following drivers, seems inexplicable.

It was a fairly straightforward win for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.

It was the second dubious pit call by Ferrari, who called Vettel early for his first pit stop on lap 17 in an attempt to pre-empt an attack from Bottas.

He then spent the rest of the race trailing Max Verstappen, despite the Red Bull having front wing damage and Vettel being on new medium tyres. "I don't understand why they worked in Australia and haven't worked ever since and today we have them working".

Vettel claimed after the race that there was no choice but to pit for a second time, although that didn't stop fans believing it was very poor strategy. Ferrari had pitted Vettel on lap 18 but Hamilton stayed out for a further eight laps and emerged with a comfortable 10-second gap on the German. He made two stops, while others made just one, and it cost him.

Vertappen held off Vettel for a first podium finish of the season despite damaging a front wing when he ran into Lance Stroll's Williams after the virtual safety auto restart.

Hamilton, however, remained untroubled in the clean air out front and had 16 seconds on Bottas and 26 on Verstappen in third by lap 50. Mercedes didn't pit either Hamilton or the now second-placed Bottas and both cruised to the flag on their one-stop strategy.

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