F1: Dominant Hamilton Wins Fifth Consecutive Spanish Grand Prix

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A great strategy call from Mercedes aided Lewis Hamilton's fight for victory in Catalunya. © XPB Images

Lewis Hamilton held off a spirited Max Verstappen to extend his lead to 14 points in the Drivers’ Standings.

It was an exciting 66 laps as the two front runners went head-to-head on different strategies with Hamilton coming out on top.

A feisty move on Lap 1 set the tone with Verstappen quickly pulling away.

A Safety Car brought the field back together however and Verstappen never looked like the fastest car from that point onwards.

Elsewhere, Esteban Ocon picked up some valuable points for Alpine while Ricciardo outshone Norris on race day with a strong 6th.

A rarity so far with the Brits blistering form.

Red Bulls strong start

It was neck and neck as the cars charged down to Turn 1 with Red Bull in particular  making a stronger start.

They seem to be finding that precious traction off the line and as a result, Perez climbed two places to run 6th after the opening laps.

His team mate went one better sliding up the inside of Hamilton at the first corner.

It was a ‘Verstappen-esque’ move as he once again pushed the boundaries of what is deemed a fair pass in Formula One.

Crucially, he did have the racing line and made it stick.

There was no contact either this time and it is great to see these incredible drivers going wheel to wheel on a consistent basis at the minute.

Long may it continue.

As well as losing first position, Hamilton’s enforced wide line hindered his team mate behind him.

Bottas had made a decent start, however he lost momentum getting caught up in the battle ahead.

This left him vulnerable to a charging Charles Leclerc who pulled off a beautiful move around the outside of Turn 3.

It rolled back the years for the Ferrari faithful with its similarities to Fernando Alonso swooping round the outside of Hamilton in 2013.2

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Tsunoda’s weekend goes from bad to worse

After a Q1 exit and and an apology for comments he made about his teams commitment, Yuki Tsunoda would have hoped for a better day on Sunday.

It took only 8 laps for his bubble to be burst however, as engine troubles forced the Alpha Tauri to park up at the side of the track.

With his car in a dangerous position, the Safety Car was called out.

That’s seven races in a row we’ve seen Safety Car driver, Bert Mylander called into action.

Ironically, the driver that came off worst was in the sister team Red Bull.

Verstappen had done well to pull out a one second gap up front and get clear of Hamilton’s DRS.

The Safety Car wiped out the good work he had done and bunched the pack up again for the restart on Lap 10.

As the race got back underway there was jostling throughout the field.

Lance Stroll pulled off a well-crafted move down the inside of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.

“Top draw from Lance Stroll. Around the outside of Turn 4 gives you the inside of Turn 5.” mused Martin Brundle in commentary.

The pass took him into the points with his team mate close behind in 12th.

There was more misery for the Alpha Tauri team, as well.

Pierre Gasly misjudged his grid slot at the race start.

A 5 second time penalty a fair outcome which set him back in the race.

The first round of stops

Lap 24 and the pit window is open.

Bottas is the first to jump putting on a set of mediums as he tried to maximize the undercut.

After being unable to get passed Leclerc, he will be frustrated that he wasn’t close enough to allow his team to split the strategies.

We’re not seeing Bottas 2.0 at the minute; we’ve barely even seen Bottas 1.0 for that matter.

He will need to significantly improve over the next few weeks if he is going to be part of the title fight.

Meanwhile, Hamilton was starting to up the ante taking chunks out of Verstappen’s lead with each passing sector.

At the end of Lap 24 the Dutchman couldn’t take his worn softs any further.

He shot into the pits with a half a second lead, leaving Hamilton to push in clean air.

Then disaster struck for the Red Bull outfit.

The team, usually so efficient with their stops, cracked under pressure.

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“The tyres are okay.” said a calm Hamilton as everything began to fall into place for the British driver.

Mercedes opted not to pit straight away, despite the AWS graphics suggesting Hamilton would have come out in front.

Verstappen inevitably began to make inroads but his tires had already lost their shine.

We then saw the unusual ‘FIA Radio’ tag pop up with an irate Toto Wolff pleading to Race Director, Michael Masi about Nikita Mazepin holding Hamilton up on track.

A nice new feature from Formula One which gives us another insight into the role of a Team Principal during the race.

Hamilton comes in

Lap 29 and Hamilton finally dived in for new tires.

A 2.7 second stop ensured Mercedes had no issue like their rivals a few laps previous.

Further back, Leclerc also pitted for his own set of mediums coming out in 4th while Ricciardo continued his fine weekend just behind.

Peres continued his charge up the field moving into 6th place passing Kimi Raikkonen who  started on the medium tire and was yet to pit.

He lost ground to Ricciardo ahead though after the turbulent air sent him sliding straight off at Turn 3.

Mercedes Take a Strategic Gamble

Lap 43 and Hamilton was hunting down Verstappen at a vast rate of knots

An exasperated Verstappen came on the radio lamenting the grip of the closing Silver Arrow.

Mercedes then  threw in a curveball however as Hamilton dived into the pits for a scrubbed set of mediums just as it looked like he would be gearing up for an overtake.

“Hungary 2019.” An ominous reminder from Verstappen’s race engineer.

Hamilton hunted the Red Bull down in that race using his superior pace to get passed.

22 laps to go, 22 seconds to Verstappen.

Would we see a repeat?

The final stages

Perez put his Saturday troubles behind him with a superb overtake at Turn 1.

It seemed like he would have to wait till the next lap to have a crack at the Papaya McLaren.

Sergio had other ideas however and went steaming round the outside of Ricciardo taking him up the 5th place.

The McLaren man and Carlos Sainz came in shortly after for their second stop with each taking a set of softs.

On Lap 52 Hamilton made his way past Bottas who was running in a race of his own in third.

Bottas didn’t exactly make it easy for his team mate, with Toto Wolff looking displeased in the Mercedes Garage.

Hamilton gets through

Verstappen had put up a valiant effort hoping he could hold on for victory.

Unfortunately, it was not to be with Hamilton and Mercedes proving too quick yet again.

He passed him on Lap 60 with a nice move around the outside of Turn 1.

Jubilation ensued in the Mercedes garage as Toto Wolff put his hands in the air to celebrate.

Behind the leaders Alonso was leading a train reminiscent of Jarno Trulli in the mid 2000s.

Clinging on to the final point scoring position, the Spaniard had Stroll, Raikkonen and Gasly all within a few seconds.

Stroll went for a brave move into Turn 1 but ran wide.

He didn’t make the same mistake twice though going through on the next lap with Alonso quickly falling down the pecking order.

After a strong qualifying performance, Fernando will be disappointed to not have converted it into more on race day at his home grand prix

Hamilton brought the car home with a comfortable 15 second lead in the end.

Verstappen snatched the fastest lap extra point with a late stop followed by Bottas in third.

Leclerc kept up his strong form with fourth while Perez, Ricciardo and Sainz followed bringing home good points for their respective teams.

Norris was 8th with Ocon doing a solid job for the Alpine team in 9th.

Pierre Gasly recovered from his 5 second penalty earlier in the race to steal 10th from Lance Stroll in the closing laps.

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