Lewis Hamilton left it late but claimed his third victory in four races in an absolute thriller at the Spanish Grand Prix, extending his lead at the top of the driver standings to 14 points over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Hamilton’s 98th career victory, a record equalling fifth consecutive win in Barcelona, was another intense battle between the Briton and Verstappen. A brilliant move on the first corner gave the Dutchman the lead of the race, but he could not hold on and Hamilton reeled him in with just six laps to go.
Today’s race at the Circuit de Catalunya was expected to be the perfect track to see where the balance of power lies between Mercedes and Red Bull this season, and while Verstappen gave it everything, seven-time world champion Hamilton was just too good.
As Hamilton was congratulating his Mercedes team after crossing the line, an exchange between Verstappen and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner gave an idea on just how stinging this defeat was.
“It is what it is. We were just too slow - impossible to keep them behind," said Verstappen
"Good effort Max," replied. Horner. "I don't know what else we could have done there."
Hamilton’s Mercedes’ teammate Valteri Bottas picked up third place, Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc came fourth, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fifth. Meanwhile, Verstappen picked up the bonus point for fastest lap.
Speaking to Sky F1, Hamilton said, "I was just hunting. I was so close for so long and I didn't think in doing that I was going to be able to make the tyres last. But I just managed to. It was a long way to come back from 20 odd seconds back but it was a good gamble, a really great strategy from the team.
"I was about to have a shot at getting past him before I pitted right at the end and I was really conflicted. Do I come in or I do ignore the call and stay out? Obviously I did what the team asked and naturally that's because there's a great trust between us.
"Just a remarkable job by everyone in this team. What a day."
Verstappen said, "In a way I could see it coming. Already at the end with the softs he was faster, and then when we were put on the mediums he clearly had a lot more pace, he could just stay within one second.
"There was not much we could have done. They went for another stop and then I knew it was over because I was already struggling with the tyres and you could see every lap he was getting closer and closer. I was just a sitting duck.
"We were just clearly lacking pace. I tried everything I could.
"We are not where we want to be. We have to push hard and catch up because at the moment we are a little bit slower."