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Hamilton secures dominant win as Vettel falters at the Spanish GP

Written by  May 14, 2018

Lewis Hamilton proved Mercedes' pace in qualifying was no fluke as he claimed a comfortable victory at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

The world champion had no real competition throughout the 66 laps in Barcelona, eventually crossing the finish line over 20 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes claimed an emphatic 1-2.

For Sebastian Vettel, it was another race where the chance of a strong result was missed as a decision to pit for a second time during a mid-race Virtual Safety Car dropped him from second to fourth, where he would ultimately finish.

That allowed Max Verstappen to claim his first podium of the season in third, despite having to nurse a damaged car over the final 20 laps or so after just touching the back of Lance Stroll's Williams when the VSC ended.

In a largely processional race, the main action came at the start as Vettel jumped Bottas into second at the first two corners.

There would be carnage behind, as Romain Grosjean lost the rear of his Haas through Turn 3 causing a huge plume of tyre smoke, unable to properly judge where the Haas was, Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg both collided with the Frenchman, taking all three drivers out.

A prolonged Safety Car period was needed to clear away the debris but once the race was green again, Hamilton's pace was unmatched as he pulled away by half a second per lap at least over Vettel in second.

The Ferrari driver tried to respond by pitting first and switching to the Medium tyre, hoping it would cause a reaction from Mercedes, but it would have little effect as instead, his main focus was on keeping Bottas behind in third but the Mercedes driver was unable to mount a serious challenge.

The two Red Bulls once again found themselves unable to show their true pace in the first stint, as both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo ran behind Kimi Raikkonen, but when the Finn was forced to retire with an engine issue, both drivers pushed and hoped by running to a definitive one-stop strategy it would bring them into play.

Indeed, the only time Hamilton lost the lead was when he pitted for new tyres, running second behind Verstappen for a small number of laps.

Once the Dutchman had pitted though, it was a cruise to the checkered flag, even when the VSC was called to clear the broken down Force India of Esteban Ocon.

This is where Ferrari made what would turn out to be the wrong decision to pit Vettel for a second time, as a slow stop meant he came out fourth behind Verstappen.

Minor contact between the Dutchman and Lance Stroll, which resulted in front wing damage, seemed to offer the German hope of getting back on the podium.

However, able to adjust to the loss of downforce, the Red Bull driver was able to main enough of an advantage to go on and claim his first podium of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo has a bizarre race setting regular fastest laps but ended over 23 seconds behind his teammate after spinning under the VSC in fifth.

Kevin Magnussen also had a lonely race in sixth to finish as top midfield runner as Carlos Sainz got ahead of compatriot Fernando Alonso at the start and would claim seventh.

The McLaren driver would be stuck behind Charles Leclerc for a prolonged period in what was another strong performance from the F2 champion, but eventually, the local hero got past on the main straight en route to P8.

Sergio Perez would also pass the Monegasque late on for ninth but Leclerc would secure a second consecutive points finish in 10th for Sauber.

14 cars would make the finish with Stoffel Vandoorne the final retiree as the gearbox on his McLaren appeared to fail as he came onto the start/ finish straight.

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