Lewis Hamilton has won his 88th Formula One Grand Prix and now holds a record-breaking 156 podium finishes after leading from lights out to flag today at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Max Verstappen in the Red Bull remains the only other driver on the grid capable of competing with the Mercedes duo, finishing in second place, 24 seconds behind Hamilton today.
Valtteri Bottas came in third – a late tyre change to the soft Pirelli’s ensured third position and he claimed some additional consolation with the fastest lap of the day.
At lights out, Verstappen swiftly made his way around Bottas, while Racing Point’s Lance Stroll also managed to gain a position on the Finnish driver from the start. Gasly shot ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc while Haas driver, Kevin Magnussen made his move to get ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo and Esteban Ocon in the Renault.
By Lap 4 Hamilton had already established a comfortable lead over the rest, with 1.3s between himself and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Lap 5 saw Bottas recover, managing to get around Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, who had been doing a good job of keeping him at bay for some time, but Bottas was back in the top three with his British teammate.
After lap 10 Hamilton began to pick up the pace and gradually increased his advantage over Verstappen who was struggling on Pirelli’s soft compound tyre.
Although the Dutch driver is proving capable of challenging the Mercedes duo, he struggled throughout today’s 66 lap race to close the gap to Hamilton.
Meanwhile, in the midfield, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was defending 11th place against Danil Kvyat after yet another difficult weekend for the prancing horses, whose car seems worlds behind the performance of their 2019 SF90.
Hamilton had yet to show the full speed of his Mercedes W11 by Lap 18, as he was lapping a full 8s off his pole time from qualifying this weekend.
While Verstappen continued to struggle with his rear tyres, the second Red Bull of Alex Albon went into the pits on lap 20 which saw the Thai driver drop to P16.
Verstappen swiftly followed suit, pitting on lap 22, the pit crew changing his tyres in just 1.9 seconds, to ensure he returned to the track in third position ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
Both Mercedes made their stops for new Pirellis on lap 24, with Hamilton losing time when the rear left wheel seemed to get stuck mid swap.
Despite the brief delay, he still held first position as he rejoined the track, with Bottas returning to the race in third behind Verstappen.
At the halfway point, Hamilton had a 3.8s lead over the star Red Bull driver, who was followed closely by Bottas but with no immediate pressure of an overtake.
Meanwhile, in the midfield, the McLaren in the hands of Carlos Sainz remained ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Renault which was swiftly overtaken by the second Red Bull of Alex Albon on lap 33.
Leclerc became the one and only retirement of today’s race, a disappointing outcome for the Monégasque driver, whose engine cut out on Lap 37. After getting the car up and running again, the Ferrari driver was summoned to the pits. The problem was terminal and he subsequently retired.
With just ten laps to go, Hamilton proved to be in a league of his own, with a 13.7 second lead on Verstappen who held his position in second.
Danil Kvyat and Sergio Perez both received 5-second penalties for ignoring blue flags which ensured a P4 finish for the second Racing Point driver, Lance Stroll.
Hamilton started his final lap with a 22 second lead over Verstappen, whose second-place finish was effectively confirmed as Bottas entered the pits for a set of soft Pirellis to make the most of his final lap.
Verstappen came home in second, 24 seconds behind Hamilton, while Bottas came in third after a disappointing race, his poor start not aiding his cause today as once again he struggled to live with his teammate’s pace in the Mercedes.
Racing Point’s Perez finished in fourth but dropped to fifth after receiving his 5-second penalty.
Vettel finished in seventh today for Ferrari after an incredible one-stop race that saw the German driver advance from a P11 start. The decision to stay out on deteriorating soft tyres proved worthwhile.
Alex Albon finished today’s race in eighth after another difficult run for the Thai driver, who was followed by Pierre Gasly in ninth and McLaren’s Lando Norris closing out the top ten today.
Hamilton remains first in the driver’s standings with 132 points, ahead of Verstappen with 95 and Bottas holding onto third place with 89 points.
Racing will return in two week’s time in Belgium at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit where fans will wait to see a closer battle between Mercedes and the Red Bull.
Leave a Reply