44 Lewis Hamilton from Great Britain Mercedes W09 Hybrid EQ Power+ team Mercedes GP during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2018 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton scored a dominant win in the fifth race of the Formula 1 2018 season at the Spanish GP. The Briton scored his second consecutive win of the season and his 64th of his career. Valtteri Bottas claimed second spot for a Mercedes 1-2.  Max Verstappen completed the podium places in Barcelona.

Sebastian Vettel ended a disappointing fourth, as Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 5. Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc rounded off the top 10 positions.

Lewis Hamilton Scores A Dominant Win

The race started in cool conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, under overcast skies. The air temperature was at 15 degrees C and track temperatures at 34 degrees C. Lewis Hamilton was on pole for only the second race in 2018. His teammate Bottas joined him in the first row.

Title-rival Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were on the second row. Verstappen and Ricciardo lined up on the third row. Magnussen, Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean lined up at the front of the grid.

Nine of the top ten drivers started on the yellow-striped soft tyres. Only Fernando Alonso, the crowd favorite, was on the red-striped supersoft tyres. Overnight rain had washed away the rubber laid down on the track and the track had less grip on race day.

The Start

Hamilton made a good start and led into turn 1. Vettel overtook Bottas on the outside and was right behind Hamilton. Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen and Ricciardo followed in that order.

But mayhem ensued behind them. There was contact between the two Spaniards, Sainz and Alonso. Grosjean hit the brakes hard behind his teammate, spun and came right across the track and took out both Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly. Three cars out on lap 1 and the Safety Car (SC) was deployed.

On the SC restart on lap 7, Hamilton led Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen Verstappen, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon and Alonso.

Drivers Move Up

Lance Stroll was the big gainer climbing up six spots to P12. After the restart, Alonso immediately overtook Esteban Ocon to get into the points as he took P10. By lap 10, Hamilton had opened a 3 second gap to Vettel. By lap 15, Hamilton kept pulling away from Vettel and increased his lead to 6.7s. Everybody else was holding position behind them.

First Pitstops

On lap 17, Vettel was the first driver among the leaders to pit and change to the white-striped medium tyres. On lap 20, Bottas made his pitstop for the same compound tyres. But Vettel was able to stay in front of Bottas as he came out of the pits. The other drivers including race leader Hamilton made their pitstops for the medium compound tyres.

The two Red Bull drivers, Verstappen and Ricciardo extended the first stint until lap 34. Hamilton who was stuck behind Verstappen after his first pitstop was released now to extend his lead in front.

Raikkonen complained to the pitwall about a problem and on lap 25, retired from the race. On lap 35, the order was Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Magnussen. They were followed by Stoffel Vandoorne, Marcus Ericsson, Sainz and Leclerc behind them.

Processional Race

On this track on which it is hard to overtake, everybody was just holding position. On lap 41, Ocon retired as he lost power and the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed. Vettel who experienced more tyre degradation compared to the drivers around him pitted under the VSC for a set of new medium compound tyres.

This dropped Vettel to P4 behind Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen. On the VSC restart, Verstappen hit Stroll and lost part of his front wing. Alonso overtook Leclerc for P8. The main interest now was centered on Verstappen and if he could stay ahead of Vettel for a podium finish.

Dominant Win for Hamilton

Verstappen was able to maintain his 2+ second gap to Vettel lap after lap, even with his damaged car. Perez overtook Leclerc for P9. As everybody held station, the only drama was if Bottas with tyres which were over forty laps old, with a flat spot and vibration, could hold on to his second position.

Hamilton took his second consecutive win with over a 20 second margin over his teammate. Bottas made it a Mercedes 1-2. Verstappen scored his first podium of the season as he finished P3. Vettel finished a disappointing fourth, with Ricciardo in P5.

Magnussen scored an impressive sixth position, followed by Sainz, Alonso, Perez and Leclerc in the point scoring positions.

Mercedes Back On Top

With the first 1-2 finish of the 2018 season, Mercedes is back on top of the constructors’ championship. The Silver Arrows has opened up a gap of 27 points over arch-rival Ferrari. Hamilton has extended his lead over Vettel to 17 points in the drivers’ championship.

On we go to Monaco for the next race in two weeks time. With dramatic swings in form in the five races already, it would be interesting to see who has the upper hand in the next race.

Hamilton’s Good Day At The Office:

Spanish GP Race Results:

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1:35:29.972 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 +20.593s 18
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 66 +26.873s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 +27.584s 12
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 66 +50.058s 10
6 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 65 +1 lap 8
7 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 65 +1 lap 6
8 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 65 +1 lap 4
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 64 +2 laps 2
10 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 64 +2 laps 1
11 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 64 +2 laps 0
12 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 64 +2 laps 0
13 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 64 +2 laps 0
14 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 63 +3 laps 0
NC 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 45 DNF 0
NC 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 38 DNF 0
NC 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 25 DNF 0
NC 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 0 DNF 0
NC 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 0 DNF 0
NC 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 DNF 0

* Provisional results

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