Spanish Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas have claimed the team’s first 1-2 of 2018. Max Verstappen completed the podium by finishing P3 for Red Bull Racing.
The race started with carnage at Turn 3 with a multi-car crash involving Haas’ Romain Grosjean, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg & Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. Grosjean lost control of his car negotiating around the outside of Turn 3, spinning out and keeping the throttle in. This resulted in his car spinning back around and into the path of the other cars. While most managed to avoid the Haas, Hulkenberg & Gasly were unable to avoid getting caught up in the accident and were forced to retire with damage.
The Safety Car was deployed and remained out until Lap 7. Hamilton had held his lead off the line, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel moving up to P2 past Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1. When racing resumed on Lap 7, Hamilton immediately started sprinting away at the rate of a second a lap, with Vettel unable to pull any meaningful distance over Bottas. Kimi Raikkonen, running P4, ran ahead of Verstappen & Ricciardo’s Red Bulls.
Vettel was the first of the leaders to pit, taking on the Medium tyres. Tellingly, Mercedes did not immediately respond, with Hamilton & Bottas trading fastest laptimes as they stayed out on the Soft tyres. Bottas pitted a few laps after Vettel, but a slightly slow stop resulted in Vettel managing to keep P2. Ferrari’s day went very wrong on Lap 26, when Kimi Raikkonen slowed and was forced to retire, with a suspected turbo failure. Hamilton didn’t pit for a further eight laps, extending his lead on almost every single lap he circulated. When he did pit, he emerged over ten seconds clear of Vettel but behind the one stopping Max Verstappen.
Once Verstappen did come in for his one and only stop for the Medium tyre, Hamilton resumed the lead ahead of Vettel & Bottas, with Verstappen falling to P4. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed with 20 laps to go, due to the Force India of Esteban Ocon stopping on track with a power unit issue. Ferrari jumped at the opportunity to make another pitstop, bringing Vettel in for another set of Medium tyres. He came back out in P4, and sat there until the end of the race, unable to do anything about Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in front of him.
The race ended with Hamilton twenty seconds clear of Bottas, with Verstappen a further 6.5 seconds behind. Vettel had to settle for P4, with Daniel Ricciardo 20 seconds behind the Ferrari. Kevin Magnussen finished a very lonely P6, 48 seconds behind Ricciardo and 40 seconds clear of P7 Carlos Sainz. The Renault driver held off his compatriot Fernando Alonso, who brought his McLaren home in P8. Sergio Perez finished P9 for Force India, with Charles Leclerc rounding out the points finishers with P10.