Lewis Hamilton's dominance leaves questions for Ferrari

14 May, 2018, 04:55 | Author: Felix Jensen
  • Updated mirrors for Vettel’s Ferrari SF71H at Spanish GP

Mercedes got off to a good start in Formula One's return to Europe, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton setting the pace in practice for the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday.

Racing resumed on lap seven, with Hamilton holding his lead through the restart.

Vettel looked set to finish behind Hamilton to limit the title damage, but Ferrari's gamble to pit him for a second time backfired with Valtteri Bottas following Hamilton home to secure Mercedes' first one-two finish of the season.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen retired near the halfway-point because of an apparent mechanical problem. "Today I felt a synergy with the auto that I hadn't been feeling all year", he said.

Hamilton had a clean start, with Vettel moving from third to second by passing Bottas on the outside of Turn 1.

Ferrari's loss was Verstappen's gain, as he claimed his first trip to the podium in what has been a messy and controversial season so far. "I've not had pole for a while", Hamilton said. "It's a shame it's only four hundredths but for us as a team, ideal result today".

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Alonso, though, was the only McLaren driver to reach the chequered flag after team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne lost drive, albeit while running outside of the points-paying positions.

By this point, Vettel had gotten ahead of Bottas for scond place and was hoping to chase after Lewis Hamilton who had maintained his lead from pole position. One of them was Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who spun his auto following the start into Turn 1, collecting Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly, which put all three out of the race with sufficient damage. Ricciardo cut under the 1:19 mark on lap 61, but it meant little to the Australian, in a lonely P5.

Grosjean, who struggled throughout the weekend, couldn't stop his auto from spinning across the track on Turn 3 and Hulkenberg and Gasly could not avoid colliding with him. The contact eliminated all three drivers and brought out the Safety Car for six laps.

Haas-Ferrari's Kevin Magnussen, Renault F1's Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren-Renault's Fernando Alonso, Force India-Mercedes' Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc of Alfa Romeo Sauber-Ferrari completed the top ten.

Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel ran strongly early on to split the two Mercedes off the start. The thinner tread on the rubber Pirelli have supplied this weekend in response to the blistering during testing in Barcelona certainly seemed to work to their advantage and the same type of tyres will be used at the French and British grands prix. What had looked at first sight like questionable strategy was actually, they said, just the vehicle going through its tyres quicker than others. After retiring in Baku, the Frenchman was full of optimistic coming in to Spain, but was forced to retire on lap 44 due to power failure.

The team would have analysed the softs that came off and made a judgement call based on the wear level to pit Vettel under the VSC and drop him from second place to fourth.

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