Hamilton beats Bottas in Spain
Lewis Hamilton led Valtteri Bottas to the fifth consecutive Mercedes one-two at the start of this season after dominating the Spanish Grand Prix.
The world champion, who started second, passed Bottas into the first corner and eased away to an ultimately comfortable win, despite a late safety car.
A long way behind, Ferrari used team tactics yet again but lost out to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for third.
But a disheartening performance for the Italian team on a weekend they hoped would make a step forward only emphasised the sense that Mercedes are in a league of their own this year and that the championship fight is already a private one between Hamilton and Bottas.
Hamilton, with three wins to the Finn’s two and a point for fastest lap from Spain to add to his tally, leads Bottas by seven points and their closest rival, Verstappen, is a massive 46 points behind, with Vettel a further two adrift, and Leclerc 10 behind him.
Mercedes’ lead is not far off two clear wins, at 25 points for a victory, and the size of the advantage at just about the quarter-way mark of a 21-race season underlines Mercedes’ superiority.
An aerodynamic upgrade to the world champions’ car for this race was said to be worth 0.4 seconds a lap and it more than compensated for both chassis and engine improvements by Ferrari.
Mercedes dominated the weekend, Bottas taking pole by 0.6secs after Hamilton had a messy qualifying session, and Hamilton controlling the race after making the better start, easing away in comfort.
The first corner was tense, with Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel three-wide on the entry, before Hamilton claimed the lead from the inside line and Vettel locked up on the outside and went into the run-off.
As the German rejoined, he ran team-mate Leclerc out of road, costing the Monegasque the third place he had just before claimed as Verstappen backed off to avoid running into the back of Bottas. Ferrari spent the rest of the race fighting a losing battle to reclaim that final podium place.