MONTMELO, Spain – Lewis Hamilton took his fourth straight victory for Mercedes and moved into a three-point championship lead over teammate Nico Rosberg after winning Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Called in earlier than he wanted on the 43rd lap – and after staying out for one more than the team requested – Hamilton had to fight to the finish on a set of hard tires as Rosberg, who stopped on the 44th lap, went back to the faster mediums.
Rosberg was relentless in pursuit. By the 56th lap, Hamilton’s lead was back down to 2.1 seconds, then 0.9, before Hamilton gained precious breathing space by opening it back up to 1.3 seconds by the 60th lap.
They went into their final lap separated by only six tenths of a second, nose to tail, with everything to play for and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari to lap as they sped into Turn 1. Hamilton got by the red car before the corner, but so did Rosberg.
Through Turn 1 Hamilton kept it together, then through Turn 3, and gradually Rosberg’s hopes faded. He needed, he admitted, just one more lap to launch an attack.
To the relief of the entire Mercedes crew, including team boss Dieter Zetsche, both of the Silvers Arrows made it across the finish line intact, still separated by six-tenths of a second. It was their fourth consecutive one-two finish.
“A big thank-you to my team, they’ve just done an incredible job this year,” Hamilton said. “I’m really happy with the support I’ve had here in Spain, it’s the best I’ve ever had, so thank you to everyone in the grandstands, it means the world to me. My first win here in Spain, it means everything to me.”
Daniel Ricciardo grabbed third for Red Bull, but he was 49 seconds behind Hamilton.
Red Bull got a big boost from 15th-place starter and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who used a three-stop strategy to take fourth.
A three-stopper also worked for Fernando Alonso, who played second fiddle to two-stopping Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen for much of the race. The Spaniard moved by the Finn with three laps to go, but his sixth place was very distant – Hamilton’s Mercedes was 87.7 seconds up the road, and had lapped the seventh-placed Raikkonen.
Romain Grosjean fought brake problems, which dropped him behind the Ferraris, to score Lotus’ first points of the season in eighth, one second ahead of the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren’s Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were in the fight for midfield points most of the way, but just didn’t quite have the pace to better 11th and 12th places, while a very disappointed Felipe Massa found a three-stop strategy failing to work out for him as he took 13th for Williams.