BARCELONA, Spain – Lewis Hamilton was not going to be denied on Sunday at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, leading all 66 laps en route to victory in the Formula One Emirates Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton blistered Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on the initial start, sweeping into the race lead at turn one and never looking back.
Despite a late restart with 14 laps to go, after a turn-two collision between Lando Norris and Lance Stroll necessitated a safety-car period, Hamilton raced away from Bottas down the stretch for his third win in five races this year and the 76th of his Formula One career.
It was the fifth time that Mercedes has finished first and second to open the season.
Sunday’s win was Hamilton’s third in a row in Barcelona, making him the first driver since Michael Schumacher to earn a hat trick of Spanish Grand Prix victories.
Schumacher won four straight from 2001 to 2004.
Hamilton also retook the lead in the F-1 driver’s championship from Bottas by virtue of his dominant performance.
“This is history in the making, to have five (Mercedes) one-twos, and I’m really proud to be a part of that,” said Hamilton. “It’s definitely been a bit of a hard first four races, because while we’ve had a great car, we haven’t always gotten along. It was nice to settle our differences in the race and get away well.
“It was an interesting start. … I saw the red car get around the back of both of us, and I had no idea whether they were further ahead, but I assumed they were,” Hamilton added. “I knew that Valtteri would be braking super deep, but it wasn’t a replay of Baku, at least.”
Hamilton never ceded the point once getting out front, starting on Pirelli’s soft tires and making his lone green-flag pit stop on lap 28, taking a set of medium-compound tires at that juncture.
A potentially-delaminating tire was a cause for concern for Hamilton in the second half of the race, but when Norris tagged Stroll around at turn two with 20 to go and brought out the yellow, Hamilton was able to make another pit stop for fresh rubber without giving up control of the race.
From there, the Briton nailed the final restart on lap 53 of 66 and took off, setting the fastest lap of the race as well on the final run and picking up a bonus point toward the championship for his efforts.
“I’ve not had a fastest lap all year, so that feels good too,” Hamilton noted. “It’s about time.”
Though Bottas took the pole position on Saturday during qualifying, he simply couldn’t match his teammate’s pace when it mattered and came home 4.074 seconds adrift at the checkered flag.
“I lost that race at the start,” lamented Bottas. “It was like … biting and releasing, biting and releasing, which I’d never felt before. As a team, this is incredible … and I got some good points. Every single point is going to count this year, but I’m keen to find out why the start was so bad and what the issue was.”
Max Verstappen completed the podium, moving to third in points as a result after outpacing the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc for most of the afternoon.
“It was a hectic first corner, so I backed out of it, and that actually gave me good positioning after the first three corners,” reflected Verstappen. “From there on, the Mercedes cars were too quick, but I could do my own pace and we were competitive. I’m happy to be on the podium after this one.”
Vettel and Leclerc’s positions were up in the air for most of the day, with Leclerc let through on team orders early after Vettel picked up a flat spot on the opening lap. Vettel was later allowed to repass Leclerc when the latter was moved to a one-stop strategy and was slower on hard tires.
The four-time F-1 champion ended up fourth in the final rundown, with Leclerc finishing fifth.
Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and the second Haas entry of Romain Grosjean completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10.
Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kvyat, Romain Grosjean, Alexander Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell, Robert Kubica, Lance Stroll, Lando Norris.