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Mercedes set the pace in practice for Spanish GP

Mercedes set the pace in practice for Spanish GP

Hamilton had a lap of 1 minute, 16.173 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, only four hundredths of a second ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton duly kept Vettel at bay following six laps before the Safety Car and cruised clear, building a lead of seven seconds by the time the Ferrari driver pitted for Mediums on lap 17 of 66.

Despite the Ferrari driver's fresher tyres, and the fact that Verstappen had damaged his front wing when he hit the rear of Lance Stroll's lapped Williams at the VSC restart, Vettel was unable to dislodge the Dutchman from the final step of the podium. I don't know how many times he spins on a race weekend.

But Hamilton's 64th grand prix victory was one of his most comfortable and has put him in a commanding position in the championship.

I thought it would be a lot closer but I was much happier with the auto.

The victory will be hugely pleasing and of some relief to the Briton.

Until Spain, it had appeared as if Ferrari had definitively the fastest auto and Hamilton's massive qualifying advantage in Melbourne was an outlier, caused by his affinity with that particular track. "These guys have done an incredible job, and I'm just really proud of everyone". He did not look able to threaten Hamilton however, with Mercedes optimistic that they are getting to grips wth the issue of the tyre operating window. Grosjean was later handed a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Monaco.




While Hamilton pulled away cleanly at the start, and Vettel passed Bottas into the first corner for second place, there was carnage behind as Romain Grosjean spun his Haas in a cloud of smoke.

All three drivers were unhurt but it was an exceptionally unsafe incident and why Grosjean kept his foot on the gas as he span, causing smoke that unsighted the following drivers, seems inexplicable.

His usual one lap prowess had been eclipsed by Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel in the previous three and Baku was his first win of the season.

Sebastian Vettel's strategy of making a second pit stop under a Virtual Safety Car period failed to come to fruition, as he dropped from second to fourth.

Hamilton, however, remained strong on his original soft rubber and maintained his pace out front. Therefore we were not able to stay out for another 23 laps. "It's the best you can hope for if you're not in a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull".

That left the German to settle for fourth, as Bottas and Max Verstappen joined Hamilton on the podium.

With Hamilton once again in clean air out front he held the lead on Vettel at over ten-seconds, when the virtual safety auto was deployed after Esteban Ocon's retired at the side of the track on lap 41. Red Bull's Max Verstappen repeated Hamilton's complaint of rain around Turn 12 on lap 24, before dodging Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, whose power loss replicated that endured by the Finn on Saturday, ending his race-much to the chagrin of his biggest fan, who was a special guest of the Scuderia for this Grand Prix.

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