Lewis Hamilton has put in a flawless display under the Spanish sun to edged closer to Michael Schumacher’s all-time winning record and denying any hopes of a Red Bull upset as the Brit cruised to an unrivalled Spanish Grand Prix victory twenty-seconds up the road from Max Verstappen.
The deed was done from the start as Hamilton’s largest threat Valtteri Bottas bottled the start to fall from second to fourth. The Finn then spent the next few laps reeling in the Racing Point of Lance Stroll before a strategic blunder by Mercedes to double stack their cars gifted Max Verstappen an unchallenged second.
Red Bull had hoped the high ambient temperatures coupled by the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s high-load corners would see the Mercedes’ deal with similar blistering issues as they did last weekend in Silverstone.
But a flurry of fastest laps by Hamilton after the 10th tour had been completed opened his lead beyond four seconds, one which the Red Bull would never threaten.
Verstappen grew more frustrated by the state of his tyres, complaining of driving on ice as he nursed wear, before Red Bull whistled him at the end of lap 21 to don the medium tyres with a n incredible 1.9s pitstop.
Mercedes reacted two laps later and the usually impeccable Silver Arrows mechanics were slow to fit Hamilton’s tyres but still managed to keep track position over the Red Bull.
The most intriguing battle by the midway point of the race was thanks to a huge DRS train of cars jostling for the lower points-paying positions. Headed by an ailing Daniel Ricciardo on worn tyres, Stroll, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Alex Albon, and both Ferraris were hot on the Australian’s heels.
Ferrari showed a welcome turn in pace despite concerns the warm weather would derail their upgrades. Charles Leclerc was well within a shot at a top-five finish before his Ferrari SF1000’s engine cut on Lap 37, locking the rear axle and making him spin at the Turn 15 chicane.
The Monegasque wheeled himself back to the pitlane but become the race’s first retirement.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel vented his frustration over the radio about his team’s bizarre stragety calls which left him vulnerable from attack towards the back stages of the race.
Vertsappen opted to go the other way with his strategy in a bold attempt to challenge for a victory, boxing again on Lap 41 with hope Hamilton’s tyres would fall off the cliff. Though Mercedes also expertly played a part in this call as they brought Bottas in a few laps earlier to undercut the Red Bull.
Hamilton came in on lap 50 to fit the mediums, saying the softs would have no life in them in the final few laps. The move was a strong one as the Brit came home 24.1s clear in the most imperious display so far in 2020.
“I was just in a daze out there, it felt really good! It felt like a fantastic effort from the team, but oh God it felt good out there. It was a real surprise because we had this problem with the tyres.
“Management was very, very good and I think that’s ultimately our understanding of what happened last week, what we brought in to this weekend has inevitably allowed us to do what we did today. I didn’t even know it was the last lap at the end, that’s how zoned in I was, I was ready to keep going.”
Verstappen finished 24.1s ahead of Bottas in second as Mercedes brought the Finn in for a third stop with two to run, which meant he clocked the fastest lap on the final lap.
Racing Point’s Perez crossed the line in fourth but dropped to fifth thanks to a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags, giving the chance Stroll to claim P4.
The McLaren of Carlos Sainz had a lonely end to the race in sixth ahead of the Ferrari of Vettel, Albon, a hard-charging Gasly and teammate Lando Norris.
|4||L. Stroll||1 Lap|
|5||S. Perez||1 Lap|
|6||C. Sainz||1 Lap|
|7||S. Vettel||1 Lap|
|8||A. Albon||1 Lap|
|9||P. Gasly||1 Lap|
|10||L. Norris||1 Lap|
|11||D. Ricciardo||1 Lap|
|12||D. Kvyat||1 Lap|
|13||E. Ocon||1 Lap|
|14||K. Raikkonen||1 Lap|
|15||K. Magnussen||1 Lap|
|16||A. Giovinazzi||1 Lap|
|17||G. Russell||1 Lap|
|18||N. Latifi||2 Laps|
|19||R. Grosjean||2 Laps|