Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Hamilton ends his F1 pole drought in style

Hamilton ends his F1 pole drought in style

The Mercedes driver raced unchallenged to the victory at the Barcelona circuit on Sunday afternoon.

Hamilton now leads in the championship by 17 points over Vettel, with the team 27 points over its Italian rivals in the constructors' championship.

Valtteri Bottas backed his team-mate up in second, concluding Mercedes' first one-two of the season, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen taking his first podium of the year in third.

Bottas got his chance under a Virtual Safety Car on Lap 42 - Sahara Force India's Esteban Ocon stopped on track with a mechanical problem - as Ferrari elected to pit Vettel a second time to take on new Medium compound Pirellis. Hamilton was ten seconds in front of his team-mate by the time they were a third into the race, and just continued extending that advantage.

After his victory, Hamilton said: "We definitely got ourselves onto the right path this weekend". "The best ones are sensitive and fragile", he said. And now we want to make them slower again. "So having such a good weekend it was good for his confidence". So, it's a little bit early to say. "And since then I just didn't have the confidence to attack, to lean on the auto, to have the rear particularly where I wanted it". Logic would tell you that the faster tyre is the better option, but Ferrari, like Red Bull, believed that the Soft tyre would give them better performance. "This is what racing drivers need, results, podiums and wins, and hopefully it is the beginning of a good phase".

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Hamilton's long-running contract saga could reach a conclusion in the coming weeks.

"I think today has been a rejuvenating experience", he said.

"We were going through the tyres quicker than the others today. I hope we can continue".

"Our understanding of the auto and the improvements that we're making are important too". I'm almost in the groove.

"I do respect (the drivers) and know how busy they can be".

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A few days after defending champion Lewis Hamilton complained that nobody asked for their advice while putting together a track layout for the proposed race in Miami next year, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel expressed his frustration about the lack of involvement of the drivers in the decision-making process for upcoming aerodynamic changes aimed to improve overtaking.

Assessing what this victory means going forward is difficult as Barcelona has always been a strong track for Mercedes, mostly because of the use of harder tyres which suit their vehicle more than Ferrari and Red Bull. His lead was 4.7s after ten laps and 7.9s ahead of the German when Vettel pitted on lap 18.

When the safety auto went in on Lap 7, he then streaked away from Vettel in second, setting multiple lap records, and was able to take his only pit stop eight laps later than the German with no concerns of being leapfrogged.

Mercedes held firm to their one-stop plan. There is... race by race we're understanding the tires more, which is a bit battle for everyone. "Ferrari did the opposite". With a damaged wing towards the end of the race, the 20-year-old showed superb composure to match the same lap times as Ricciardo and drive faster than Vettel.

But while that came courtesy of a puncture for Bottas, this one was all Hamilton. This question topped the list of most repeated questions to Vettel post-race! Wolff revealed in Barcelona that discussions had been put on the back burner following Mercedes' troubled start to the season.

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Daniel Ricciardo was fifth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc.

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