Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Lewis Hamilton rejuvenated by Spain F1 victory but wary of Monaco GP

Lewis Hamilton rejuvenated by Spain F1 victory but wary of Monaco GP

Verstappen steered his Red Bull to a lap of 1 minute, 17.538 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where he finished Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in third place behind victor Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Valtteri Bottas.

But no sooner did the race get underway than it ended in a shower of carbon fibre.

The Haas F1 Team has started 2018 with a cracking little vehicle, as demonstrated by Kevin Magnussen who finished sixth in Barcelona. The Frenchman chose to keep his foot on the throttle, which spun him across the circuit in a plume of smoke. However, the Haas of Romain Grosjean spun at Turn 3 and took out the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly.

Hamilton had a clean start, with Vettel moving from third to second by passing Bottas on the outside of Turn 1. The closest Vettel came to matching Hamilton's pace in his first stint was on laps 12, 13 and 16, when Vettel's times were around 0.4s down, still a huge deficit. Two laps later, Mercedes brought in Bottas in the hope that he had gone fast enough to get ahead of Vettel after the pit stop.

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Ferrari was forced to end Kimi Raikkonen's race early with a suspected engine issue.

"There are a lot of challenging races coming up and Monaco is a serious challenge", Hamilton said. Struggling with his tyres, Vettel would pit on lap 17.

Untroubled at the start, Hamilton was able to extend his lead to over six-seconds after the early safety auto period and from there was able to control his pace, never once looking in danger of being headed. The teams for the change, including Ferrari and Mercedes, feel that the research that's been done by the new technical team at F1 headed by Ross Brawn justifies the modifications. However, he opted to stay on the track.

"We do after the five races now have a much, much better understanding of the auto, of what we need to do to get the vehicle to be working - but we still have learning to do, improvements to be made". But the German marque struggled a year ago in Monaco, with Ferrari sweeping to a one-two finish.

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Ferrari's sudden inability to eke out tyre life will raise some contentious questions in the paddock. During winter testing around the circuit, teams shared concerns over Pirelli's rubber showing signs of severe blistering, even in the arctic conditions of a winter where even Spain saw snow.

The more rubber on the tyre, the more heat it retains - and without the normal level of wear the surface of the tyre was getting so hot through Barcelona's high-speed corners that it started to blister.

Red Bull brought in Ricciardo first on the 33rd lap, then Verstappen a lap later.

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