Mercedes restore order at top with Hamilton's win


Hamilton and the rest of Mercedes-AMG made their mark as early as qualifying.

The race resumed several laps later with Hamilton well in control from Sebastian Vettel and Bottas in third. In a way, while it was a shame for Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly, it was lucky that there weren't more cars wiped out in that or drivers injured.

The Safety Car was deployed.

"There are a lot of challenging races coming up and Monaco is a serious challenge", Hamilton said. 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.

Ferrari's call to stop Vettel for a second time, albeit under virtual safety vehicle conditions, has been heavily criticised by people who don't have access to the necessary data, such is the wonder of that most public of forums, the internet. We had problems finding the right balance of the vehicle and we were struggling with the front tyres.

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It lifted Mercedes 17 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors' championship and, after four mediocre outings this year, boosted confidence ahead of the glamorous Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks time.

The team attempted to jump the Ferrari during the first round of pit stops, but that didn't work either. On the next lap, Hamilton, still on soft tyres, set another new lap record. Mercedes responded by calling Bottas in a lap later but the Finn remained behind the Ferrari as he exited the pits.

In Azerbaijan it went wrong when he outbraked in a foolhardy attempt to pass Bottas, and in Barcelona he briefly shone when he passed both Bottas and Magnussen with one silken manoeuvre. I was on fresher tyres than Max.

When the Briton came out, he was smack in the middle of the two Red Bulls, but beyond DRS range of Verstappen.

It is a sign of how well Hamilton is driving in Barcelona that fellow four-time champion Vettel, not far from his own best, still could not overhaul him. While Verstappen claimed the final step on the podium Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth.

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"The pressure and the passion that I have to win this championship is far greater than I've ever had it". He was alone out front after making some smart calls with the little excitement the virtual safety auto was able to provide. Ferrari brought in Vettel for a tyre change.

However, a slow stop saw Vettel rejoin behind Bottas and Verstappen.

That cycle of races should be Ferrari's minimum target given drivers are limited to three of those components over the 21-race season before being penalised for more changes.

Hamilton also became the first F1 driver to finish in the points in 30 consecutive races.

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