Lewis Hamilton was untouchable in Spain on Sunday as he raced to his second win of this season, unchallenged as he led home a Mercedes 1-2.
The Safety Car was out before the first lap was even halfway done as Romain Grosjean spun at Turn 3 and came back onto the racing line where he collected Nico Hulkenberg. Pierre Gasly was also involved.
Pure carnage at the start
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 13, 2018
Grosjean explained the crash on team radio: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m OK. I tried the outside, Kevin [Magnussen] lost it a bit, then I got dirty air and that’s it.”
While that was all going on, Lewis Hamilton had taken the lead from pole position with Sebastian Vettel going around the outside of Valtteri Bottas to slide into second. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth ahead of the Red Bulls.
The race restarted on lap 7 and such was Hamilton’s pace that the Brit set a new race lap record (the first of the afternoon) on lap 9 – while his W09 was still carrying short of 100kg of fuel!
Making the most of Pirelli’s new thinner tyre treads, which some rivals have accused of giving Mercedes an advantage, Hamilton checked out at the front. His lead was 4.7s after ten laps and 7.9s ahead of the German when Vettel pitted on lap 18.
He was the first of the front runners to stop and came out P7 behind Kevin Magnussen. Bottas came in two laps later with Vettel only just managing to get ahead of the Finn, and Magnussen.
Raikkonen’s race ended on lap 26 with the Finn reporting that he has “some issue, no power” as he slowly toured around the circuit before pulling into the pits, retiring the car.
Hamilton pitted from the lead coming out in second place behind Max Verstappen and in front of Daniel Ricciardo. Both Red Bulls were yet to stop with Ricciardo in on lap 33 and Verstappen pitting a lap later.
With the first round of pit stops over it was Hamilton leading by 10s ahead of Vettel and Bottas. Verstappen was fourth, a further nine seconds behind with Ricciardo seven seconds back.
Vettel was asked about switching to a Plan B, but reportedly said he wasn’t a “big fan” as he was losing the rear tyres. Asked the same question by his Mercedes team, Bottas told his pit wall: “For the moment it’s very consistent, but very unknown.”
Esteban Ocon became the fifth retirement of the afternoon as he parked by an exit road on the run down to Turn Five with smoke coming out of the back of the Force India.
That brought out the Virtual Safety Car and the Ferrari mechanics as Vettel pitted, stationary for 5.6s as Ferrari were forced to wait for Sergio Perez before releasing the driver, and fell from second to fourth as he lost a position to Verstappen, who then accidentally ran into the back of a Williams at the restart.
The VSC ends, and Verstappen hits the back of Lance Stroll
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 13, 2018
The field was reduced to 14 drivers as Stoffel Vandoorne “lost drive”. He was P13 at the time.
Meanwhile Hamilton one-stopped his way to the victory, his second of this season, to go 17 points clear of Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship. Bottas’ tyres did more than 45 laps as he held onto second place ahead of Verstappen.
Vettel was fourth with Ricciardo next in line. Kevin Magnussen had a lonely afternoon as he finished in sixth place, best of the rest for Haas.
Carlos Sainz was seventh ahead of Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, who scored for the second time in his fledgling F1 career.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35:29.972
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 20.5
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 26.8
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 27.5
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 50.0
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1 lap
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1 lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1 lap
9 Sergio Perez Force India 2 lap
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber 2 lap
11 Lance Stroll Williams 1 lap
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2 laps
13 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 2 laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 3 laps
Did not finish
Vandoorne McLaren engine
Ocon Force India engine
Raikkonen Ferrari engine
Gasly Toro Rosso crash
Hulkenberg Renault crash
Grosjean Haas crash