Sebastian Vettel ensured it was business as usual in Barcelona after the defending F1 champion returned to the top step of the podium with victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver started the race from second on the grid but having taken the lead following the second round of the pitstops, the German was able to clinch his fourth win in five races this season – despite the best efforts of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to find a way through in the closing laps.
The start of the race had seen Fernando Alonso give the crowd reason to cheer as he blasted into the lead on the run to turn one, diving down the inside of both Mark Webber and Vettel into the first corner as the Red Bull pair diced for position.
Leading by 0.7secs at the end of the opening lap, Alonso was able to keep his lead ahead of the Red Bull pair to the second round of pitstops. However, Vettel – who had made a series of crucial moves in traffic on his out-lap after the first stop to stay close to Alonso – dived in to make his second stop one lap sooner than Alonso and was able to get ahead into the lead.
The second round of stops would also prove to be the crucial moment of the race for Hamilton, who had got ahead of Webber in the first round of stops to lie third. Staying out on track a number of laps longer before making his second stop, the Briton got ahead of Alonso and then set about chasing down Vettel for the remainder of the race.
Hamilton closed onto the rear of the Red Bull as the race wore on but despite the fact that Vettel was only able to use his KERS intermittently, the McLaren was unable to find a way through.
On more than one occasion, Hamilton found himself close enough to utilise his DRS on the start-finish straight, but despite the fact he was able to surge up the rear of Vettel's car, the German wasn't to be beaten as he clinched victory by six-tenths of a second.
Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button took third place but only after a disastrous start to the race, where he was hung out to dry at the first corner and slipped down to tenth at the end of the opening lap. A decision to run a three-stop strategy compared to the four stops favoured by the cars around him, proved to be key to the Briton making up places as he found himself on the quicker soft tyres mid-way through the race while others had swapped to harder rubber.
Battling ahead of Alonso and Webber on one lap, Button then enjoyed a fine run to third place as Webber was unable to respond – leaving the pole-sitter nearly 50 seconds behind the winner in fourth.