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Sebastian Vettel admits he was surprised to see Lewis Hamilton alongside him as he returned to the track following his second pit-stop as he ultimately lost out to his title rival in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Vettel appeared to be the driver to beat after getting a superior getaway from the lights over pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, but while he held a sizeable 7.3secs advantage over his rival after the first pit-stops, the Mercedes driver would ultimately reel him in.

Bottled up behind Valtteri Bottas for two laps and then caught out when Hamilton pitted straight after the Virtual Safety Car, when Vettel made his final stop on lap 40 he'd find the Briton alongside him as they raced to the opening bend.

Though Vettel would hold on after a 'love tap' on the exit of the right-hander, Hamilton would simply bide his time before getting a DRS-assisted drag into the first corner of lap 44 before easing away to victory.

A disappointment for Vettel, though the German says he enjoyed the close competition he was otherwise frustrated to miss out on victory having led from the start.

"I was pushing," he said. "I had a really good start, I managed to stay ahead and settle into a nice rhythm everything was fine. Obviously Lewis stayed out longer, did the opposite and mirrored the strategy so I knew in the end it'd be crucial. Then he came out and I was a bit surprised when we came out that is was already so close. I tried to late so late as possible in Turn 1, a love tap. I don't know if we touched but I managed to stay ahead so it was really close.

"The laps after I was doing everything I can to stay in front but I was a bit lucky as there was a car in front could give me a tow but when I was alone, he could fly past on the straight, which was a shame. Then we tried to stay in the race but well done to him, he drove a good race we did everything we could."

The result sees Vettel retain his championship lead, though it has been reduced to six points by Hamilton's second win of the season.

 

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