The two 2021 title protagonists went wheel-to-wheel for the fourth time in as many races at Barcelona as Verstappen muscled his way into the lead at Turn 1 having made the better start.

A brilliant strategic gamble from Mercedes outfoxed Red Bull later in the race and Hamilton was able to chase down and overtake the Dutchman six laps from the end to seal his third win of the season.

Explaining his approach to the first corner, the seven-time world champion said he was thinking of “the long game”.

“I know Valtteri was obviously starting in third and the goal is to work as a team,” Hamilton said. “So I stayed to the left.

“I think in hindsight there could have been a moment, looking back, that when Max moved in behind me for a second, I could have pulled across and sealed the job there – but I didn’t.

“Then, as we went into Turn 1, I just made sure I gave as much space as I could to Max.

“In my mind, it’s always a marathon, not a sprint, so I’m just always thinking the long game.

“And sure, you could be a little bit more aggressive. Do I need to? Well, I’m in the position that I’m in because I don’t get too aggressive when I don’t need to be.”

Speaking about his perspective of the start, Verstappen said: "The launch was good. And I, of course, ran a little bit less wing, I think, compared to Mercedes and, of course, that helped a bit, to get alongside Lewis.

“And then I went for it in Turn 1.”

Hamilton’s 98th career victory saw him extend his world championship lead over Verstappen to 14 points heading into the Monaco Grand Prix on 23 May.

 

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