Lewis Hamilton moved back to the top of the Formula 1 drivers' championship after taking a dominant lights-to-flag victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, leading Mercedes to its fifth consecutive one-two finish.

Only a late Safety Car period put Hamilton under any real pressure at the front of the pack as the five-time world champion controlled proceedings at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, giving Mercedes its seventh straight win, as rival team Ferrari was left flustered with team orders and pit stop errors.

Hamilton was able to get the jump on pole-sitter Bottas at the start on the run down to Turn 1 before pulling out a healthy lead in the opening stages of the race, running over eight seconds clear before the first round of pit stops.

While the Mercedes drivers pulled clear at the front early on, Ferrari was left tripping over itself once again. An attempt by Sebastian Vettel to go around the outside of both Mercedes drivers at Turn 1 ended with him flat-spotting his left-front tyre and cutting across teammate Charles Leclerc at Turn 2, allowing Red Bull's Max Verstappen to sweep past both of them.

As Vettel struggled with a vibration on his tyre and lost more and more time to Verstappen, Ferrari took the call to swap its drivers on Lap 11, albeit with the gap to Verstappen already having grown to over four seconds.

Ferrari's plight deepened at the first round of pit stops when both Vettel and Leclerc had slow left-rear tyre changes, causing the gap to Verstappen to grow to over 10 seconds. The setback with Leclerc dropped him into the clutches of Vettel once again, with the pair swapping back position on Lap 37.

Verstappen was the only driver to commit to a two-stop strategy early on, fitting a second set of Soft tyres as he pushed to catch Bottas ahead. The Red Bull driver pitted with 22 laps to go, taking a set of Medium tyres to force Mercedes into bringing Bottas in for a second time soon after, and ponder a second stop for Hamilton.

The decision was made for the team when the Safety Car was deployed with 20 laps to go after Lance Stroll and Lando Norris collided at Turn 2. Norris attempted to pass the Racing Point driver up the inside, only for the pair to make contact, sending Stroll into the gravel. Norris was forced to park up at the side of the track with car damage.

Mercedes reacted quickly by pitting Hamilton for a fresh set of Soft tyres, ensuring he retained his lead ahead of Bottas, albeit without the 10-second buffer he had enjoyed prior to the race being neutralised, and with Verstappen, Vettel and Leclerc all tucked up behind him for the restart.

Hamilton wasted little time re-establishing his advantage when the race returned to green with 14 laps to go, jolting more than four seconds clear of Bottas in a couple of laps. Both Mercedes drivers were able to ditch Verstappen and the chasing Ferraris behind with ease, leaving the trio to scrap for the final podium position.

Hamilton crossed the line for the 76th victory of his F1 career and to move back into the lead of the F1 drivers' championship standings, sitting seven points clear of Bottas after also picking up the bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

With a fifth straight one-two finish, Mercedes extends its lead in the constructors' championship and continues the best-ever start by a team to a season in F1 history.

Verstappen was able to keep the Ferrari drivers at an arm's length through the closing stages to clinch his second podium finish of the year, moving up to P3 in the points table in the process as Vettel and Leclerc followed in fourth and fifth respectively.

Pierre Gasly matched his best result in Red Bull colours by finishing sixth, with the Safety Car helping reduce the deficit to Leclerc in fifth that had stood at 15 seconds prior to the race being neutralised.

Kevin Magnussen managed to lead the midfield for Haas in P7 after winning a close wheel-to-wheel battle with teammate Romain Grosjean in the closing stages. The pair went side-by-side exiting Turn 1 on consecutive laps, forcing both drivers to take evasive action. Magnussen eventually won the battle, while Grosjean's pace faded through the closing laps, allowing Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat to pass for eighth and ninth respectively in the closing stages. Grosjean held on for a point in P10, narrowly beating Alexander Albon.

Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg endured another race outside of the top 10 for Renault, finishing 12th and 13th, while Kimi Raikkonen suffered his first point-less race of the year as he took 14th ahead of Racing Point's Sergio PerezAntonio Giovinazzi finished 16th ahead of Williams drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica both of whom were one lap down.

The 2019 F1 season continues with the Monaco Grand Prix on May 24.

 

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