Hamilton reigns in Spain again with a late charge

Hamilton extends his championship advantage with a brilliant drive in Barcelona

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 4:32 pm
Updated Sunday, 9th May 2021, 4:36 pm
Lewis Hamilton celebrates his 98th GP victory

Lewis Hamilton charged back from 22 seconds with 22 laps to go to claim victory in the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Title rival Max Verstappen made a brilliant move on Hamilton at the start to lead in his Red Bull and pitted early to maintain the lead when Hamilton came to his stop. The Brit hunted down the Dutchman and was in position to pounce when he peeled into the pits for a second time, dropping him to third with 22 laps remaining.

On new tyres though, and with Verstappen's tyres aging badly, the Brit was able to claw back his advantage and make a move on the Red Bull with five laps to go to claim his second win in a row, and his fifth Spanish Grand Prix win.

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Hamilton overtook Verstappen in the closing stages on fresher rubber

"I feel great, like we can go again!" said Hamilton. "It was so close to the start and the Red Bull got a great start. After that, I was just hunting. I didn't think I could make the tyres last, but it was a long way to come back from 20-odd seconds, and it turned out to be a brilliant strategy from the team.

"It was always the plan to have a two-stop even though one-stop looked faster, but it's so hard to pull off. I had a shot at getting past him before I stopped for the second time and I was conflicted, but I did what the team suggested. It was a remarkable job from everyone in the team. What a day!"

Verstappen said: "I could see it coming. With the softs, Lewis was faster and on the mediums he clearly had more pace. There's not a lot more we could have done. When they stopped again, I knew we were done. I was a sitting duck.

"When you're in the lead, you don't want to pit into traffic but it's easier when you have the pace advantage. If we went for another stop, I don't think we'd have caught up. But I tried everything I could.

"We're not where we want to be, we still have to push hard and catch up. At the moment we're a bit slower, but compared to last year, we're closer."

Valtteri Bottas was held up by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the early stages, meaning he was always a way behind the leading duo throughout the Grand Prix. But after dispatching the Ferrari driver, the Finn had a fairly anonymous race thereafter, despite causing Hamilton a brief issue when he came to overtaking him later in the race.

Bottas added: "I lost a place to Charles on the first lap and I was stuck behind him, and it compromised me. It's a shame but we made it to the podium.

"Today was about small details, the pace was there. As a team, we're still scoring points but not perfect points."

Leclerc claimed fourth spot in Barcelona, ahead of Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo claimed sixth for McLaren, with Carlos Sainz seventh, Lando Norris eighth, Esteban Ocon ninth and Pierre Gasly picking up the final point on offer.