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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Supreme Lewis Hamilton wins Spanish Grand Prix to extend championship lead

  • Victory at Circuit de Catalunya takes Mercedes-GP driver 17 points clear in drivers' standings
  • It was the 64th victory of his career - only Michael Schumacher on 91 has more - and came from his 74th pole
  • Only 14 of the 20 starters completed the race after a major high-speed crash on the opening lap
Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes GP celebrates after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya. Dan Istitene / Getty Images
Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes GP celebrates after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya. Dan Istitene / Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix in a commanding Mercedes one-two on Sunday to stretch his Formula One lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel from four to 17 points.

The victory, from pole position in a race that stayed dry despite the threat of rain, was the Briton's second of the season, 64th of his career and third at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Finland's Valtteri Bottas was second, a hefty 20.5 seconds behind, with 20-year-old Dutchman Max Verstappen completing the podium for Red Bull and Vettel fourth.

Hamilton's win followed on from the lucky victory that fell into his lap in Azerbaijan two weekends ago, but Sunday had nothing to do with chance and all to do with champions back to their best.

"This is more like it, let's keep this up," Hamilton told his celebrating team over the radio as he swept past the chequered flag.

"Today the car and myself, I felt that synergy which I hadn't been feeling for the whole year," he added in a pre-podium interview after parking up in pit lane. "It's a good feeling.

"We've got our Mercedes board with us ... so it's great to have them all here and see that true force within the team, strength in depth, so I hope we can continue."

Hamilton now has 95 points to Vettel's 78 after five rounds of the 21-race championship.

Mercedes regained the lead in the constructors' standings from Ferrari, who had 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen retire from the race.

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Read more:

Lewis Hamilton storms to pole for Spanish Grand Prix as Mercedes claim front row

Max Verstappen needs a quiet race in Barcelona: Spanish Grand Prix talking points

Red Bull should encourage Ricciardo and Verstappen to race despite collision in Azerbaijan

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Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull, ahead of Denmark's Kevin Magnussen for Haas and Spaniards Carlos Sainz (Renault) and Fernando Alonso (eighth for McLaren).

Mexican Sergio Perez was ninth for Force India and Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc took the final point for Sauber.

While Hamilton pulled away cleanly at the start, and Vettel passed Bottas into the first corner for second place, there was carnage behind as Romain Grosjean spun his Haas in a cloud of smoke.

The Frenchman said that it was a normal human reflex to hit the accelerator, and not the brakes, after his high speed spin took himself and two other drivers out on the opening lap at Circuit de Catalunya.

The Frenchman lost control of his Haas car at Turn 3 and continued to push on his accelerator as he spun.

As a result, his car created a cloud of black smoke and was invisible to following drivers as they raced into it - Nico Hulkenberg, of Renault, and Pierre Gasly, of Toro Rosso - both smashing into him.

"I lost the rear end of the car and then tried to get the position back, but it didn't work," said a crestfallen Grosjean afterwards.

"If I had braked, the car would have spun the same way. It is quite a normal human reflex - once the car went on to the track it was very difficult."

Grosjean's spin and crash were being investigated by the race stewards after the race.

Hulkenberg said: "I got crashed into - Romain spun, came back into the track.

"I couldn't go anywhere, couldn't avoid him and he took the back end of my car. There was nothing I could do. He didn't look great in that scenario.

"Generally, he likes spinning, but on the first lap is not a good time to do it with everyone there.

"He has to look at it and do some work on himself. I don't know how many times he spins on a race weekend. If he does it on his own, it's ok, but if he kicks others out of the race, it's not."

When racing resumed Vettel after six laps with the safety car was first of the leading group to pit but the Mercedes pair stayed out on what turned out to be a one-stop strategy, with Hamilton immediately smashing the lap record.

When Vettel made his second stop during a late virtual safety car period, after Esteban Ocon parked up his Force India by the side of the track, it backfired and he lost a place instead of gaining anything.

Verstappen, whose season has been littered with collisions, also nearly wrecked his race when he hit the rear of Canadian Lance Stroll's Williams and lost a front wing end-plate.