A two-stop strategy worked wonders for Lewis Hamilton who passed Max Verstappen with just six laps to go as he claimed his third race victory in 2021.
Verstappen looked to have taken the initiative early on, overtaking Lewis Hamilton into turn one on the opening lap after the defending world champion had clinched a record 100th pole position in qualifying.
However, Mercedes did an excellent job of forecasting the race, predicting that Red Bull would fade towards the end, with Hamilton pitted twice to make use of an extra set of medium compound tyres.
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The fresher tyres proved to be the deciding factor as Hamilton chased Verstappen, passing his Dutch title rival on lap 60. The 36-year-old now holds a 15-point advantage over Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship table.
Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas finished in third amid speculation about his future at Mercedes with Charles Leclerc taking fourth place following an impressive drive from the 23-year-old in the Ferrari.
DRIVER OF THE DAY - Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
In ordinary circumstances, Hamilton’s charge from third to first over the final eight laps would have been enough to make him Driver of the Day, but Leclerc’s performance deserves recognition. The 23-year-old will be disappointed not to finish on the podium having held third position for much of the race, but Leclerc still managed to get the best out of a Ferrari car that still struggles to compete against Mercedes and Red Bull.
WHERE THE RACE WAS WON
1/66 - Lights out! Verstappen takes the lead! The Red Bull got the better start than Hamilton off the start line and keeps his nerve to pass the world champion into turn one! We have a race on our hands!
29/66 - A 2.7-second pit stop from Hamilton! That's a good stop from Mercedes, but Verstappen is safe as he passes with Hamilton still in the pit lane. Hamilton is on the fresher tyres, though. A crucial phase of the race, this!
42/66 - Two-stop! Hamilton is into the pits again! This is a bold strategy move by Mercedes! They have made the decision to pull Hamilton in just as he was getting close to Verstappen. He's on the extra set of mediums.
53/66 - Hamilton past Bottas into second! Hamilton dives down the inside of his teammate into turn 10. That was not team orders. The Finn didn't let Hamilton past him. That had to be a proper pass, which is interesting…
60/66 - Hamilton now leads! That had been coming for the last few laps. Hamilton passes Verstappen into turn one and Red Bull will now surely think about pitting their driver in an attempt to snatch the fastest lap point.
HAMILTON WINS! The defending world champion wins the Spanish GP for the fifth time in a row to extend his advantage at the top of the drivers' championship! Mercedes got the strategy right and that proved to be the deciding factor. Verstappen in second.
BEST OVERTAKE OF THE DAY
The most technically impressive overtake of the day came in the opening lap when Leclerc bided his time to get the better of Bottas, making the most of an overly cautious defensive move from the Finn to get around the outside into turn three. It was reminiscent of something Fernando Alonso would have produced back in the day!
BEST PIT EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
“I don't see how we're going to take this to the end,” Verstappen said over the Red Bull team radio as it became apparent that Mercedes had made the right strategic call. The Dutchman saw what was unfolding and indeed he didn’t have enough to take it to the end as Hamilton passed him with six laps remaining.
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