Lewis Hamilton has won the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix, with some great racing and clever tactics conspiring to leave Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel as the runner-up.
One of the main issues that Hamilton and his Mercedes team have been trying to work out since the start of the 2017 Formula One season is the weight of its W08 challenger as they have been struggling to get near the 728kg weight limit for auto and driver. The Mercedes driver crossed the line 3.4 seconds clear of Vettel, while his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who won the last race in Russian Federation (his first ever win), had to retire after his engine gave up on Lap 38.
Hamilton moved to within six points of his title rival after beating the Ferrari driver to victory following a scintillating tussle between the two championship protagonists in Barcelona on Sunday.
He said: "It was the rawest fight I can remember having for some time, which I loved".
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished P2 in Sunday's race, and says the time lost racing Valtteri Bottas played a part in him eventually losing out to victor Lewis Hamilton. "I just really have to congratulate and thank my team. Sebastian was very fast but the team did a great job with the strategy".
A notable finish outside the points-scoring positions was Fernando Alonso whose McLaren-Honda allowed him to finish a race for the 1st time this year in 12th place.
The Australian said: "I'm happy to be back on the podium today, it's the first one of the season for me which is nice but actually the race was quite a lonely one".More news: US households owe record amount, topping pre-recession peak
It was not all good news for Mercedes, though, as a crash sparked by Valtteri Bottas resulted in the retirements of Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen after just one corner. Ferrari is close behind with 153 points and Red Bull is a distant third with 72 points.
"I was really happy, but then I looked down and (saw) I'd lost an bad lot of time, so I wasn't that happy because the real fight was with Lewis", Vettel said. Hamilton was pushed slightly off track but the British driver kept composure and finally managed to overtake Vettel on the main straight using DRS on Lap 44. Vettel eventually got by on a third try, but by then Hamilton had pulled back some valuable seconds.
Those seconds meant that when Vettel emerged from a second pit stop he was neck-and-neck with a hard-charging Hamilton.
Bottas was then reduced to playing a supporting role for Hamilton's bid to win on an alternative strategy. Otherwise, Verstappen has shown evidence of being the best driver outside the top four drivers for Mercedes and Ferrari.
The battle was evened out later on when Bottas' engine caught on fire, but not before he had successfully blocked Vettel for several laps after the latter's initial pit stop.
"An unfortunate start to the race which ultimately finished it also", Verstappen said. "I was doing what I could to stay in front, but as soon as I was alone he just flew past".
Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished 3rd for Red Bull, more than a min behind the leaders, ahead of Sergio Perez and his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon.