Hamilton sees off Vettel in enthralling Barcelona battle

Posted May 20, 2017

For the two-time world champion, the next stop is the Indy 500, while the Formula 1 circus moves on to the iconic venue of Monte Carlo in a fortnight where Hamilton and Vettel are set to resume their battle for supremacy.

Up front, Vettel was 2.2 seconds clear of Hamilton at the end of the an incident-fuelled opening lap, and that is how it remained as the two championship protagonists traded times.

Spanish Grand Prix victor Hamilton sounded exhausted when communicating with his engineer via team radio, and after the race he explained that he was pushing from start to finish an attempt to regain the lead after losing it to Sebastian Vettel at the start.

"We just had a very close battle today and if it had gone a different direction, it would have been different between us", said Hamilton, who went wheel-to-wheel with the German after Vettel's final pitstop and sounded breathless at times.

"I think it was just an expression of how hard he was pushing", he said.

"It's definitely one of the favourites if not the favourite [battle] I'm having", said Hamilton. A win would then be the best Ferrari could do to minimize the points loss to Mercedes, but doing this with a driver down-and thus fewer strategy options-would prove hard.

"My start was good, I saw Lewis struggle with wheelspin, and kept looking in mirror to see if anybody else had a better start".

It was his second win in five races this year and the 55th of his career and it brought him within six points of Vettel in the title race.

"To have a close battle like that with a four-time champion is awesome".

Although improvements have been made over the course of the first five races, the team still needs to find further savings so it can start using ballast to help better balance the auto. At nearly exactly the same moment, both Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen crashed out after the Iceman was clipped by Valtteri Bottas and pushed into The Flying Dutchman.

Speaking to Sky F1, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said: "His race was pretty much gone after contact in Turn One".

His teammate Valtteri Bottas, victor of the previous round in Russian Federation, saw his race ended when his engine blew on lap 40.

"This is what the sport needs to have at every single race, and this is why I race, and what got me into racing in the beginning".

Mercedes chose to keep Hamilton out, and he immediately pumped in the fastest lap of the race and stretched his stint by an extra five laps.

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo finished a distant third for Red Bull.

"That was an epic grand prix and racing simply doesn't go more wheel to wheel", Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added.

Next up is one of the crown jewels of the F1 circuit, the Monaco Grand Prix, in two weeks.