Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Hamilton pips Bottas to top Spanish GP third practice

Hamilton pips Bottas to top Spanish GP third practice

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday by 20 seconds for his second straight Formula One victory, increasing his championship lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. "'I needed this pole - I've not had a pole in a while". I thought it would be a lot closer but I was much happier with the auto.

"It was very close in qualifying but very happy", the world champion said.

"It's important for me to get back into a good position in qualifying, it's usually a strength of mine", he acknowledged.

This was Hamilton's second pole of the season, having taken the top spot at the season-opener in Australia in March. During the pitstop phase, Bottas was able to leapfrog Vettel and secure a 1-2 for Mercedes. "This is a good way to start the weekend".

In Ferrari's favour, Mercedes has struggled at certain circuits in past years, including Monaco. "Race by race, we can understand the tyres more, which is a battle for everyone". "We have such a good vehicle".

"We got a fair beating this weekend", he said.

"I'm pleased to be back in a good position with it". The thinner tread on the rubber Pirelli have supplied this weekend in response to the blistering during testing in Barcelona certainly seems to work to their advantage and the same type of tyres will be used at the French and British grands prix.

The two Ferraris of four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, who trails Hamilton by four points in the title race, and 2007 champion Finn Kimi raikkonen were third and fourth.

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Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene has called on the team to be calm in its analysis of the performance and Vettel agrees with that approach.

After making an early pit stop on lap 19, Bottas then had to make a set of medium compound tyres last 47 laps in order to complete an unlikely one-stop strategy.

Most teams brought significant updates to Spain, which marks the beginning of the European season in F1.

"The mistake this morning was a costly one and I missed the final hour of the session because of it", Ricciardo said. "Then they put in some belters at the end. I think we have the same ones for Paul Ricard and Silverstone so we need to have a look". Low grip caused problems all around, but for none more than Haas' Romain Grosjean. "But we're not really asked". Ferrari 126, 3. Red Bull 80.

Alonso, though, was the only McLaren driver to reach the chequered flag after team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne lost drive, albeit while running outside of the points-paying positions.

There was some disquiet with the rear-view mirrors Ferrari mounted on the halos.

That changed in Spain, as the Ferrari drivers struggled to get the best out of the tyres and struggled with wear.

The 33-year-old Englishman was so thrilled by both his own personal return to form and the team's work on improving his car's performance at the Circuit de Catalunya that he suggested, after the race, that he may sign a long-term deal.

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