Lewis Hamilton won his third race of the season after an exciting tactical fight with Max Verstappen whom he overtook in the 60th of 66 laps on much fresher tyres, with Valtteri Bottas completing the podium for Mercedes.
This is Hamilton’s fifth consecutive victory in Spain and the sixth in total in this country, and it is his 98th victory in Formula 1 after winning the 100th pole position yesterday. At the same time, this is the fourth consecutive year that the same three drivers were on the podium in Spain – Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen.
Verstappen started better than Hamilton and took the inside on braking for the first turn, and although he was not next to him before braking he managed to brake much later and overtake him even though Hamilton had to avoid contact at the edge of the second corner.
Leclerc overtook Bottas from the outside of the third corner, and although Bottas remained within one second even with the help of the DRS failed to overtake the leading Ferrari driver.
Tsunoda stopped on the track outside the turn 10 due to a powertrain problem that caused a safety car to exit in the lap nine, and the race continued in the lap 11 as Stroll took advantage of the restart and overtook Alonso on braking for the turn five.
Bottas was the first to enter the pits of the leading drivers in lap 23 and replaced soft tyres with medium, and leading Verstappen followed him a lap later and also replaced soft with a medium compound.
Leclerc extended his first stint on the softs and entered the pits in lap 29, just like Hamilton who stayed five laps longer on the track than Verstappen and came back about six seconds behind him.
Start of the 2021 Spanish GP (Photo: Daimler)
Although Hamilton caught up with Verstappen in a few laps and very quickly came within a second of him, even with the help of the DRS he failed to threaten the Dutchman and Mercedes decided to change tactics and in the lap 42 called on Hamilton for a second tyre change.
Mercedes put medium tyres on Hamilton’s car again, and the world champion immediately started to set the fastest laps and catch up with his teammate Bottas, who did not make his job easier as the world champion overtook him in braking for the turn 10.
Hamilton continued to catch up with Verstappen whom Red Bull did not invite to the pits for a second time and in the 59th lap he closed the gap under a second and at the beginning of the lap 60 he overtook him in the braking for the turn one and took the lead at the Spanish GP.
Red Bull called Verstappen into the pits a lap later as Mercedes also called Bottas a few laps earlier for the Finn to drive the fastest lap and Perez drove the fastest lap of the race on soft tyres in the lap 61 as he had also taken new soft tyres a few laps earlier.
Alonso overtook Stroll in lap 60 with the help of DRS on braking for the first turn, but the Canadian regained position in the same spot a lap later and returned to 10th place while Norris managed to overtake Ocon in the fight for eighth place as the Frenchman was on a one stop strategy.
Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race on soft tyres in lap 62, 1:18.149, and scored an extra point important in the title fight, with Hamilton celebrating with a 15.8-second lead over the Dutchman.
Bottas finished third in the second Mercedes ahead of Leclerc in Ferrari who had a lonely race in fourth place while fifth was Perez in the second Red Bull who fought his way through from eighth place at the start.
Ricciardo had a good race for McLaren in sixth place ahead of Sainz in Ferrari and Norris in second McLaren who was the first driver to finish a lap behind the winner. Ocon finished ninth for Alpine after starting from fifth with a one stop strategy.
Gasly scored the last point in today’s race for AlphaTauri even though he received a five-second penalty for incorrectly positioning the car in the starting grid which he served during the first pitstop.
Stroll finished 11th for Aston Martin and Raikkonen finished 12th for Alfa Romeo to separate Stroll and Vettel while Russell finished 14th for Williams ahead of Giovinazzi and Latifi.
Alonso finished only 17th in the second Alpine ahead of the two Haas drivers who were the only drivers with two laps behind the winner.
The next race is scheduled in two weeks in Monaco.
2021 SPANISH GP RESULTS
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||66||1:33:23.521||15.841|
|5||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull/Honda||66||1:34:11.351||1:03.671|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||66||1:34:22.350||1:14.670|
|8||4||Lando Norris||McLaren/Mercedes||65||1 lap|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine/Renault||65||1 lap|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri/Honda||65||1 lap|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin/Mercedes||65||1 lap|
|12||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||65||1 lap|
|13||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin/Mercedes||65||1 lap|
|14||63||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||65||1 lap|
|15||99||A.Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||65||1 lap|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams/Mercedes||65||1 lap|
|17||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine/Renault||65||1 lap|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas/Ferrari||64||2 laps|
|19||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas/Ferrari||64||2 laps|
|22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri/Honda||6||Power unit|
Fastest lap: Max Verstappen – 1:18.149 (lap 62)
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 4/23 RACES
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||20||4||10||–||6|