Montmelo, Spain: Lewis Hamilton beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to win the Spanish Grand Prix for a third consecutive year on Sunday, securing a fifth one-two finish for Mercedes to start the Formula One season.
Hamilton’s third win of the campaign let him take the championship lead by seven points over Bottas, who had entered the race with a one-point advantage.
“This is history in the making to have five one-twos,” Hamilton said about his team’s record start to 2019.
Max Verstappen was third in his Red Bull, in front of Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
It was the five-time and defending champion’s 76th career victory. Only Michael Schumacher has more with 91.
As opposed to his win here in 2017 and 2018 from pole position, Hamilton had to overtake pole-sitter Bottas. Once in front he cruised through the race’s 66 laps of the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit without a challenge.
Hamilton got the jump on Bottas off the line when Vettel leapt forward and made it three abreast going through the first corner. Vettel locked up on the turn, and Bottas, sandwiched in the middle, had to blink to avoid a possible collision as Hamilton sped clear.
Verstappen took advantage of the jousting to slip by Vettel and into third.
Ferrari was faster on this same track during two weeks of preseason testing this winter and had hoped to make up the gap by bringing in a new engine for the race.
But Mercedes was unfazed and stormed to yet another win to further demoralise their rivals. While the Mercedes pair and Verstappen zoomed away, the Ferraris joisted with each other and watched their chances to even salvage a podium spot fade away.
Leclerc overtook the slower Vettel, then Vettel hunted Leclerc down and they both lost time while Leclerc defended his spot until Ferrari finally ordered him to let Vettel past.
Bottas had shown faster speed in practice and in qualifying than Hamilton, when Bottas set a scorching track record that was a whopping 0.6 seconds faster than the Brit’s best effort.
Bottas’ chances for victory were sunk by his poor start, when his wheels appeared to spin while Hamilton immediately made up the difference from second on the grid.
“It was pretty tight (at the first curve), but I lost it at the start,” Bottas said. “I feft some strange behaviour with the clutch. I lost it there.”
Except for the race in Bahrain, when Hamilton won thanks to an implosion by Ferrari, the other four races this season have been decided in their opening meters. Bottas surged past Hamilton from the line en route to winning in the season-opening Australia GP. Hamilton did likewise to get past pole-sitting Bottas at the first turn to win in China, and Bottas defended his pole position from Hamilton starting second on the grid in his victory at Azerbaijan last round.
Hamilton, who had said that he was “too friendly” in not challenging Bottas hard enough to the first corner in Baku two weeks ago, showed little mercy once he got in front this time.
“It wasn’t a replay of Baku at least,” Hamilton said stepping onto the winner’s podium.
Mercedes’s struggling rivals will now have two weeks to try to improve before facing the labyrinth-like street circuit of Monaco.