Lewis Hamilton took his 55th victory in dramatic style for the Spanish Grand Prix, after a thrilling on-track battle with title rival Sebastian Vettel.
The Ferrari driver managed to overtake Hamilton into the first corner having made use of their new start sequence, and pulled away in the first stint with the help of the clean air.
Valterri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen meanwhile all got caught up in an incident at the start when the Mercedes driver clattered the side of the Ferrari, damaging Raikkonen and Verstappen’s steering and putting them out of the race. Bottas’ race later went from bad to worse when he stopped with an engine problem, having held up Vettel towards the end of the first stint.
By this stage Vettel had already pitted for a set of Soft tyres while Hamilton went for the Mediums, and having lost a crucial three seconds to his seven second gap up front the Ferrari driver was starting to see glimpses of the silver arrow in his mirror.
The gap started the lapse between the two leaders once Bottas eventually pitted and allowed Vettel into clear air, but that suddenly changed when a Virtual Safety Car came out due to Stoffel Vandoorne’s stricken McLaren, having broken his steering rack after making contact with Felipe Massa heading into Turn 1.
Among others Mercedes elected to pit Hamilton towards the end of the Virtual Safety Car period, allowing him to emerge on the Soft tyre at the restart. Ferrari then pitted Vettel who emerged side-by-side with Hamilton into the first corner, but the Ferrari just edged ahead despite slight contact which caused Hamilton to go off track briefly.
With the pair coming up to lap traffic Vettel was able to maintain a sub second gap to Hamilton but before long they were back in the clean air. Vettel’s valiant defensive efforts were no match for the superior straight-line speed of Hamilton, who made use of the extended DRS zone to overtake the Ferrari into Turn 1 for the lead of the race.
From there Ferrari toyed with the idea of putting Vettel on a two-stop strategy, since they had a gap to Daniel Ricciardo who was running in a lonely fourth place. In the end Ferrari had to settle for second best, as Hamilton crossed the line having lapped everyone up to third place.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top five with their stunning best of the rest performance, while Nico Hulkenberg recovered from his disappointing qualifying session to finish sixth.
Pascal Wehrlein just finished seventh ahead of both Toro Rosso’s having picked up a five-second penalty due to missing the bollard at pit entry during his pit stop, which meant he had to pull out enough of a gap from Carlos Sainz who took eighth on home turf ahead of Danill Kvyat who recovered to the points from plum last on the grid.
Romain Grosjean took the final points position while Kevin Magnussen had to settle for 14th having ran for most of the race in the points, but also picked up a penalty for colliding with Kvyat at Turn 4 battling over eighth place.
After his impressive seventh place in qualifying Fernando Alonso had to settle for 12th, after getting into a tangle with Massa at the start of the race which forced him off the track at Turn 3. After attempting to undercut the aforementioned midfielders in an attempt to grab some points, it seemed Alonso was unable to recover from suspected damage picked up by his earlier excursion coupled with the lack of power in the McLaren Honda.