Hamilton conquers Spain
Mercedes pilot stamps his authority on 2014 season after exciting battle with teammate Rosberg
He started off well and seemed to be cruising, but when his teammate turned on the pressure in an exciting final few laps, Lewis Hamilton stayed cool to win the Spanish Grand Prix for Mercedes yesterday, chalking up his fourth victory in a row to wrest the Formula 1 championship lead from a downcast Nico Rosberg.
In what was also the fourth successive Mercedes one-two, and fifth win in five races for the dominant constructors, Hamilton took the chequered flag a mere 0.6 of a second ahead of his German rival.
In a nail-biting finish to what had been a largely uneventful race, Rosberg piled pressure on Hamilton by slashing the Briton's lead over the last six laps and looming ominously in his mirrors as the Briton sounded increasingly anxious in radio traffic, but in the end held on for his first win at the Circuit de Catalunya.
A delighted, but dignified Hamilton, said that Rosberg had been the faster driver, and he won the 66-lap race thanks to advice from his team in the closing stages of a dramatic race.
"A big thank you for my team," he said, as he sat on the podium afterwards.
"They have done an incredible job this year and the support here (in Spain) is the best I have ever had, and my first win in Spain means everything to me."
Asked about his frequent questions for his race team, he said: "I was not upset, but I was not fast enough today. Nico was quicker. I struggled with the balance and needed to rely on my engineers.
"I was moving my settings up and down and fortunately I was able to keep Nico behind."
Australian Daniel Ricciardo came home third for Red Bull ahead of his teammate and defending four-time world champion, German Sebastian Vettel, who had started from 15th on the grid. For Ricciardo, it was a special moment as he claimed his first Formula 1 podium, having done so in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix before being disqualified for a fuel irregularity.
After finishing second behind Hamilton for the fourth consecutive time, Rosberg said that he felt he needed just one more lap to make a passing move on his teammate.
"I think one more lap and I could have given it a good go!" he said. "Unfortunately that was it and I am a bit gutted, but still, second place, second in the championship and many more races to go... I will go to Monaco to go one better and try and repeat the win from last year."
A beaming Ricciardo, who finished 49sec behind Hamilton, said: "We did not have the pace on Mercedes. We had a pretty comfortable third place and it is really nice to be on the podium, and I am sure I will get to keep it this time!"
Finn Valtteri Bottas finished fifth for the resurgent Williams team ahead of local hero and two-time champion, Fernando Alonso, and his Ferrari teammate, 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen of Finland.
Hamilton claimed that he had not dared dream of such a strong start to his second season with Mercedes after his unexpected decision to leave McLaren.
"Sitting down with Ross (Brawn) in my mum's house," he recalled.
"This is what the idea was, that I was given. I wasn't sure we could actually be a second faster than Red Bull, but we've managed to do it. I'm really pleased and to have our fourth 1-2 finish together is unreal." - AFP.
They have done an incredible job this year and the support here (in Spain) is the best I have ever had, and my first win in Spain means everything to me.
— Lewis Hamilton, on his team
RESULTS (TOP 10)
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1hr 41min 05.155sec
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 0.6sec behind
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 48.900
4 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:16.500
5 Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:19.000
6 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1:27.400
7 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) at 1 lap
8 Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1 lap
9 Sergio Perez (Force India) 1 lap
10 Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) 1 lap.
DRIVERS' STANDINGS (TOP 5)
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 100
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 97
3 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari 49)
4 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 45
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 39
CONSTRUCTORS' STANDINGS (TOP 5)
1 Mercedes 197
2 Red Bull 84
3 Ferrari 66
4 Force India 57
5 Williams-Mercedes 46