Lewis Hamilton has cut the gap between him and leader, Sebastian Vettel to just six points after winning a strategic Spanish Grand Prix thriller on Sunday.
The Mercedes driver’s 55th career win was hard-fought and tense, with Ferrari’s Vettel seizing the lead from Hamilton at the start and in the hunt all the way as the tire strategies played out.
Hamilton took the checkered flag 3.4 seconds clear of the German, who did all he could to beat him with a thrilling move to pass the Briton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas that will be replayed for some time to come.
“That’s how racing should be and I loved it,” said a happy Hamilton, who raced side by side with Vettel at turn one after the German’s final pitstop.
“This is what the sport needs to be every single race…to have that close battle with him, a four times champion, is awesome,” added the triple champion.
Vettel now has 104 points to Hamilton’s 98, with a quarter of the Formula One season completed.
The Briton, who made the move stick seven laps later and then made his tyres last to the finish, had sounded strangely breathless during the race when fretting about a strategy that turned out to be spot on.
“Lewis saved the race with an incredible drive. The strategy was great, but it was the driver who won it,” said Mercedes F1’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
The win was Hamilton’s second in Barcelona and ended a run of 10 different winners in 10 years.
“I was eight seconds ahead and then…I don’t know how we managed to lose that,” said Vettel, who made the most of Hamilton’s poor start.
On an afternoon that saw the two multiple world champions in a battle of their own with the rest so far behind they might as well have been in another race, Daniel Ricciardo finished 75.8 seconds behind the winner.
Ricciardo was the only driver not lapped by the top two in a race after inheriting third, and his first podium of the year, from Bottas after the Finn’s engine expired.