- Spanish GP
Hamilton holds off Rosberg to win in SpainLaurence Edmondson at Circuit de Catalunya May 11, 2014
Lewis Hamilton just managed to hold off Nico Rosberg for victory at the Spanish Grand Prix as the two Mercedes dominated the race but kept battling until the final lap.
The Story of the Race
- Shock: Mercedes lapping Kimi Raikkonen while on the same strategy was the most eye-opening moment of the entertaining final stint. Forty seconds on Red Bull was impressive enough but effectiely seeing both Ferrari's a lap down (Alonso wa just a little further up the road) shows just how far ahead Mercedes is this year..
- Shocker: Pastor Maldonado is making quite a meal of things at Lotus and he did himself no favours on the first lap, getting too wide through a kerb, and flying into Marcus Ericsson. He earned himself a penalty and another blot on his reputation.
- Best overtake: Sebastian Vettel had several during the race, with honourable mention going to his passes on Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa earlier on in the race, but his cheeky dive down the inside on Kimi Raikkonen on lap 56 edges it. The world champion seemed to catch Kimi completely unawares, diving up the inside of Turn 10, which allowed him to reel in Valtteri Bottas for a memorable fourth.
- Best lap: Although he probably needed at least one more lap to catch Hamilton, Nico Rosberg made a real fight of it in the final stint. Victory looked to be his for the taking after a great effort on lap 50 and 51, as he trimmed a second off Hamilton's lead, and set up an entertaining finish.
- Worst lap:Kevin Magnussen had a bit of a mare on his opening lap, dropping behind Vettel and then nearly taking the world champion out of the race, running wide and just missing the Red Bull on his return to the track.
- Drive of the day: He's come under fire from all corners this season but Vettel deserves all the plaudits for what he achieved, driving a spectacular final stint to reel in Raikkonen and Bottas. It was a fighting drive which should silence the critics and could have been more were it not for his pre-race penalty.
- Nate Saunders
Hamilton won by just 0.6s after seeing his lead narrow lap after lap in the final stint as Rosberg's alternative strategy nearly paid off. The race had been a dull affair for the first 58 laps, but came alive in the closing stages as a number of different strategies came to fruition ahead of the finish.
Daniel Ricciardo finished third to take the first podium of his career after being disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix at the start of the year. His position never looked in doubt once he passed Valtteri Bottas for position in the first round of pits stops, while Sebastian Vettel proved that the Red Bull was the best of the rest by hauling his RB10 from 15th on the grid to fourth at the finish.
Bottas went on to finish fifth ahead of the two Ferraris, with Fernando Alonso getting the better Kimi Raikkonen just three laps from the end. Romain Grosjean took Lotus' first points of the season in eighth ahead of the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
Hamilton and Rosberg made a clean start to settle into the lead while Bottas moved up to third and Ricciardo had to bide his time in fourth. Most of the field managed to stay out of trouble on the opening laps, but Pastor Maldonado clashed with Marcus Ericsson further down the order and was given a five-second stop-go penalty at his first pit stop.
By lap 10 the Mercedes duo had a 15-second lead over Bottas in third, with Ricciardo looking for a way past but unable to make a move stick. Vettel was the first to pit on lap 12 as he opted for a three-stop strategy and the advantage of fresh rubber over the two-stopping cars around him to allow to carve through the order. Ricciardo also pitted relatively early, even though he was planning on a two-stop strategy, and that gave him a tyre advantage over Bottas, who pitted seven laps later. It was an easy way for the Red Bull to move up a place, even though any hope of catching the Mercedes was long lost.
At the front Rosberg pitted four laps later than Hamilton and moved on to hard tyres to give him an alternative strategy to Hamilton who had stuck to the conventional choice of another set of mediums. Crucially he kept within range of Hamilton to allow him to stop for mediums at the end and still be within striking distance of the Mercedes. In the final stint he was able to take 0.4s chunks out of his team-mate's lead each lap, but despite getting within DRS range for the final two laps, he was not close enough to attempt a move.
Meanwhile, differing strategies outside of the top four started to spice up the race in the final few laps, with Vettel passing Alonso into Turn 1 as the Ferrari returned to the track after its final stop. He then picked off Raikkonen and Bottas to cement an impressive recovery drive to fourth after a nightmare weekend with reliability issues.
After putting up a fight, Raikkonen's two-stop strategy was finally beaten by Alonso three-stop on lap 64 with a competitive overtaking manoeuvre at Turn 4. To rub salt into Raikkonen's wounds he was then lapped by Hamilton and Rosberg in the final two laps, underlining the extent of Mercedes' advantage over the rest of the field.
The result has moved Hamilton ahead of Rosberg by three points in the drivers' standings, while Fernando Alonso remains third ahead of Sebastian Vettel in fourth.
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1