Two-stop strategy and late overtake on Verstappen give Hamilton third win of the season in Spain

The Briton lost the lead to the Red Bull driver on the start but made it back to claim his 98th career victory

By Yuri Coghe
Mercedes’ two-stop strategy proved to be the best tire approach for the race (Photo: F1/Twitter)

Lewis Hamilton has claimed a fifth consecutive win in Barcelona and his third victory of the season in four races at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Briton, who now leads the championship by 14 points, lost the first place at the start to Max Verstappen but made it back on lap 60 of 66. Mercedes’ two-stop strategy was essential to the move and proved to be the best tire approach for the race.

Verstappen then pitted for fresh tires to set the fastest lap, finishing second. Valtteri Bottas, now third in the standings, was third.

“First, I want to acknowledge all the fans that are here. It’s great to see,” said Hamilton after the race. “I feel great… the training’s working and paying off. It was a really great strategy by the team. What a day!”

Verstappen had a 4s2 slow first top, which could have allowed Mercedes to pit Hamilton in the next lap and take the lead. However, the German team stuck to its two-stop plan A, calling the Briton to the pits on lap 29 and 42 for medium tires.

The strategy, also seen at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, proved to be the right one at the end as the seven-time world champion caught up to the Dutchman with much fresher tires and delivered a late overtake for the lead.

“There was not much we could do,” said Verstappen. “I was a bit of a sitting duck. I tried everything I could. We are not where we want to be, but compared to last year it’s a big jump for us.” Sergio Pérez took the other Red Bull car home in fifth place.

Hamilton came out third after his second stop, behind Verstappen and Bottas. The Briton lost some time when overtaking Bottas even though the team told the Finn to make way for his teammate since Hamilton was on a mission to take the win.

Charles Leclerc overtook Bottas for third at the start and ended the race fourth to repeat a season-high finish achieved in Imola. Racing at home, Carlos Sainz Jr. claimed the seventh position after overtaking former teammate Lando Norris on lap 51. Ferrari have then added 20 points to the standings and now are only five behind McLaren in the fight for third in the constructors’ championship.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo delivered a personal season-high result, finishing in sixth place for the second time this year and ahead of Norris for the first time since moving to the British team. Norris, on the other hand, finished eighth, his lowest result in 2021 so far, dropping to fourth in the standings to the detriment of Bottas.

Alpine and AlphaTauri also featured in the top 10, with French drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly finishing ninth and tenth, respectively. Gasly received a five-second penalty, which he carried on lap 20, for being out of position at the start of the race. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda faced car issues and retired early having to stop the car on turn 10, prompting a safety car to come out on lap nine.

Canadian driver Lance Stroll, eleventh, completed the race outside the points for the second time in a row after finishing in the top10 in the first two races of the season. He’s being investigated by the stewards for getting off the track when overtaking Fernando Alonso on turn 2. He made the same move on the same part of the track a lap later to take the Spaniard’s position. Alonso kept losing positions and eventually finished 17th. Stroll’s teammate Sebastian Vettel finished 13rd.

Nicholas Latifi, 16th, finished two positions behind teammate George Russell. Like Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas remain with no points in the standings. Kimi Raikkonen finished 12th, three places ahead of teammate Antonio Giovinazzi.

The Italian was the focus of one of the most different Spanish Grand Prix scenes during his first pit stop as one of his tires was not properly filled. This prompted Alfa Romeo crew members to rush in order to get new lids ready on the spot, as regulations say all four tires need to be from the same set.

Both Haas were the only cars to be lapped twice. The American team saw drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin finish 18th and 19th, respectively. Just like on this weekend’s qualifying session and some of the other races this season, the Russian driver has seen himself under fire for failing to respect blue flags.

The fifth round of the 2021 Formula 1 season at Monaco is set for the May 23 weekend.

See the full Spanish Grand Prix results below