Dominant Hamilton wins in Spain, Vettel fourth

Lewis Hamilton and a dirt buggy

Coming off four straight titles in both the constructors' and drivers' championships, Mercedes had started the season by showing good pace in Australia, although it let victory escape thanks in part to an ill-timed safety vehicle that helped Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel earn the win in Melbourne.

Hamilton, however, was in cruise control, as he made his one and only trouble-free stop on lap 25.

While on the day Vettel was probably not a realistic winning chance, second place - rather than his eventual fourth placing - had been eminently achievable. Vettel offered three reasons for Ferrari's lack of performance in Spain, the second one being that with Pirelli's tyres that have been changed for this race (and the next two - Monaco and Canada).

Ferrari acted quickly to bring in Vettel as they looked to make gains with the rest of the field speed-restricted, but he was held up by Sergio Perez in the pit lane, limiting the benefits of the move and leaving the 30-year-old to miss out on the podium. Kimi [Raikkonen] had an issue with the engine [on Friday], had to change the engine and obviously then retired in the race.

"I'm really, really happy", said Hamilton. It seems that Raikkonen is yet again on the receiving end of Ferrari's bad luck. If not off to Ferrari in 2019, Haas might be eager to have the young star in their auto instead of an underperforming Grosjean. The team has a 27-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen completed the podium positions, despite damaging his front wing after crashing into the back of Sergey Sirotkin's Williams, to leave Vettel 17 points adrift of Hamilton.

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This might be down to tyres and with another outlier track in Monaco up next, we might not know for a few weeks whether Ferrari have fallen behind, relatively speaking.

Verstappen, whose season has been littered with collisions, also almost wrecked his race when he hit the rear of Canadian Lance Stroll's Williams and lost a front wing end-plate.

After a tough start to his season, Verstappen surely heaved a sigh of relief with his podium finish in Spain. "It's a good feeling". All three cars suffered heavy damage and the race was immediately brought under the control of the safety auto. The 37-year-old was sitting behind Hamilton in second on lap 26 when he experienced trouble with the auto and was subsequently overtaken by both Red Bull drivers and fell into 17th.

Kevin Magnussen claimed sixth place to underscore Haas's position as one of the leading contenders in the midfield.

Spanish driver and local hero Fernando Alonso finished seventh after a spirited drive, also pulling off the best overtaking manoeuvre of the race, when he raced past Esteban Ocon on the outside of the fast and sweeping Turn 3. His finish helped Haas jump up to 6th place with 19 points, one ahead of Force India. Charles Leclerc (Sauber), 11.

The 2018 Spanish Grand Prix further highlighted two things.

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