Sir Lewis Hamilton, the seven times world champion won the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix for a record-equalling fifth year in a row for Mercedes on Sunday.
The Briton’s 98th career victory, from his 100th pole position, was his third win in four races and sent him 14 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who clawed back a point for the fastest lap and finished second.
Hamilton and Mercedes delivered a strategic masterclass after Red Bull’s Verstappen, who finished second, seized the lead at the first corner.
The breakthrough came when Hamilton made a second pitstop with 23 laps to go, returning on fresh tyres but some 22 seconds behind his Dutch rival.
Hamilton rapidly closed the gap, defying computer predictions that he would take until the last lap, to sweep past his helpless rival with six to spare in a re-run of his epic chase of Verstappen at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix.
“Such a close start… and then after that just hunting,” said Hamilton, the first to succeed from pole this season and now a six-times winner at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
“It was a long way to come back from 20 odd seconds back but it was a good gamble, a really great strategy by the team.”
Verstappen, who pitted for fresh tyres after he had lost the lead to secure a bonus point for fastest lap, said he could see it coming.
“There was not much we could have done. They went for another stop and then I knew it was over because I was already struggling with the tyres and you could see that every lap he was getting closer and closer,” he said.