Vettel rues time lost to Bottas

Vettel rues time lost to Bottas

Vettel rues time lost to Bottas

Hamilton started on pole ahead of Vettel but it was the German who got the better start to lead into Turn One. The collision damaged the front suspensions of both cars, knocking Raikkonen off the track and forcing Verstappen to hobble back to the garage for good. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa's Williams made contact with Fernando Alonso's auto pushing the McLaren off track. Vettel took on the soft tyre, the quickest, but less durable of the three compounds available here this weekend.

Despite being in championship contention for the past three seasons alongside former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton can not remember the last time he had such a pure battle for a win.

The first round of pit stops were fascinating.

However, Mercedes' strategy decision paid off as he was able to attack Vettel, and he regained the lead on Lap 44 with a relatively straightforward pass.

Bottas managed to contain Vettel for some time, while Hamilton cut short the German's lead by around 2 seconds per lap.

Bottas still played a major part in Hamilton's win, helping to delay Vettel long enough to enable the Briton to recoup vital seconds.

Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso, starting seventh for McLaren after a troubled practice, was forced into the gravel in a tussle with Williams's Felipe Massa and dropped to 13th.

Red Bull were relying heavily on upgrades being brought to the RB13, hoping to bridge the sizeable gap between the Tilbrook team and the Mercedes and Ferrari cars.

When asked if the title battle with Vettel, whose lead was slashed to six points after Barcelona, would impact their still-cordial relationship if they kept going wheel-to-wheel on track, Hamilton said: "I don't know, it's hard to say".

However, the Mercedes was now on faster soft tyres, as compared to the mediums on the Ferrari. Vettel barely made it out of the pits with his lead intact, and thereafter came under siege from Hamilton. He finished the race less than four second behind Hamilton, and Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was nowhere close finishing a distant third.

The Australian was running behind the early top 3 towards the end of proceedings, but was bumped into the podium finishes when Valtteri Bottas retired with engine failure and had a margin on the 2 Force Indias to take his first top 3 position since Mexico in November. His team mate Esteban Ocon finished fifth and Nico Hulkenberg from Renault has finished it in sixth spot.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz came 8th, but placed 7th, ahead of Russian Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean of Haas.

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