Spanish GP
May 07 - May 09, 2021
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Race Winner
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
1:33:07.680
2 Pits
Spanish GP
SESSIONSRESULTTIME
Free Practice 1
BOT
1:18.504
Free Practice 2
HAM
1:18.170
Free Practice 3
VER
1:17.835
Qualifying
HAM
1:16.741
Race
HAM
1:33:07.680

Hamilton fights back to beat Verstappen in Spain

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes turned in a strategic masterclass to catch and pass Max Verstappen to win the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton started from pole position but was beaten off the line by championship rival Verstappen, who led into Turn 1 with a decisive move which forced Hamilton wide.

Verstappen controlled the pace in the early stages but was the first of them to pit, on lap 24, which prompted Mercedes to extend Hamilton's first stint. He emerged from that stop behind Verstappen but pitted again on lap 44 for fresh tyres. 

With Verstappen suddenly not far enough ahead to make another pit-stop and get out ahead of Hamilton, he had no choice but to try and make it to the end on the tyres he took at that first stop. Hamilton quickly reeled Verstappen in and caught him seven laps from the finish, overtaking the Dutch driver in routine fashion. 

"In a way I could see it coming," Verstappen said of Hamilton's pass. 

"Already at the end of the softs, he was faster, then when we put on the mediums he clearly had a lot more pace, he could just stay within one second.

"So, 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 it every lap he was just getting closer and closer.

"[I was a] bit of a sitting duck."

Verstappen pitted at the end to cover second position from Hamilton's teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who finished third despite another underwhelming grand prix. Bottas dropped behind Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the start and spent the first stint of his race unable to get past. 

Curiously, at one stage during Hamilton's second stint, Bottas was asked to move over to let his teammate through but the Finn appeared to make life difficult for the reigning world champion. Hamilton was forced to pass through a tight gap at Turn 10.

The result opens Hamilton's championship lead to 14 points -- he is on 94 points to Verstappen's 80.

Bottas has moved ahead of Lando Norris for third position, but is 47 points behind his teammate already. 

JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

The nature of the fight out in front was not out of character for Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. With overtaking opportunities limited, races are often won and lost on strategy and this played out throughout the order. 

Despite losing a podium spot to Bottas, Leclerc finished an impressive fourth, ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, who spent half of his race stuck behind McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo. 

Perez eventually got the move done with a sublime overtake around the outside of Turn 1 on lap 46. 

Ricciardo finished sixth, his best performance since joining McLaren this season. 

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was seventh, having passed former McLaren teammate Lando Norris in the closing stages. Norris was given a warning for weaving while defending the position from Sainz but finished eighth, ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly. 

It was the fourth consecutive race to feature a Safety Car this season, with Yuki Tsunoda's car breaking down in the opening stages and stopping on the side of the road. 

Tsunoda was the only retirement from the race, which was largely processional.