Lewis Hamilton cruises to Spain victory

Lance Stroll crashes in Q1

Lance Stroll crashes in Q1 Credit SKY SPORTS F1

"I've been racing a long time so to still have that feeling when you do have that win, and that happiness and that uplift inside (is special)", he said. That happiness and that uplift from inside that I have that feeling.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates after taking pole on Saturday. It was in stark contrast to Ferrari, whose tactics proved costly, with Sebastian Vettel's fourth place dropping him 17 points behind Hamilton in the title fight. Bottas had done enough on track to move back ahead of the Ferrari only for a sticky rear tyre to contribute to a slow stop and leave Vettel running ahead.

"I couldn't have done it without this incredibly team", Hamilton said post-race.

The decision to perform a second pit during a virtual safety vehicle period seemed like a gamble worth taking given Ferrari had been no match for Mercedes' pace.

All eyes now turn to Monaco for arguably the most iconic of the season's races on May 27.

"We couldn't make the tyres last so for us it was clear we come in again", Vettel clarified.

"It obviously looks wrong, but from the inside it was the right thing to do", he said. "Even in the end, with the fresher set, I wasn't able to attack", he added.

Though Bottas appeared comfortable in second place at the chequered flag, Toto Wolff admitted Mercedes were concerned after noticing blisters on his tyres in the last few laps. On the mediums, his Ferrari could manage only half of the number of laps (24) as Bottas (47).

Where Hamilton's victory in the previous race in Baku had required a huge element of luck as well as the misfortune of several of his rivals, in Spain the four-times world champion was dominant. They changed but they changed for everyone.

"They appear to be a lot harder than a year ago", he said.

Both Ferrari men delivered sloppy first runs en route to pole position, but because of that, they should have been back on track, on the Super Softs, when their final runs commenced.

The other issue for Ferrari was their unreliability. After five races, we have a much better understanding of the vehicle, of what we need to do to get the auto working. "We came to Melbourne and our vehicle performed well and suddenly you are behind a Ferrari. It worked out for Ricciardo and Verstappen in Shanghai and this is probably what they were thinking and I fully understand why they did it".

The German, who made a good start, was second until he took an ill-judged second pit-stop, under Virtual Safety Car conditions, midway through the race, dropping two places. Luckily for Verstappen, the damage was only to his front wing endplate and didn't limit his performance too much. "When Lewis was coming behind Max (Verstappen) he had a brand-new tire, Max had a tire that had done 27 laps, and it's just so hard to overtake here". Ominously for his rivals, he said he felt the synergy between himself and the vehicle for the first time in 2018. To tell you the truth, It wasn't the most nail-biting race except for the first lap. "Hopefully, we can just work from here and score a lot of good results".

He had less success, though, when Ferrari opted to bring him in again under the virtual safety vehicle on Lap 42. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 7. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) (all one lap); 9.

Force India's Sergio Perez finished in P9 with Sauber's Charl LeClerc in P10.

Bottas was a tenth of a second faster in the morning session than Hamilton's afternoon time at the 4.6-kilometre track outside Barcelona. Unfortunately, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly were the innocent victims.

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