It's a heartbreaking retirement for Charles Leclerc and a controversial P7 for Sebastian Vettel in this disappointing Spanish GP.
Out and away
As the lights go out, poleman Hamilton immediately manages to capitalise on a bad start by teammate Valtteri Bottas, falling back two positions. Both Ferrari remain stable, with Leclerc in P9 only two seconds ahead of Vettel in P11. As laps go by, however, the German keeps on widening the gap: despite a chassis change, Vettel's SF1000 looks haunted as ever. Up in front, Hamilton keeps Verstappen at bay in order to favour Bottas's comeback through the ranks.
With scorching temperatures and unpredictable tyres, it is no surprise that carefully curated pit windows run the race. The first one coming in is Alex Albon, going for Hards at lap 19. Teammate Max Verstappen, however, is on a different call. Pitting from P2, the Dutchman swaps Softs for Mediums. Just one lap later, the same strategy is adopted for both Mercedes, but Verstappen manages to squeeze between them to regain P2. Lap 30 sees a bit of a squabble in the pit lane, as both Racing Point and Ferrari have to re-enter the track with insane traffic around them. Both Perez and Stroll, however, rejoin in the points, while the Prancing Horse fall back.
During lap 37, Charles Leclerc tragically spins, rejoining slowly at the end of the queue. After a sudden engine failure caused by an electrical issue, he retires the car. At the same time, a second pit window opens for both Red Bulls and many others, mostly opting for Mediums, while Bottas goes for Softs. Sebastian Vettel, running in P5 on very old Softs for the better part of the final stint, cannot make a questionable one-stop strategy work and brings it home P7 through no fault of his own.
Written by Aurora Dell'Agli