Logic evades Ferrari in Spanish qualifying

Mercedes dominates error-strewn FP1 in Spain			Image by Glenn Dunbar  LAT

The Mercedes ace started from pole after a breathtaking lap in qualifying and led from lights to flag in Barcelona. In a strong race for Mercedes, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas was second, with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in third.

Soon it became just one Ferrari in the hunt for a podium finish as Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire with mechanical issues.

But Ferrari's misjudgement saw Max Verstappen take advantage - despite an earlier coming together with Lance Stroll (him again) resulting in a virtual safety auto - to take his first podium of 2018 for Red Bull.

Today the vehicle and myself, I felt that synergy which I hadn't been feeling for the whole year.

Lap 11/66 We're back in full flow now and Hamilton has already built up a two second lead over Vettel.

But it's a reflection of how disappointed he's been with his form over the first four races of 2018 that today's outcome was such a relief for the four-time world champion.

"I remember like it was yesterday sitting at home playing this computer game as Michael", Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton (in white) after winning at Spanish Grand Prix. "This is what racing drivers need, results, podiums and wins, and hopefully it is the beginning of a good phase".

Only 14 of the 20 starters completed the race after a major high-speed crash on the opening lap, triggered by a spin from Frenchman Romain Grosjean's Haas vehicle, and a sequence of retirements. "I have some catching up to do overall in terms of the points, so I will be aiming to do as well as I can". This is hard to cope with and in the following races we struggled and all that adds up and was in all our minds.

Vettel's second slow stop was not helped by Sergio Perez entering the pits at the same time for Force India, but he claimed: "It was my mistake".

It was the first race since the opening event in Australia in which Mercedes were not on the back foot in the face of a faster Ferrari.

Grosjean, who struggled throughout the weekend and had crashed behind the safety vehicle in Azerbaijan, failed to stop his auto from spinning across the track on Turn 3 and Hulkenberg and Gasly could not avoid colliding with him.

It lifted the champions 17 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors' championship and, after four mediocre outings this year, boosted confidence ahead of the glamorous Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks time.

Cleanup required a safety auto, extending the streak of safety vehicle (or virtual safety car) appearances to five this season. What had looked at first sight like questionable strategy was actually, they said, just the vehicle going through its tyres quicker than others.

Vettel, clearly stung by his car's lack of pace, made no attempt to play down the potential seriousness of Ferrari's experience.

The British driver clearly felt he had exactly the auto he needed beneath him but Mercedes managed their team perfectly as well. McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne also retired because of a vehicle failure, as did Esteban Ocon with Force India.

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