Hamilton cruises to victory

Lewis Hamilton

GETTYLewis Hamilton secured the 74th pole of his career

"That's what they said, yeah, something like that", said Hamilton, sitting alongside after securing pole position for Mercedes. "Let's keep it up".

The victory means Hamilton leads the Drivers' Championship by 17 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel. "I actually heard something maybe yesterday that they've already agreed on some aerodynamic rules".

"Today I felt that synergy with the vehicle that I have not felt all year so now we have to do it again". "It's a good feeling".

While there was more than a hint of fortune about the opening victory of his title defence in Azerbaijan a fortnight ago, there could be no denying Hamilton's win here at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

It was the 64th victory of his career -- only Michael Schumacher on 91 has more -- and came from his 74th pole. "People probably think it was an easy race and I was cruising but I wasn't cruising". The others are going to be hard to beat.

The 33-year-old Briton performed a swallow dive on to his team members before describing his race.

Vettel put their drop in form down to three things: speed, tyres - referring to the change in tread depth for this specific race - and reliability.

"So that's why I'm only partly celebrating".

Danish driver Kevin Magnussen qualified seventh for Haas, ahead of Spaniards Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz for McLaren and Renault respectively. Sergio Perez took ninth in his Force India, and Sauber finished with one point, courtesy of Charles LeClerc in 10th.

His usual one lap prowess had been eclipsed by Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel in the previous three and Baku was his first win of the season. He lost time in the pits and came back onto the track behind Verstappen, and was unable to make up the difference despite the newer tires.

"We have to address the problems we have", said Vettel.

After dominating in the season opener at Melbourne but failing to win after Vettel took advantage of a late virtual safety auto, Mercedes admitted a software error had caused the miscalculation that had cost Hamilton.

Vettel won in Australia and Bahrain, while Ricciardo was first in China. One of them was Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who spun his auto following the start into Turn 1, collecting Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly, which put all three out of the race with sufficient damage. Following a safety vehicle appearance, Hamilton got the whole shot on the restart and rabbited away. When Vettel made his second stop during a late virtual safety vehicle period, after Esteban Ocon parked up his Force India by the side of the track, it backfired and he lost places instead of gaining anything.

"I'm not trying to be amusing but I genuinely have no idea what they're doing or what they've changed or what they've decided".

"Feels nice to be on the podium and nice to have a good clean race", said Verstappen.

And to add insult to injury for Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen failed to score any points after he was forced to retire following his second engine failure of the weekend.

Then Ferrari rolled the dice during the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period prompted by Esteban Ocon's Force India which stopped on the track.

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