While Hamilton pulled away cleanly at the start, and Vettel passed Bottas into the first corner for second place, there was carnage behind as Romain Grosjean spun his Haas in a cloud of smoke.The Frenchman then collected the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso in a major smash, fortunately without injury, that brought out the safety vehicle for the first six laps.
When racing resumed on lap 43, Hamilton led Bottas by 15 seconds. The incident was triggered by Grosjean when he lost control and spun across the track, leaving Hulkenberg and Gasly with nowhere to go. The incident brought out the safety vehicle before the midpoint of the first lap.
Aside from the first lap pile-up and a brief amount of pit-stop uncertainty, the Spanish GP was, frankly, a little bit boring. Last season they were off the pace in Monaco, with Hamilton failing to make it out of Q2 and finishing seventh after being unable to work enough heat into his tyres.
Things didn't go almost as well for many other top drivers, though, as Valtteri Botas blew a tyre in the final stages, while Red Bull teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen each failed to finish the race for the second time this season. The championship leader jumped ahead at the start of the race and was only briefly headed by Max Verstappen as the pit-stop strategies played out before the Brit regained a commanding lead. FIA's technical boss Nicholas Tombazis explained, "With this rule change, we expect to lose about 1.5 seconds maybe". Bottas ranks third with 58 points.
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Further back, Ferrari threw points and a podium away for Vettel after a slow pit stop on lap 41 under virtual safety auto conditions, which came about after Esteban Ocon's Force India ground to a halt at Turn 4. Force India's Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez were in 13th and 15th respectively.
"Is that a fact?", asked Ferrari's Vettel when being asked about the changes at a post-qualifying news conference.
Ferrari's strategy appeared curious, given that Vettel conceded track position at a circuit where it is hard to overtake, but the German claimed he was left with little alternative.
Verstappen, third, had damage to his front-wing endplate after a collision but was told to continue despite loss of down-force and did just that as Hamilton, back to his best, controlled proceedings to the chequered flag.
In the end, the Ferrari's gamble would not pay off for Sebastian Vettel and likely cost him a podium finish.
After starting the season slowly, Mercedes recorded their first win of the season when Hamilton triumphed at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix a fortnight ago and the reigning constructors' champions were dominant in Barcelona.