BARCELONA • Lewis Hamilton beat Valtteri Bottas in the Spanish Grand Prix yesterday to replace his teammate as world championship leader with Mercedes extending their record start to the season with a fifth 1-2 finish.
The defending five-time world champion seized the initiative at the start in Barcelona and led from lights to flag with a consummate demonstration of his speed and race craft at the Circuit de Catalunya.
It was his third win this year, the 76th of his career and his fourth in Spain following victories in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
Responding to being outpaced by Bottas in qualifying, Hamilton came home 4.074 seconds ahead of the Finn, who was second ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.
It was the 16th time that Hamilton had won a grand prix after leading every lap of the race. His triumph hoisted him back to the top of the standings with 112 points, including one for the fastest lap, ahead of Bottas on 105.
"I have to put it down to this incredible team," said Hamilton. "This is history in the making to have five 1-2s. I am very proud of that!
"It's definitely been a bit of a hard first four races. Naturally, we have a great car, but we don't always get along. I'm grateful in the race that we managed to settle our differences."
Bottas admitted that he "lost it there, at the start". "The clutch was strange - bite and release, bite and release. I've never had that before," the Finn added.
While Hamilton has been singing the praises of his "incredible" team, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has admitted that his star driver's head could be turned if Ferrari were to come a-calling.
The Austrian revealed that the team have discussed the possibility of Hamilton one day racing for Ferrari, but insisted that such a move would be "no drama".
SPANISH GRAND PRIX RESULTS
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 35min 50.443sec
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +4.074sec
3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +7.679sec
4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +9.167sec
5 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari +13.361sec
6 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull +19.576sec
7 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas +28.159sec
8 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren +32.342sec
9 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso +33.056sec
10 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas +34.641sec
OVERALL STANDINGS - DRIVERS
1 Hamilton 112pts 2 Bottas 105
3 Verstappen 66 4 Vettel 64
5 Leclerc 57.
1 Mercedes 173 2 Ferrari 99
3 Red Bull 64 4 McLaren 18
5 Racing Point 17
Hamilton, 34, has a contract with Mercedes until the end of next year, by which time he could have equalled Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's unprecedented seven titles and broken other records.
"You have to simply acknowledge that probably it's in every driver's head to drive at Ferrari one day," Wolff told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix.
"It's the most iconic, historic Formula One brand out there and I totally respect if a driver has the desire to drive at Ferrari.
"Even within the team, we have discussed it and with Lewis we have discussed it and we have agreed on the topic.
"We had the discussion when we negotiated the last contract and I think that you just have to be open-minded and understand that drivers will explore opportunities that exist and benchmark themselves."
However, Wolff said there was no suggestion at present that the Briton wanted to move.
Hamilton has won four of his titles with the German manufacturer after his first, in 2008, with McLaren.
"I think we are providing him with a car that is capable of achieving his objectives. If we continue to have a car that is performing on that level, I think there is no reason (for him) to go and we would really love him to stay," said Wolff.
"And if one day ways part, it will be very positive and each of us will try to achieve success with a different set-up. So no drama."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS