Lewis Hamilton called his battle for victory in the Spanish GP the “rawest fight” he’s had for some time after he finally emerged on top.
Vettel and Hamilton have rarely fought wheel to wheel over the years, but on Sunday they came close to contact when Vettel got by at the start, and again when the German emerged from the second pit stops and just squeezed in front of his rival. Later Hamilton made a decisive pass for the lead, which he held on to.
“It has been a really good weekend, and being able to bounce back from Russia is a great thing,” said Hamilton. “But I obviously lost out on the start. I’m not quite sure exactly what it was. The initial phase was good, I just got wheel spin later on and saw Sebastian fly by. Then seeing him after that, he was so fast up ahead, it was such a push to try to keep close to him and not let him pull away.
“I don’t know, I think it was the rawest fight I can remember having for some real time, which I loved. This is what the sport needs to be every single race for sure. This is why I race and this is what got me into racing in the beginning. To have that close battle with him, with a four-time champ, is awesome. The first stint I was able to manage the tires and stay relatively close. The second stint was a little bit difficult to keep up the pace with him with the medium tire. At the end came out so close together, very, very close into Turn One.
“And then after that was just biding my time, trying to find the right opportunity. There were back markers we were coming up against, which made it fun. Trying to get past back markers is very, very tough and so clocking the DRS with the use of the battery pack and everything. But as I said, these guys have done a phenomenal job, their car is awesome and the pace that he had.
“It’s very close between us both. But at the end I was able to manage the soft. When they told me I had 25 laps I didn’t think… at the end of the stint he would come back, being on the harder tire, but I was able to manage it.”
It was a complex race in strategic terms, and Hamilton was often heard asking for information.
“I don’t know is what the overall picture is looking like, so what the engineers see of what our strategy is going to be, and so I have absolutely no idea, apart for our strategy stops, and what they tell me, I don’t know how it’s going to pan out – so all I can do is give it everything I’ve got. It was amazing when I saw at the end that we were coming out close.
“I was a bit worried that, by going long in the first stint, everything I’d worked for in the first part of the first stint, I would have lost because I think he was pulling me back in at a huge step. But anyway, I trust my engineers and my strategist and they did an incredible job.”
Hamilton said that the Mercedes update package had worked well, especially in terms of helping him look after his tires.
“I think we delivered what we thought we were bringing in – it just looks fancy. It does the job, it works well with our car. While the rules are the same the cars are fundamentally a lot different, and they [Ferrari] have been bringing upgrades to the last two races, whereas we’ve just bought one here.
“So, if they brought five pieces in the previous race and five here, we’ve brought ten here. I think we just made a similar step together. We were slightly quicker this weekend, I think, slightly had the edge. And even if it’s only half a tenth, it’s brought us a little bit… particularly in the race pace. Before I don’t think I’ve really had the pace in the race to keep up with Sebastian. I think today is a bit different – so there is an improvement.”
Source: Fox Sports