Hamilton delights in Spanish victory

Hamilton would be on the faster soft tyres and Vettel on mediums.

Hamilton recovered from losing the lead to Vettel at the start by reclaiming first place on track in a final-stint battle that included the pair banging wheels.

"If he had hit me in Turn One and I didn't finish and he won the race, it would not have been "great job, Sebastian", said Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver came out on top after a race-long battle with Vettel, which included a flashpoint when they made slight contact at Turn 1 after Vettel emerged from the pits on the inside of Hamilton.

"As I said, I didn't say anything bad, just be careful that it was very very very close but I enjoyed it and I was glad I was able to afterwards to have a battle, without any damage nothing lost between the two". "Outside the track we are not best friends, I have known him for a long time but I don't have a problem with him".

Despite not winning a race since, Verstappen came very close past year with four more runner-up finishes. (Lewis and I are) not best friends but we have a very strong connection. It was really close, I faked it on the inside, went back on the outside and then on the inside to surprise him which worked but I almost lost the auto doing that because I had the DRS open and it was quite an aggressive move on the steering wheel.

It was Hamilton's second win of the season, and cuts Vettel's lead to six points as the big two pull clear of the pack in what's looking to be a dramatic fight for the 2017 championship.

Daniel Ricciardo scored a first podium finish of the season, but the fact that the Red Bull was over a minute and a quarter behind the lead two drivers takes a bit of the shine away from the result.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen collided with Red Bull's 2016 victor Max Verstappen and was out of the tournament whereas World Champion Fernando Alonso was forced to enter the gravel in a tussle with Williams's Felipe Massa. It was the three-time world champion's 55th career victory and his second at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after first winning here in 2014.

Vettel said: "We're still here so..."

"If we had had the same tires on, it probably wouldn't have been as exciting" Hamilton said. This is what the sport needs to be every single race and this is why I race and what got me into racing. Nevertheless, the Spanish GP was the first race this season that he actually completed. For now we take what we can and it's nice to be up on the podium. He threw Bottas a dummy before taking to the grass on the 200mph run down to turn one and edging his way past for the lead of the race once more.

And his participation in the Indianapolis 500 rather than at the Monaco Grand Prix in a fortnight will no doubt be a welcome distraction.

  • Julie Sanders