Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, triumphing at the event for the fourth straight season to extend his lead in the Formula One world championship. (More Sports News)
Ahead of the race, Mercedes had labelled Max Verstappen as favourite after his victory at Silverstone last week, with similar hot conditions expected at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
But pole-sitter Hamilton was in control throughout on Sunday and his win never looked to be in doubt as he increased his lead in the drivers' standings to 37 points.
Red Bull's Verstappen did beat Valtteri Bottas for second place in a grand prix short on drama at the front, with Racing Point duo Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez rounding out the top five.
There’s no stopping @LewisHamilton today!August 16, 2020
A dramatic start saw Bottas drop from second to fourth, as Verstappen passed him and Stroll surged up two places to third, with the Mercedes driver narrowly avoiding contact with Alex Albon and only just holding off a challenge from Perez.
Bottas remedied some of the damage by passing Stroll on lap five to regain one of his lost places, while Hamilton had built an eight-second lead over Verstappen by the time of the first pit stops.
At the scene of his first F1 win back in 2016, Verstappen had been struggling with one of his rear tyres and became increasingly agitated before pitting for mediums on lap 22, two laps before Hamilton did the same and re-emerged in the lead.
The advantage had increased beyond 10 seconds before Verstappen made his second stop on lap 42 as Bottas closed in behind him, the Finn then extending his stint by a further seven laps.
But while Bottas came back out on fresher tyres, a late challenge to Verstappen for second did not materialise as Hamilton continued to build a huge lead out front.
Teams had discussed the threat of rain appearing in the latter stages of the race but that potential drama did not arrive as Hamilton took a comfortable fourth victory of the campaign.
A late fastest lap for Bottas provided only slight consolation, as he fell further behind Hamilton and Verstappen.
HISTORY FOR HAMILTON
Hamilton has now recorded the most podiums in Formula One history, one of multiple milestones he is bidding to achieve this season.
He equalled the legendary Michael Schumacher's mark of 155 top-three finishes by coming second at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix last weekend and took outright ownership of the benchmark in Barcelona.
Also in Hamilton's sights in 2020 is the record for most grand prix wins, while his ultimate goal for the season is to equal Schumacher's total of seven world championships.
There was more woe for Ferrari when Charles Leclerc was forced to retire after an electrical issue caused his engine to cut out on lap 37.
Sebastian Vettel, who had started down in 11th, was frustrated with his team when he was asked to stay out on soft tyres rather than pit for a second time.
He did at least claim seventh place to become only the second driver after Hamilton to move past 3,000 career points.
ALBON OFF THE PACE
Vettel finished ahead of Alex Albon, whose difficult season continued as an early strategy call to move onto hard tyres while running sixth did not pay dividends.
While Verstappen continues to mix it with the Mercedes up front, Albon is still waiting for his first career podium and more often scrapping with the Racing Point, McLaren and Ferrari cars than challenging the top three.
IN THE POINTS
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +24.177s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +44.752s
4. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) + one lap
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) + one lap
6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) + one lap
7. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) + one lap
8. Alex Albon (Red Bull) + one lap
9. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) + one lap
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) + one lap
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 132
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 95
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 89
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 45
5. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) – 40
1. Mercedes – 221
2. Red Bull – 135
3. Racing Point – 63
4. McLaren – 62
5. Ferrari – 61