Hamilton: Barcelona win a "rejuvenating experience"

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Mercedes appear to have finally hit their stride in the 2018 Formula One season after Lewis Hamilton claimed a comfortable victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo finishing fifth in Barcelona.

"If I had braked, the vehicle would have spun the same way".

"They appear to be a lot harder than previous year", he said.

This marks Verstappen's first podium of the 2018 season.

For other than the fact the victory was not inherited at the expense of others, he led an emphatic Mercedes 1-2 that loudly proclaimed "we're back!"

At the front of the race, Vettel's move on Bottas from the start line was the key move, but the main first-lap action took place behind the front-runners.

The downbeat early-season mood at Mercedes is slowly being shaken off as they take their customary position at the top of the standings.

Mercedes' auto is fast and both Hamilton and Bottas are blistering quick, but in the race Ferrari might just prove to be quicker.

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In Q3, however, the contenders for pole position did their first run on the Super Soft tyre and it was Hamilton who gave the first blow; going more than half a second faster than Vettel.

As on Friday, the champions were quickly in the groove and demonstrated more competitive speed than in practice at recent Grands Prix.

"Since getting pole in Australia for the first race, we've not had another good qualifying until today", said...

Hamilton, however, remained untroubled in the clean air out front and had 16 seconds on Bottas and 26 on Verstappen in third by lap 50.

Assessing what this victory means going forward is difficult as Barcelona has always been a strong track for Mercedes, mostly because of the use of harder tyres which suit their auto more than Ferrari and Red Bull. Ricciardo was followed by Haas" Kevin Magnussen - strengthening belief (yet again!) - that his team is the "best of the rest' and if they string a race together, a good result is possible. Grosjean was punished with a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Monaco. McLaren's Fernando Alonso provided some mid-race entertainment with a duel with Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc.

Kimi Raikkonen, in the other Ferrari, was sixth fastest in the afternoon and had to retire late because of an apparent engine problem. 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 auto for the first six laps.

Both Hulkenberg and Gasly attempted to take evasive action, but neither got away from the scene of the crash unscathed, the Renault losing its rear-left corner and Gasly being collected head-on.

Verstappen's stop nine laps later unleashed Hamilton and the Briton reeled off the remaining half of the race in a controlled fashion, to triumph at the Spanish Grand Prix for a third time.

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