Supreme Lewis Hamilton takes Spanish Grand Prix victory to increase championship lead

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  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • Sebastian Vettel
    Sebastian Vettel
    German racing driver in Formula 1
  • Valtteri Bottas
    Valtteri Bottas
    Finnish Formula 1 racing driver
  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver
  • Romain Grosjean
    Swiss-French racing driver
Lewis Hamilton won his second race of 2018 in Spain, extending his championship lead to 17 points - AP
Lewis Hamilton won his second race of 2018 in Spain, extending his championship lead to 17 points - AP

Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead at the summit of the Formula One championship after a crushing win at the Spanish Grand Prix while his rival Sebastian Vettel faltered to fourth.

Hamilton blasted out the blocks from pole position at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya and from there his second victory in as many rounds never appeared in doubt.

Vettel looked set to finish behind Hamilton to limit the title damage, but Ferrari's gamble to pit him for a second time backfired with Valtteri Bottas following Hamilton home to secure Mercedes' first one-two finish of the season.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen completed the podium positions, despite damaging his front wing after crashing into the back of Sergey Sirotkin's Williams, to leave Vettel 17 points adrift of Hamilton.

While there was more than a hint of fortune about Hamilton's opening victory of his championship defence in Azerbaijan a fortnight ago, the Englishman was in a class of his own on Sunday.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain - May 13, 2018 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton leads Ferrariâ - Credit: REUTERS
Lewis Hamilton made a clean start from pole to lead the field into the first corner Credit: REUTERS

Hamilton roared off his marks to retain his lead on the 200mph charge to the opening bend, while Vettel got the jump on Bottas after a gutsy move around the outside of the Mercedes.

The leading cars navigated the opening metres without drama, but the same could not be said further behind after a three-way crash was sparked by the error-prone Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean, once labelled a first-lap nutcase by Mark Webber, lost control of his Haas at Turn 3 and slid back across the track in a cloud of tyre smoke.

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg were unsighted and could do little to avoid Grosjean as they both crashed into his out-of-control car.

All three were out of the race in an instant to mark another embarrassing chapter for Grosjean after he crashed out under the safety car last time out in Baku.

A safety car leads drivers during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo in the outskirts of Barcelona on May 13, 2018 - Credit: AFP
The safety car made an appearance after a first lap incident that eliminated three drivers Credit: AFP

The safety car was deployed for six laps here to deal with the debris before Hamilton executed a masterful restart to leave Vettel for dust, and by lap 15, the Brit had already moved 6.5 seconds clear of his rival.

Vettel stopped on lap 17 for a new set of tyres, while Bottas was called in by Mercedes two laps later. Bottas had done enough on track to move back ahead of the Ferrari only for a sticky rear tyre to contribute to a slow stop and leave Vettel running ahead.

Hamilton, however, was in cruise control, as he made his one and only trouble-free stop on lap 25.

Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo were promoted to first and third respectively, with Red Bull opting to run their drivers on a longer opening stint. Ricciardo was eventually called in on lap 34, with Verstappen pitting a lap later.

Moments later the virtual safety car was then called upon as Esteban Ocon parked his Force India with an engine problem.

Third place finisher Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2018 - Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Max Verstappen had a much improved weekend, taking his first podium of the season Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Ferrari took the chance to stop Vettel for a second time in fear that his rubber would not last the course, but he was stationary for more than five seconds which allowed Bottas, who did not stop, and also Verstappen to move ahead of the Ferrari man. It was a mistake which cost the German dearly.

Verstappen then hit back of Sirotkin, but despite sustaining damage to his front wing, held off Vettel with relative ease.

Hamilton crossed the line 21 seconds clear of Bottas, with Vettel 0.7 sec behind Verstappen. Ricciardo took fifth ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso, who all finished one lap down on the mighty Hamilton.

"This is more like it," said a jubilant Hamilton as he crossed the line. "Let's keep this up."

2018 Spanish Grand Prix result
2018 Spanish Grand Prix result

4:36PM

That's it from me today - it didn't have the thrills of the last three races...

...but Lewis Hamilton won't mind. Some decent performances throughout the field but Sebastian Vettel will be a little disappointed with fourth position today. His car didn't seem to have the pace to match Hamilton. Mind you, nobody else did, either. Hamilton extends his lead to 17 points and will be favourite for the title, after a Mercedes revival. 

 Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2018 - Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Lewis Hamilton was in a class of his own in the Spanish Grand Prix Credit: GETTY IMAGES

We'll be back in just under two weeks for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton thinks the Red Bulls will be very quick around the streets of Monaco. 

4:23PM

Driver of the day?

Well, it's Lewis Hamilton, isn't it? He found the form that deserted him since Melbourne and was never troubled. Did he even lock a brake? Some creditable performances for Verstappen, Leclerc, Alonso, Sainz and Kevin Magnussen, who I'd rate as just behind Hamilton today. Shame about the opening lap incident that saw his team-mate out, though. 

4:19PM

The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain

4:16PM

Constructors' standings - McLaren down to fifth

  1. MERCEDES 153

  2. FERRARI 126

  3. RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 80

  4. RENAULT 41

  5. MCLAREN RENAULT 40

  6. HAAS FERRARI 19

  7. FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 18

  8. SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 13

  9. SAUBER FERRARI 11

  10. WILLIAMS MERCEDES 4

4:14PM

Watch the lap one chaos that took three cars out...

...that could have been much worse.  

4:13PM

Driver standings top eight - Hamilton increases his lead

  1. Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 95

  2. Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 78

  3. Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 58

  4. Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 48

  5. Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 47

  6. Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 33

  7. Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 32

  8. Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 22

4:10PM

Vettel reacts...

Yeah, because for us it was not an option to stay out. Obviously it looks different and it looks wrong but it was the right thing for us to do. As I said, I think overall we were a little bit quicker [than Verstappen] but as the laps went on we didn't have enough pace. They changed [the tyres] for here, it's hard to say how it would be without the change, I probably it think it impacted us more than the others. We need to have a look.

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Ferrari during the press conference after the qualifying for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2018 in Montmelo, Spain - Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Vettel might be disappointed with fourth position Credit: GETTY IMAGES

4:05PM

Smiles for miles

Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2018 in Montmelo - Credit: GETTY
Lewis Hamilton won his second race of 2018 in Spain Credit: GETTY

4:04PM

Provisional classification - Spanish Grand Prix

1. Hamilton

2. Bottas 

3. Verstappen 

4. Vettel 

5. Ricciardo

6. Magnussen 

7. Sainz 

8. Alonso 

9. Perez 

10. Leclerc 

11. Stroll 

12. Hartley

13. Ericsson

14. Sirotkin

OUT: Vandoorne, Ocon, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Grosjean

3:58PM

A good, solid drive from Max Verstappen, collision with Stroll aside

 Well ahead of Ricciardo for his first podium of the season after a very, very difficult few races. 

3:56PM

Verstappen reacts

The car was working really well. We just stayed close to everyone in front of us. We got the luck with Kimi retiring but the tyres were handling well and I think that gave us third position today. I think he [Bottas] was a bit too far away but I had to keep pushing because we had Sebastian behind us. 

3:55PM

Bottas reacts...

I wanted to fight for the win but as a team it's a good race. We had such a good car, the team was so reactive with the strategy. I never believed we could do a one-stop. I think as a team this weekend we've been perfect. For me, also, the wins will come. 

3:54PM

Hamilton reacts...

I couldn't have done it without this incredible team. I felt that synergy today which I hadn't been feeling all year. This is when we're going to start to continue to apply the pressure. I hope we can continue it. The fans have been incredible and I'm glad the weather stayed good. 

3:53PM

That's two in two for Mercedes and Hamilton

And their first 1-2 of the season. I think Bottas will be fairly pleased with second after getting jumped by Vettel at the start. It wasn't a thriller but it had its moments. 

Hamilton extends his championship lead even more over Vettel. His third win around this track. He can celebrate this one like he couldn't in Baku!

3:51PM

The rest...well done K-Mag and Charles Leclerc!

Vettel comes home in P4, that pit stop ultimately costing him track position. Ricciardo finishes in fifth, Magnussen takes a great sixth for Haas, Sainz and Alonso score points in their home race in P7 and P8. Perez takes ninth and Charles Leclerc scores points again for Sauber, two races in a row. 

3:49PM

LEWIS HAMILTON WINS THE 2018 SPANISH GRAND PRIX

Didn't even break a sweat. Great win. Bottas follows home in second, quite a way back and Max Verstappen takes a decent podium...

3:47PM

FINAL LAP

Any drama? It doesn't look likely. 

3:47PM

PENULTIMATE LAP - Hamilton leads from Bottas

Hamilton miles ahead at the moment. He's cruising now. He has been imperious today, Lewis at his best. Nobody has been able to get close to him from the start. 

3:46PM

3 LAPS TO GO

Vettel is falling further behind Verstappen now. Looks a nailed-on podium for the Dutchman. He needs it. 

3:45PM

Lap 62 of 66

Is Bottas fuel critical? He's being given advice by his team to lift and coast. He's seven seconds ahead of Verstappen. Strange if he is, given the long safety car period. 

3:43PM

Lap 61 of 66

Looks like the decision to pit Vettel under the VSC was a bad one, then. Sainz says he has a fuel dropout and sounds worried. Ricciardo sets a new fastest lap, nearly two seconds quicker than Hamilton. He's 20s behind Vettel ahead of him though. Nothing wrong with having a bit of fun at the end of the race. 

3:41PM

Lap 59 of 66 - top 12

1. Hamilton

2. Bottas +17s

3. Verstappen  +26s

4. Vettel +28s

5. Ricciardo +50s

6. Magnussen +1 lap

7. Sainz +1 lap

8. Alonso +1 lap

9. Perez +1 lap

10. Leclerc +1 lap

11. Stroll +1 lap

12. Ericsson +2 laps

3:40PM

Rain? Surely not...

It'll probably chuck it down stair rods after the race. 

Perez gets past Leclerc for ninth into turn one. Leclerc still 10.4s ahead of Stroll, who seems to be driving fairly well in P11.  

3:38PM

Lap 56 of 66 - Hamilton leads Bottas by 18s

Vettel unable to get within two seconds of Verstappen at the moment, despite the Red Bull's front wing damage. It's all become a bit of a Sunday drive for Lewis Hamilton out front, who has not once looked troubled today. This is the form he's been looking for all season. 

3:36PM

The only battles worth mentioning at the moment...

...are Verstappen vs Vettel.  And Leclerc vs Perez. Will we see any changes of position in the last 13 or so laps?

3:34PM

Lap 54 of 66

It's all rather settled here. I don't think anyone's tyres will expire before the end so unlikely for there to be any more pit stops. Vettel the only two-stopper in the top six, and he did that under the VSC. It's getting dark in the distance, though. Not long to go. 

3:33PM

The top five after lap 52

The top 5 - Credit: FORMULA1.COM
The top 5 Credit: FORMULA1.COM

3:31PM

Two DNFs in two for the Hulk

His team-mate Sainz is in the running for a few points in seventh at the moment.

3:30PM

Lap 50 of 66

Front wing damage not causing too much problem to Verstappen's pace. He's lapping around the pace of the leader.  Has he got enough to keep Vettel behind him? Vettel putting in fastest sectors in the final and first parts of the track now. Took 0.4s out of the Dutchman on that lap. 

3:28PM

Lap 49 of 66

Hamilton extends his lead to nearly 17s over Bottas. Vettel within 2.5 of Verstappen and lapping a little quicker. Bigger gaps throughout the field. Don't think we'll see much change of position in the next few laps, but the last five or so might be interesting...

3:25PM

Lap 48 of 66

Top 10:

1. Hamilton

2. Bottas +16s

3. Verstappen  +27s

4. Vettel +28s

5. Ricciardo +46s

6. Magnussen +73s

7. Sainz +1 lap

8. Alonso +1 lap

9. Leclerc +1 lap

10. Perez +1 lap

3:24PM

Lap 46 of 66 - Vandoorne out

"I've lost drive," he says. He parks it at the pit exit. Magnussen the next of the runners to be lapped by the leaders, despite being in sixth. Hamilton then smashes the lap record to increase his lead to over 15s. 

3:22PM

Lap 45 of 66 - Hamilton leads from Bottas

Bottas flying. His race isn't with Hamilton, though, it's with Vettel. He'll be wary of that damage on the pit straight. Not that he'll be able to see it. Vettel closing in on Verstappen's damaged Red Bull. He's nearly within a second. 

3:20PM

Lap 44 of 66 - Hamilton leads by 14.7s ahead of Bottas

Sirotkin spins for...no apparent reason. Strange. The end-plate from Verstappen's front wing detached on the main straight and it looked like Perez ran over it...

3:19PM

VERSTAPPEN RUNS INTO STROLL UNDER THE VSC!

He takes damage to his front wing. He'll surely have to stop?! He's still running in third though...looks like the damage has detached itself, fortunately for him. Doubt he'll stop now. He needed a clean weekend, too...

Damage to Max's wing - Credit: SKY SPORTS F1
Damage to Max's wing Credit: SKY SPORTS F1

3:17PM

Lap 43 of 66 - VSC ends

Vettel went onto the mediums. He will need to make his way through the field now. Alonso finally gets past Leclerc! He gave no quarter there...

3:16PM

Lap 42 of 66 - Ferrari pit Vettel under VSC

That was a slow stop. Five seconds. Vettel emerges behind Verstappen. Nobody else in the top ten comes in. Could that have cost them? It'll be hard for him to overtake around here. Curious. Another mistake?

3:15PM

From good to bad for Ocon

His race was going well until a nightmare pit stop. But it's over now. 

Ocon retires - Credit: SKY SPORTS F1
Ocon retires Credit: SKY SPORTS F1

3:14PM

Lap 40 of 66

Doesn't look like the rain will arrive...oh - Esteban Ocon's car is seen at the side of the track. No damage to his car that is visible. He has sensibly parked it close to an exit road. Shouldn't be a safety car. Looks like an engine problem. 

Virtual Safety Car deployed...will anyone pit?!

3:11PM

Lap 38 of 66 - Hamilton leads from Vettel by 12 seconds

Another driver showing some excellent defensive moves is Charles Leclerc. He's currently running well into the points, ahead of Fernando Alonso. 

3:09PM

Is Bottas one or two stopping?

His team sound like they want some feedback before they make the decision. He probably could go to the end of the race here but might be vulnerable to the Red Bulls on much fresher rubber. He's about 8s ahead of Verstappen at the moment. 

3:06PM

Lap 35 of 66 - everyone on the medium tyres

Top 10:

1. Hamilton

2. Vettel

3. Bottas

4. Verstappen

5. Ricciardo

6. Magnussen

7. Ericsson (yet to stop)

8. Sainz

9. Leclerc

10. Alonso

3:05PM

Lap 33 of 66 - Hamilton leads from Vettel and Bottas

Ricciardo stops and goes onto the medium tyres. He emerges in fifth ahead of Magnussen by a fair chunk of time - 46 seconds. Hamilton not getting too close to Verstappen here, suggeting he looks like he'll wait for the Dutchman to pit - which he then does. Hamilton retakes the lead. 

3:03PM

Lap 32 of 66

Team radio suggest that Mercedes will be two-stopping. Red Bulls looking like a one-stop race, both of them. Could be a head scratcher, this one. Vettel 11s behind Hamilton. 

3:02PM

This was very close...

3:01PM

Lap 30 of 66 - Verstappen (yet to stop) leads from Hamilton

Ericsson showing some very good defensive driving, here. Nice stuff. Are there a few spots of rain on Hamilton's on-board camera?

3:00PM

Lap 29 of 66

Where are the main battles?

Well, Vettel vs. Bottas, Sainz vs Ericsson and Alonso vs. Leclerc at the moment. Esteban Ocon had a 30 second pit stop, losing him a chunk of time. He comes out a lap down and in last on the road. Ouch. He was running fairly well until then. 

Hamilton closing in on Verstappen for the lead, the Red Bull yet to stop. 

2:58PM

Lap 28 of 66

Ericsson and Sainz getting very close into and out of the first turn there. Ericsson keeps the Renault at bay for now...

2:57PM

Kimi parks the car

2:56PM

Lap 27 of 66

A few more cars taking their stops now. Hamilton pumping in fast laps once more. He has around a 0.7 pace advantage over Vettel and Bottas behind him. Neither Red Bulls have stopped yet, though. They are first and third currently. 

2:54PM

Lap 25 of 66

Raikkonen does indeed park the car. Another slice of bad luck for the Finn. His exit doesn't greatly change the complexion of the race, though. Alonso gets past Hartley for P13. 

2:53PM

Lap 24 of 66 - RAIKKONEN OUT?

Raikkonen is told to park the car.  The problem seems terminal. Hamilton brings his car into the pits and changes to the medium tyres and splits the Red Bulls. He has tyres eight laps fresher than Vettel's. 

2:52PM

Lap 23 of 66 

Top 10:

1. Hamilton

2. Raikkonen

3. Verstappen

4. Ricciardo

5. Vettel - 1 stop

6. Bottas - 1 stop

7. Magnussen

8. Sainz

9. Ocon

10. Perez

It looks like Raikkonen is struggling. He's lost power...both Red Bulls get past. Bottas now closing in on Vettel even more - he's within a second of him now...

2:49PM

How close Bottas was to coming out second

2:48PM

Lap 21 of 66 - Bottas sets new fastest lap

Bottas now flying on the mediums! He goes 1.3s faster than Vettel on that lap and quicker than Hamilton, too. 

2:47PM

Lap 20 of 66 - Hamilton leads from Raikkonen

Bottas gets past Magnussen's Haas quite easily there. He's up into P6 now and 2.0s behind Vettel. Nobody else has stopped in the top 13 apart from Bottas and Vettel. What will Mercedes do? Will they bring Hamilton in? On current pace, probably not. He sets another fastest lap

2:45PM

Lap 18 of 66

Mercedes decide not to bring Bottas in straight away, he goes round another time. He's putting the hammer down, though and in he comes...they mirror Ferrari's strategy with the medium tyres. Where will he come out? It was a slower stop...he emerges JUST behind Vettel and Magnussen as the Ferrari takes Magnussen for P5. 

That slower stop cost Mercedes there. That should have been second...

2:42PM

Lap 17 of 66

Ferrari stop! They bring in Vettel and change him to medium tyres. That'll be one stop from them, surely? Vettel comes out...behind Magnussen. Not ideal. Could that cost them?

2:40PM

Lap 16 of 66 - Hamilton leads from Vettel and Bottas

It's definitely getting darker out there but no sign of rain. Yet. Hamilton extends his lead to 7.4 and is in a race of his own, almost. Vettel has steadied the gap to Bottas behind. 

2:38PM

Lap 14 of 66

Sadly the field is spreading out a little now. The closest fight might be between the Red Bulls.

"At this stage I feel like I've got more pace," says Daniel Ricciardo to his team...

What will the team do here? Split their strategies?

2:36PM

Lap 12 of 66

Hamilton is flying. He's nearly six (SIX) seconds ahead of Vettel now, lapping a second-per-lap quicker. Bottas nearly within DRS range of Vettel. Leclerc running well ahead of Alonso in P9. Daniel Ricciardo is now within 1.1s of Max Verstappen...I'm holding my breath. 

2:34PM

How it looked at the restart

2:33PM

Lap 11 of 66

Bottas closing in a little on Vettel now, he's within 1.3s of the Ferrari driver. 

2:32PM

Lap 9 of 66 - Hamilton leads Vettel by 3.2s

Hamilton sets fastest lap after fastest lap. His lead is now 3.26s over Vettel. Stoffel Vandoorne, meanwhile, gets a five second time penalty for failing to go around the bollard on the inside of turn two.

2:30PM

Lap 8 of 66 - Hamilton leads Vettel by two seconds

Hamilton extends his lead to 2.0s, setting the fastest lap, over 0.7 ahead of Vettel's time. Bottas is falling behind Vettel now, too. Not one car in the top 10 within a second of another at the moment. 

2:27PM

Lap 7 of 66 - RACE RESTARTS

There's little grip out there but Hamilton gets a fairly good restart. He retains his lead. Bottas is close to Vettel into turn one and has a look but he's not close enough. Sainz and Alonso give it a go - Alonso getting ahead of Ocon around turn three. Nice one. 

2:26PM

Lap 6 of 66 - SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP

We're nearly ready to go racing again. Hamilton bunches the pack up towards the end of the lap. When will he go...?

2:25PM

Lap 6 of 66

Hamilton gets onto the team radio complaining about the clean-up operation. Nothing much has happened in the last ten minutes or so. Let's take stock: good news for Vettel to split the Mercedes. He might have a decent tow from Hamilton running into the first turn when the SC comes in. Be careful of cold tyres, though...

2:24PM

A dejected Grosjean

He won't score his first points of 2018 today. What a nightmare start to the season for him.

Romain Grosjean is out of the Spanish GP - Credit: SKY SPORTS F1
Romain Grosjean is out of the Spanish GP Credit: SKY SPORTS F1

2:22PM

A better look at Grosjean's stricken Haas

That could have been a lot nastier for the Frenchman. It could have been a front-on collision. 

2:21PM

Lap 3 of 66 - Safety Car deployed

Top 10:

1. Hamilton

2. Vettel

3. Bottas

4. Raikkonen

5. Verstappen

6. Ricciardo

7. Magnussen

8. Sainz

9. Leclerc

10. Ocon

Alonso slips into P11. Stroll is up into P12 for Williams. 

2:19PM

Grosjean spins and creates chaos

It's Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Gasly out. Here's what that looked like. 

Grosjean spins on lap one - Credit: SKY SPORTS F1
Grosjean spins on lap one Credit: SKY SPORTS F1

 Not sure you can make much out, there. Nor could some of the drivers, it seems. 

2:17PM

Lap 2 of 66 - SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED

Right, so there are a few cars who don't make it through to the second lap, there. 

Vettel was actually ahead of Bottas before turn one there. 

2:15PM

LIGHTS OUT FOR THE 2018 SPANISH GRAND PRIX 

All 20 cars take to their positions. 

It's a good getaway for Hamilton ahead of Bottas. Not a bad start for Vettel, either.  Vettel tries to go around the outside of Bottas around turn one and he does! There's contact further down the field - who is it? 

There's a huge shunt between Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean! Grosjean lost it around turn three and collects the Renault driver.  Ouch. 

The safety car has been deployed...

2:11PM

Formation lap underway

80% chance of rain, according to race control. Everyone gets away cleanly. Only a matter of a minute or so to wait until lights out. 

2:08PM

A front row start is important around here

66 laps today. 25 of the 27 winners here were from the front row. But stats don't determine today's race. Alonso is the only one of the top 10 on the less favoured supersofts. The soft tyres have been quicker for many, perversely. And they are obviously more durable. Hulkenberg and Ericsson start on the mediums. 

2:05PM

Five minutes to go...

I'm no Michael Fish but I'm going to say that rain will not affect today's race. Nico Hulkenberg agrees. A few down the grid, the German Renault driver included, might want it. Will we see a safety car decide the race again? It's unlikely around here. 

2:01PM

Around 10 minutes to go...

Will it rain? Won't it rain? It's a cluttered grid but it'll soon just be 20 drivers and their machines.

1:56PM

Hamilton after qualifying - can he take a lights to flag victory today? It might not be that easy...

"I needed this pole. I’ve not had pole for a while. It was very close but I’m very happy. I was trying to go for it in every sector. It’s important for me to get back into a good position in qualifying, it’s usually a strength of mine.

The team have been working so hard, so a huge thank you to everyone. It was a very close qualifying. Ferrari looked to be sandbagging because they could. It took everything to get this result. To get a one-two in qualifying is fantastic for the team. We’ve got a lot of work to do for tomorrow, it’ll be a tough race, but it’s a good way to start the weekend."

1:53PM

Martin Brundle's grid walk is go!

Often the highlight of the Sunday. That hasn't been the case this year, though. Martin runs into Rupert Grint, who tell us his brother races rallycross. Scott Quinell is next up and he's possibly the most enthusiastic man on the grid this season. He. Is. Pumped. 

Martin Brundle speaks to Rupert Grint - Credit: SKY SPORTS F1
Martin speaks to Rupert Grint Credit: SKY SPORTS F1

1:48PM

Rain on the way?

1:46PM

Around 25 minutes until lights out

Some things to look out for:

  • The long run to the first turn is crucial - overtaking is not all that easy here

  • Max Verstappen, just generally

  • A marginal one-stop race or a safe two-stop race?

  • The long-run pace of the Red Bulls was very strong on Friday - can they make it pay today?

Here are some Danes cheering on Kevin Magnussen. Denmark placed ninth in yesterday's Eurovision. Can Kevin Magnussen beat that?

Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and Haas F1 fans enjoy the atmosphere before the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya - Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Danes supporting their man Kevin Magnussen Credit: GETTY IMAGES

1:40PM

What Fernando Alonso said after yesterday's qualifying

“I'm happy with that, definitely P8 is a good position. P13 in the last three qualifying sessions, so definitely a step forward. Probably the downside of this position is still the gap - you know the top six they are still in another league and we need to keep chasing and closing that gap race after race.

Everything we bring to the track is delivering the expectations and the lap times we were expecting from them, so that's a positive thing, the correlation with the factory. We just need more new parts and as soon as possible. This car, let’s say, was supposed to be the Australian Grand Prix package not here at the Spanish Grand Prix. So that delay in bringing the first improvement, and not having it at the first race but here, probably put us in a difficult position in the first couple of races.

We saved them with a lot of points on Sundays, with a little bit of luck and good races, but from now on we need to push the development and bring new parts every single race.”

What can the fan favourite do today? He'll struggled to make the progress he's had on the last few Sundays but if he holds his place in eighth that won't be too bad a result.  

1:37PM

Today's circuit

The best chance of overtaking is into Turn 1. We'll see a few overtakes there today, I reckon, assisted by DRS. 

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - Credit: FORMULA1.COM
Today's track Credit: FORMULA1.COM

1:35PM

Ever seen an ultrasound on an F1 car?

No, nor had I until about 15 minutes ago. These brain boxes will come up with anything!

Mercedes use ultrasound to check a front wing - Credit: SKY SPORTS F1
Mercedes use ultrasound to check a front wing Credit: SKY SPORTS F1

 

1:31PM

Sky Sports pundits picks

Who is your pick? I am going for Valtteri Bottas again because, well, he deserves a win. 

Sky Sports pundits pick their winners for today's race - Credit: SKY SPORTS F1
Sky Sports pundits picks Credit: SKY SPORTS F1

1:28PM

Woeful Williams

For any true fan of Formula One it has been hard to watch Williams faltering as the slowest car on the grid. Whilst they enjoyed a relative revival in Baku, scoring their first points with Lance Stroll's eighth, it is a long way from their back-to-back third places in the constructors' championship in 2014 and 2015. And even further from their 80s and 90s glory days. 

On raw pace alone, the team are further from the front than they have been this season and, worryingly, the biggest performance gap across the field was between them and Sauber. On a track like Barcelona, where the teams do an awful lot of testing, that has to be concerning for the rest of the season. 

1:22PM

Today's grid - top 10

Today's top 10 on the grid - Credit: FIA.COM
Today's top 10 on the grid Credit: FIA.COM

1:21PM

Today's grid - bottom 10

Today's bottom 10 on the grid - Credit: FIA.COM
Today's bottom 10 on the grid Credit: FIA.COM

1:17PM

Oliver Brown's qualifying report

On a day that Lewis Hamilton obliterated the Barcelona track record not once but twice en route to a record-extending 74th pole position, the world champion could hardly hide his frustration at the prospect of Formula One cars lapping up to one-and-a-half seconds slower from next season.

Read Oliver Brown's report from qualifying.  

1:15PM

Hartley bins it at turn nine in final practice

This was a fairly big one. He scored his first points in Baku but he didn't manage to complete a representative lap in qualifying there either. He's a WEC champion and an experienced driver but he's making too many costly errors so far this season. Thankfully he was okay, though. The Toro Rosso had half-decent pace so working his way up the field isn't impossible. 

1:08PM

Today's weather...

There is a chance of some rain. There was a fair bit of rain overnight. 

The weather for today's race - a chance of rain - Credit: YR.NO
The weather for today's race Credit: YR.NO

1:03PM

Qualifying in 60 seconds...

Not quite pole in 60 seconds for Lewis Hamilton. More pole in just over 76 seconds. Not bad, though. Anyway, here's a minute of yesterday's action.

12:47PM

Hello and welcome to our 2018 Spanish Grand Prix liveblog!

Lewis Hamilton starts in first for today's race, breaking the run of poles that Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel had in Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan. His pole lap of 1.16.173 was a new track record, as we are accustomed to seeing in 2018. He lines up alongside team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was just 0.040s behind him. The Ferraris start directly behind them, in P3 and P4 with Vettel ahead and the Red Bulls in P5 and P6, with Max Verstappen two-thousandths of a second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton takes a selfie after taking the pole position in the qualifying session at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo in the outskirts of Barcelona on May 12, 2018 - Credit: AFP
Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole since Melbourne Credit: AFP

It was a slightly unpredictable session in all, Ferrari surprising with their pace in Q1 and Q2 but Mercedes and Hamilton finding the time when they needed it. Further down the grid, McLaren's upgrades seemed to work well around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Fernando Alonso putting his car into Q3 for the first time this year in P8. 

Haas seemed to recover some of their early season form here, Kevin Magnussen doing an excellent job in Q3, which was enough for P7 in the best-of-the-rest position. Romain Grosjean in the other Haas also made it into Q3, but he starts in tenth. 

Both Williams drivers struggled for pace like never before, finishing in P18 and P19. Only Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso starts behind them after a huge crash in final practice meant his car was unable to take part in qualifying. 

Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Williams Martini Racing FW41 Mercedes crashes during qualifying for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2018 - Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Lance Stroll had a miserable qualifying on Saturday Credit: GETTY IMAGES

As has been the case so often this year,  the start will be crucial. It's a long run down to Turn 1, so a good getaway offers significant gains. If a Ferrari can get between the Mercedes cars or a Red Bull can move between the Ferraris - or further ahead - then we could be in for some interesting strategical decisions. The Red Bulls starting alongside each other could lead to some fireworks, too, though Verstappen would be wise to not take any big risks. 

The long-run pace of the Red Bulls looked very strong on Friday, so we will see if they can make this work to their advantage today. We've seen quite a big difference in how cars and indeed drivers treat their tyres this season and the circuit has been resurfaced since last year's Grand Prix, too. We also had some overnight rain, which will have washed away a lot of the rubber...

It might not have the chaos of Baku but we could be in for an intriguing afternoon. We'll be here for the next few hours with all the build-up, live updates, reaction and analysis. The race begins at 2.10pm BST. 

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