In recent years, Mercedes has utterly dominated at the front, but this year Lewis Hamilton is fighting back at Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel's points lead after five races.
Pole-sitter Hamilton was overtaken by the Ferrari driver into the first turn and a fascinating tactical battle ensued. As the Mercedes driver tried to go around the outside of Turn 1, the German squeezed him, causing their tyres to touch. "We just had a very close battle today and if it had gone a different direction, it would have been different between us", said Hamilton, who went wheel-to-wheel with the German after Vettel's final pitstop and sounded breathless at times.
"I didn't want him to win, I wanted to win, so I'm not entirely happy but at the same time I have nothing to complain or moan about as he drove past us on the track and they did a better job as a team". We don't know any more than that at this stage.
"Once again fighting, hanging in there, not much missing at the end".
Equally as important, Ferrari showed that the upgrades brought by both title contenders to Spain canceled one another out.
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The duo went wheel-to-wheel after Vettel came out alongside his title rival following a second pit stop. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium places after Valtteri Bottas retired with an engine problem.
The three-time Formula One world champion claimed a second victory of 2017 in Barcelona thanks to some inspired driving and excellent strategic decisions from Mercedes. He added his hopeful 12th-place finish to the leg of Spanish ham that a fan handed him over a barbed-wire fence while he was greeting his home supporters before the race. 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 vehicle doing that because I had the DRS open and it was quite an aggressive move on the steering wheel.
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Vettel had kept his lead, but Hamilton waited for a straightaway to blow past him on his faster tires and never looked back.
"That is how racing should be", said a delighted Hamilton. The vehicle is good, the team is in great form and we know that we need to improve.
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"That's why we race". They have been proving over and over in the last few years that they are the team to beat.
It was a battle which Hamilton would ultimately win.
Every driver, 1, 2 & 3 on the Podium, was lapped during a terrific race that saw Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and last year's victor, Max Verstappen, crash out on the 1st lap. The retirements of Raikonnen and Verstappen plus Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas mean the championship is already looking like a two horse race. "I think our weekend was a bit scrappy overall but I think it's still a very, very good result".
"From Turn 1 to the end it was flat chat", said Hamilton.
When asked if the title battle with Vettel, whose lead was slashed to six points after Barcelona, would impact their still-cordial relationship if they kept going wheel-to-wheel on track, Hamilton said: "I don't know, it's hard to say. It was the rawest fight I can remember", said the triple world champion.
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"It was clear to see that as a team we didn't come out like we wanted the game, and they just protected home floor", he said. They believe Kawhi Leonard is worth 4 points, which is high praise as that is about as high a line will move.