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15 May, 2017, 01:01 | Author: Glenda Knight
  • Lewis Hamilton thanked his Mercedes engineers

Despite there being only two hours between FP3 and Q1, Vettel was the first driver to take to the Barcelona circuit in qualifying.

Ricciardo was the only driver not lapped by the top two in a race after inheriting third, and his first podium of the year, from Bottas after the Finn's engine expired. Stoffel Vandoorne, who is the only driver not to make it out of Q1 this year, was 19th fastest in the McLaren-Honda ahead of a disappointing showing from Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat in 20th. He still secured the Swiss team's first points of the season with an impressive one-stop strategy, but dropped to eighth in the final classification behind Carlos Sainz.

Valtteri Bottas struggled on his final lap in the third qualifying session but will start third on the grid alongside the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. Bottas is now in third place with 63 points.

Fernando Alonso, on McLaren, realized the big surprise of the day by signing the seventh time. Both cars were able to continue, but with Alonso dropping to 11th and Massa pitting for repairs, any hope of points was lost.

Vettel eventually cut the timing beam in 1m19.200s, half a tenth down on Hamilton, apologising to his team for the mistake.

A lap later Vettel responded by pitting from the lead for a second set of soft compound tyres, forcing Mercedes to start thinking laterally about how to regain the lead.

Vettel stopped one lap later, but emerged alongside Hamilton to lead to a fascinating on-track duel between the two leading talents of their generation.

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Indeed Hamilton will be desperate to erase his curious performance at the Sochi Autodrom, in which he toiled to fourth more than half-a-minute behind race victor Bottas, from his memory.

On the subject of Ferrari's upgrades for Barcelona, Vettel said he was happy with the development progress that the team had made.

It was his second win in five races this year and the 55th of his career and it brought him within six points of Vettel in the title race.

Williams Felipe Massa continued his consistent performance this season in Formula One as he once again managed a top ten finish. The stricken vehicle brought about a Virtual Safety auto, slowing the speed of the drivers on track and offering less of a time penalty for a pit stop relative to rivals.

"It was just the rawest fight I can remember having for some time, which I loved".

Hamilton made use of an alternative strategy to Vettel - aided by making a pitstop just before a virtual safety auto period came to an end - to get back on terms with the Ferrari, which had surged into the lead at the start.

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