Vettel denies Ferrari sandbagging in Spain

  • Vettel denies Ferrari sandbagging in Spain

Vettel denies Ferrari sandbagging in Spain

But it was a win his team identified as crucial to his self-belief and confidence for his title defence.

Hamilton also became the first F1 driver to finish in the points in 30 consecutive races.

Having only managed second, third and fourth place finishes before he inherited the win in Baku, Hamilton has a four-point lead over Vettel but will be buoyed how his team have the auto performing as needed at the opening of the European season.

Vettel's second pit stop will likely be the biggest point of intrigue after the race. "The best ones are sensitive and fragile", he said. "I believe our auto is very fast, we still need a bit more top speed but hopefully that will come".

"It was important for me to get back into a good position with qualifying, as it's usually a strength of mine".

"I have no idea what they've changed", said the Red Bull driver.

"For us it was not an option to stay out", Vettel said. Which drivers will be the top contenders to win this race?

Hamilton echoed the optimism coming from Wolff.

"It's taken a long time to be where I am today and he has some serious records and it's hard to beat a lot of these records that he had". I'm hoping that it's cooler and calmer tomorrow. But we still have improvements to make and performance to add to the vehicle.

"I'm almost in the groove", he added.

"I think it is going to be relatively close between the top three teams but I can't really say who is quickest".

Mercedes will be optimistic that they are getting to grips wth the issue of putting their tyres in the correct operating window that has seen them struggling for performance thus far.

The victory will be hugely pleasing and of some relief to the British driver and his team.

Raikkonen, who ran wide at Turn 1 on his first attempt and entered his final run provisionally seventh, ensured that Ferrari locked-out the second row by finishing fourth.

Mercedes held firm to their one-stop plan. "I was saying to Valtteri (Bottas) when we get to Monaco we'll be driving around with cold tires because it is not easy to get temperatures up there". "Ferrari did the opposite".

Wolff, whose cars made a single stop each and brought home a one-two, said Vettel's VSC stop did not come as a surprise given the way Red Bull had pulled off Chinese GP victory with a similar strategy earlier this year.

"It took everything to get this result", said a relieved Hamilton. However, Vettel thinks Mercedes are just getting back to "normal" as opposed to finding massive gains. The fans will have wanted more but at this stage in the season, this untroubled procession is exactly what he and Mercedes required. He needed to perform at his best, pushed to the line by Bottas who finished just four-hundredths of a second back. In a strong race for Mercedes, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas was second, with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in third. Meanwhile, Sauber driver Charles Leclerc will start 14th tomorrow, sandwiched between the Force India cars with Esteban Ocon in 13th place and Sergio Perez in 15th.