Hamilton: Vettel fight my 'rawest' in recent memory

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo Spain Sunday

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo Spain Sunday

Lewis Hamilton roared back into serious contention for a fourth drivers' world title on Sunday when he drove to a well-judged victory for Mercedes in a dramatic Spanish Grand Prix.

Although the Brit started from pole, it wasn't an easy victory.

It was not all good news for Mercedes, though, as a crash sparked by Valtteri Bottas resulted in the retirements of Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen after just one corner.

The duo were boxed at the end of the virtual safety auto deployed after Stoffel Vandoorne's collision with Felipe Massa, meaning Vettel had mediums and Hamilton switched to softs.

It's a race that saw a thrilling dual between Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, as well as the three top teams each bring only a single driver home.

A win would then be the best Ferrari could do to minimize the points loss to Mercedes, but doing this with a driver down-and thus fewer strategy options-would prove hard.

Hamilton's out-of-breath radio communication during his Spanish GP battle with Sebastian Vettel prompted questions about how physically demanding he had found the race, to which Hamilton revealed his deliberate lack of a drinks bottle.

Both Vettel and Hamilton managed to pass Bottas before fate intervened and a virtual safety auto was deployed following an incident between Stoffel Vandoorne and Felipe Massa. The two went wheel-to-wheel, but Hamilton was forced wide and Vettel kept his place.

"I lost two kilos [in weight during the race]", Hamilton revealed, having taken the chequered flag less than four seconds clear of Vettel.

He threw Bottas a dummy before taking to the grass on the 200mph run down to turn one and edging his way past for the lead of the race once more. I didn't have any real battles and my race was more about trying to keep a rhythm and maintain concentration. The stewards noted the incident, but took no action.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo took third place at the Circuit de Catalunya, ahead of Force India pair Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

"If we had had the same tires on, it probably wouldn't have been as exciting" Hamilton said. "I don't have a drink in the auto [to save weight], so yeah I was feeling it, and that's how racing should be".

Germany's Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Renault, with compatriot Pascal Wehrlein eighth for Sauber after a five second time penalty was applied - the Swiss team's first points of the season - and Carlos Sainz seventh for Toro Rosso.

It was a battle which Hamilton would ultimately win.

"I think it was just an expression of how hard he was pushing", he said.

"He came out of the pits and I was a bit surprised that it was so close", Vettel added.

"The laps after, I was doing everything to stay ahead".

"As soon as I was alone he flew past down the straight which was a shame".

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