Hamilton enjoying the intensity of duel with Vettel

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

Equally as important, Ferrari showed that the upgrades brought by both title contenders to Spain canceled one another out.

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

The Australian is fifth in the driver standings on 37 points while Vettel leads on 104, Hamilton has 98, Bottas has 63, Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) is fourth on 49, and Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen is sixth with 35.

For the two-time world champion, the next stop is the Indy 500, while the Formula 1 circus moves on to the iconic venue of Monte Carlo in a fortnight where Hamilton and Vettel are set to resume their battle for supremacy.

Exhausted Lewis Hamilton hailed a thrilling tussle with Sebastian Vettel after beating his title rival to the chequered flag at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Asked later about his breathlessness in the vehicle, Hamilton said it was proof how physical these (2017) cars are to drive. "We lost four seconds". The virtual safety auto was deployed and Hamilton essentially got a free pit stop.

Mercedes, instead, chose to leave Hamilton out and fitted him with Medium tyres at his stop.


Despite starting on the dirtier side of the track, Vettel drew alongside Hamilton on the long run down to turn one before hugging the inside line to take the lead.

Though they disagreed over the incident after the race, they did so with a laugh, and Vettel says the two men have a mutual respect from their love of what they do.

"The vehicle is good, the team is in great form", he said. They have been proving over and over in the last few years that they are the team to beat. "He did a better job as a driver so there is nothing we can do about it now".

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen collided with Red Bull's 2016 victor Max Verstappen and was out of the tournament whereas World Champion Fernando Alonso was forced to enter the gravel in a tussle with Williams's Felipe Massa.

"Then today we had an engine failure in the race". The Englishman said the result was just what he needed, but pointed out he was a small part of the final result. It was a very close battle and if it had gone in a different direction, it would have been different between us. "The championship is still a long way and we are already focusing on the next race at Monaco".

Despite being in championship contention for the past three seasons alongside former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton can not remember the last time he had such a pure battle for a win.

"I was surprised that when I came out we were so close", Vettel said. With this win, Hamilton has managed to cut short Vettel's championship lead from 13 to 6 points. But in between came a properly enjoyable race which highlighted how much better F1 is with a resurgent Ferrari.


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