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Lewis Hamilton wasn’t going to be kind to his teammate this time … but he showed his big heart by dedicating his latest win to a special young fan who is battling against cancer.
World champion Hamilton blasted past pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas at the start of the Spanish Grand Prix, kept his nerve when things got tight at the first corner, and then raced away to reclaim the overall Formula One lead on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, five-time and defending champion Hamilton said he was maybe ‘too friendly’ when Bottas stayed in front after a similar grid start for the Mercedes drivers in Azerbaijan.
Hamilton hinted that he wouldn’t make that mistake again in Spain, and he got some help from a poor getaway by Bottas to overtake him in the opening metres en route to winning the race at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit for a third consecutive year.
The Mercedes pair strengthened their grip on F1 with their record-extending fifth one-two finish in as many races in 2019.
“This is history in the making to have five one-twos,” Hamilton said after his 76th career win, second only to Michael Schumacher’s 91. “It is incredible what we are achieving together and I plan on working with this team to help it become the most successful team of all time. That is my sole goal and my sole purpose.
“When the lights went out, my initial getaway was quite good and we were very close all the way down into Turn 1. I think the Ferrari was alongside us at one point too, so it was a great battle and also a decisive moment in the race.
“After that I just had to keep my head down and focus on trying to deliver each lap. I want to dedicate this win to Harry, a young kid who sent me a message today. He was my inspiration out there. He could’ve chosen any other driver, so for him in the most difficult of days to send a message like that is really humbling and much appreciated. I’m sending you love, Harry.”
Hamilton added a bonus point for the fastest lap to take a seven-point advantage over Bottas. Max Verstappen was third in his Red Bull, in front of Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton got the jump on Bottas off the line when Vettel surged forward and made it three abreast going through the first corner. Vettel locked up on the turn, and Bottas, sandwiched in the middle, had to blink to avoid a possible collision as Hamilton sped clear.
Verstappen took advantage of the jousting to slip by Vettel.
Verstappen is 46 points adrift of Hamilton in the standings. Vettel fell to fourth at 48 points back.
Bottas had shown more speed in practice and in qualifying than Hamilton, when Bottas set a scorching track record that was 0.6 seconds faster than Hamilton’s best effort. But Bottas’ chances for victory were sunk by his poor start, when his wheels appeared to spin while Hamilton immediately made up the difference.
Bottas said: “I felt some strange behaviour with the clutch. I lost it there. It is really annoying. All the hard work went out down to that.”
Except for the race in Bahrain, when Hamilton won thanks to an implosion by Ferrari, the other four races this season have been decided in their opening seconds.
Bottas surged past Hamilton from the line before winning the season-opening Australia GP. Hamilton did likewise to get past pole-sitting Bottas at the first turn to win in China, and Bottas defended his pole position from Hamilton in his victory at Azerbaijan last round.
“It wasn’t a replay of Baku at least,” Hamilton said stepping onto the winner’s podium.
Hamilton experienced first-hand what an overzealous rivalry between teammates can lead to when he and former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg knocked each other out on the first lap at the 2016 Spanish GP.
Three years later Hamilton says that he has matured and that the mild-mannered Bottas is as close as it comes to having an ideal driving partner.
″Our competition is respectful and balanced as always,” the British driver said. “I think we have the best balance of any team.”
Pierre Gasly of Red Bull, Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Carlos Sainz (McLaren), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Romain Grosjean (Haas) completed the top 10.
Lando Norris of McLaren and Lance Stroll of Racing Point failed to finish after colliding two-thirds through the race.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg had to start from the pit lane because of a penalty incurred after a replacement front wing did not meet specifications. Hulkenberg finished 13th, right behind Renault partner Daniel Ricciardo.
Antonio Giovinazzi started from last place after he incurred a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change to his Alfa Romeo. Giovinazzi finished 16th, in front of Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica.
Mercedes’ struggling rivals will now have two weeks to try to improve before the Monaco GP on May 26.
On April 29 five-year-old Harry Shaw was given one week to live after a nine-month battle against Ewing’s Sarcoma; a rare bone cancer. Despite this terminal diagnosis he’s still fighting to stay alive.
Harry’s parents, Charlotte and James, set up Harry’s Giant Pledge working with giantpledge.com and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Their aim is to raise money for research into Ewing’s Sarcoma and other childhood cancers to ensure children like Harry have a better chance of surviving.
Harry was diagnosed with cancer when a routine scan on a small lump showed a tumour the size of a large baked potato inside Harry’s right chest.
For more details, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harrysgiantpledge