On a day where his championship lead was cut to 20 points, Lewis Hamilton admitted that his poor start to the Spanish GP turned the race into a damage limitation exercise.
“I had quite a poor start; it is a long time since I have had such a poor start. But I did my best to recover and I just tried to fight but this track is not very good for overtaking which is a shame. Whatever you do you just cannot get close enough. In the end it was a matter of damage limitation.” said Hamilton.
Hamilton was under immediate pressure at the start, with Sebastian Vettel taking second place and Valtteri Bottas forcing his way past, only for Hamilton to fight back through Turn 1, overtaking the Williams driver on the outside.
Hamilton spent much of his first stint behind Vettell, often within striking distance but never able to overtake.
“I fought hard but unfortunately this is track is the worst for overtaking and it's impossible to follow here. It doesn't matter what you do, you can't get close enough,” Hamilton said.
His chance to undercut Vettel during the first round of pit-stops wasn't helped by some trouble with the left rear tyre, forcing the Mercedes to be stationary for 5.8 seconds.
Hamilton enquired over the radio about changing strategy, and Mercedes obliged, putting the current championship leader on a 3 stopper. This allowed an extended period with little traffic after his second stop on lap 32. Hamilton was able to build a 23 second lead over Vettel before pitting again on lap 51, coming out well in front of the Ferrari.
Hamilton was second best to his team-mate for all the important aspects of the race-weekend and never seemed quite happy with his Mercedes.
It wasn’t bad in the race but today was a very tough day because l had to make up for a bad start and perhaps l was never able to show my true pace." he said.