Lewis Hamilton says Sebastian Vettel Spanish GP battle 'rawest I can remember'
Hamilton and Vettel go wheel to wheel in Barcelona; Briton wins Spanish GP to cut Vettel's championship lead to six points
By Jonathan Green
Last Updated: 15/05/17 7:22am
Lewis Hamilton says his battle with Sebastian Vettel at the Spanish GP was the "rawest he can remember" after overtaking the German with 22 laps remaining to claim victory.
In the battle F1 has been waiting a decade for, Hamilton and Vettel went wheel-to-wheel in Barcelona with the Briton coming out on top to claim the 55th win of his career.
In a ding-dong contest, first Vettel forced Hamilton wide at Turn One after he emerged from his second stop next to the Mercedes.
But, on the faster soft tyres, Hamilton made no mistake six laps later as he swept past the medium-shod Ferrari in the race's decisive move.
"That's why we race," Hamilton said. "It was the rawest fight I can remember."
He added to Sky F1: "I don't remember having a race like this for a long time where I was able to be on the limit as hard as I was and stay in a battle.
"It's been a long, long, long time so I used up a lot of energy and I'm looking forward to lying down after this.
"I've been racing for 24, 25 years and it feels like the first win."
Hamilton started on pole ahead of Vettel but it was the German who got the better start to lead into Turn One.
Vettel remained ahead after the first round of pit stops but Mercedes' decision to pit Hamilton a second time under the Virtual Safety Car on lap 37 proved decisive.
Vettel pitted a lap later but, back up to racing speed, three-time world champion Hamilton had made up eight seconds and the two bumped wheels as the German rejoined the track into Turn One.
Hamilton ran wide but managed to pass Vettel on lap 44 to regain the lead and go on to claim victory.
The Briton now trails Vettel by just six points in the Drivers' Championship and their fight looks set to last the season with both Mercedes' and Ferrari's updates appearing to have matched each other in terms of time gained.
Championship leader Vettel bemoaned the eight seconds he lost to Hamilton in the second stops but felt the Scuderia could not have done any more.
"It was very close when we came out. I was just guessing on the braking but there was no room for him. I don't know if we touched. It was really close," he said.
"I think our tyre choice was the right one, obviously Lewis sits behind, he has nothing to lose, there's no threat from behind so he might as well try to mirror the strategy from the first stop onwards.
"I'm here to race. Off-track I don't see why you can't have a good time. [Lewis and I are] not best friends but we have a very strong connection. We both love racing.
"On track I didn't want him to win today, I wanted to win. It didn't work, I'm not happy with that. But at the same point you have to respect if other people do a good job and drove a good race. I've nothing to moan about."
Don't miss the final word on the Spanish GP in the F1 Report on Wednesday at 8.30pm on Sky F1. Leading F1 journalist Peter Windsor joins Natalie Pinkham and Marc Priestley to look back at all the Barcelona action
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