Hamilton's cautious optimism bodes well for defending champion

Mercedes sets the pace in practice for Spanish GP

Mercedes sets the pace in practice for Spanish GP

Shock: That so many drivers didn't set their fastest time on the super-soft tyre.

"I think today has been a rejuvenating experience", Hamilton said. Still, I think he can breakout on Sunday at a track he has some good history at.

"I couldn't have done it without this incredible team", Hamilton told the official F1 website. These guys have done such an unbelievable job.

The British driver clearly felt he had exactly the auto he needed beneath him but Mercedes managed their team perfectly as well.

Vettel got here in for the second cease beneath Digital Security Automotive (VSC) situations, the tires on his Ferrari carrying quicker than that of his closest rivals, however couldn't shut the hole quick sufficient on Verstappen, who had stayed out.

Hamilton was only four hundredths of a second faster than his team mate Valtteri Bottas, who will start alongside him on the front row for tomorrow's race. "We had problems finding the right balance of the auto and we were struggling with the front tires".

The defending Formula One world champion was at his imperious best as he won by 20 seconds from Valtteri Bottas in a welcome one-two for Mercedes.

"I said that I wanted to come win the way that I won and when I was coming across the line I was just happy that I did as I planned to".

"Our understanding of the auto and the improvements that we're making are important too". That is another positive but I think not every win doesn't feel as great as that one does. "If we're not able to see that, we're more than blind because we didn't have the pace in the first stint. The wins will come".

Cleanup required a safety vehicle, extending the streak of safety auto (or virtual safety car) appearances to five this season.

"The vehicle was working really well", he said. Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth place for Ferrari.

In recording a strong finish for Red Bull, Verstappen rounded off a good weekend.

Only 14 of the 20 starters completed the race after a major high-speed crash on the opening lap, triggered by a spin from Frenchman Romain Grosjean's Haas vehicle, and a sequence of retirements. The Haas driver collected Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg in the process.

All three retired on the spot, with Grosjean requiring precautionary medical checks due to the significance of forces in the crash.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull ahead of Dane Kevin Magnussen and his Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz of Renault and two-time champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren. Vettel offered three reasons for Ferrari's lack of performance in Spain, the second one being that with Pirelli's tyres that have been changed for this race (and the next two - Monaco and Canada).

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