Hamilton: Vettel duel "the rawest" in recent memory

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Hamilton: Vettel duel "the rawest" in recent memory
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May 14, 2017, 2:48 PM

Lewis Hamilton says he loved having a “raw” fight for victory in Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, second place Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari in the Press Conference
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, the rest of the field as Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, runs wide after contact
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-Benz F1 W08 battle for position
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Podium: race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

The Mercedes driver came out on top after a race-long battle with Vettel, which included a flashpoint when they made slight contact at Turn 1 after Vettel emerged from the pits on the inside of Hamilton.

Hamilton made use of an alternative strategy to Vettel – aided by making a pitstop just before a virtual safety car period came to an end – to get back on terms with the Ferrari, which had surged into the lead at the start.

“Seb was so fast ahead, it was such a push to try to keep close to him and not let him pull away,” said Hamilton after the race.

“It was just the rawest fight I can remember having for some time, which I loved. This is what the sport needs to be every single race and this is why I race, what got me into racing.

“To have those close battles with him, a four-time champion, is awesome.

“In the end we came out so close together which was very, very close into Turn 1, I gave you [Vettel] space otherwise we would have touched. It was close, it was cool.

“In the heat of the moment it’s difficult to know from the outside, I felt like I ran out of road but was alongside.

“But it was how racing should be – I love it, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The final stint of the race hinged on whether Hamilton could make his soft tyres last long enough to prevent Vettel – on the harder medium compound – from fighting back late in the race.

“The team did a great job with the strategy,” said Hamilton, who repeatedly questioned the decisions from the pit wall when he was left out for a later first stop than Vettel, while being reassured that things would come back to him later on if he could keep his pace up.

“This is one of the hardest races, to keep up with him, he drove fantastically well so it’s such a privilege to race against him.

“The last stint, 25 laps, when they told me they [the tyres] had to do that I didn’t think… I thought at the end of the stint he would come back but we managed it.

“These guys [Ferrari] have done a phenomenal job, the pace they have, it is close between us.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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