Lewis Hamilton has praised his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas for playing his part in helping him catch and pass Sebastian Vettel to win the Spanish Grand Prix, saying he is savouring the lack of ‘tension’ between them.
Pole man Hamilton lost out to Vettel at the start of the Circuit de Catalunya race, prompting Mercedes to roll the dice on strategy and do the inverse of Ferrari with its soft and medium compounds.
With Vettel fitting the soft tyre after the first stop and Hamilton going six laps long before fitting the medium rubber, the former would find himself seven seconds ahead of his rival only to come up against a stubborn Bottas, yet to make his pit-stop.
Spending two laps behind the Finn before planting a fine ‘dummy’ pass into turn one, the delay nonetheless allowed Hamilton the chance to take four seconds out of that advantage.
When a fortuitously timed Virtual Safety Car gave Mercedes the chance to make up the rest of the margin, though Vettel held the lead after the second and final stops, Hamilton’s soft tyres would give him the performance advantage he needed to get ahead and take the win.
Coming after a disappointing weekend in Russia that left him languishing in fourth place, Hamilton says it was ‘team player’ Bottas that made the ultimate difference in his Spanish crusade.
“It’s great having a battle and fight with another team, it’s just so much more enjoyable because there’s no tension within our team. In the last race when Valtteri won I was honestly, couldn’t be happier, there wasn’t an ounce of feeling in my heart that was like ‘dammit, he won the race’ it was really, he did a great job, and it’s rare that team-mates can feel that.
“Valtteri played such a great role as a team-mate, fighting another team, it’s just a completely different feeling but it was great and I felt today as a team.
“Even with Valtteri, whilst it’s unfortunate the mechanic failure that he had, still he played an important role in the race, so it was a team effort to get the win, which is the team’s ultimate goal.”