F1 Spanish GP: Lewis Hamilton extends his Championship lead over Red Bull rival Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton extends his F1 Championship lead over Red Bull rival Max Verstappen with his third Grand Prix win of the 2021 season in Spain

Sir Lewis Hamilton won a cat-and-mouse Spanish Grand Prix to extend his world championship advantage over Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman tried valiantly to hold off a brilliant charge from Hamilton, but his tyres were shot and his pursuer too relentless, and he succumbed at the start of the 60th of 66 laps.

Hamilton drove majestically to claim his third win from four races and extend his lead in the Championship, with Verstappen second and Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas third.

Lewis Hamilton won cat-and-mouse Spanish Grand Prix with a great win over Max Verstappen

Hamilton drove majestically to claim his third win from four races and extend his lead

Hamilton drove majestically to claim his third win from four races and extend his lead

It was an unexpectedly entertaining afternoon, with the two top men on wildly different strategies.

First, Verstappen passed Hamilton at the opening corner, a bold lunge down the inside.

The two men went at it hard, Verstappen holding on to a slim lead of about a second. Then, he pitted – it was a slow stop. Hamilton stayed out longer, coming out six seconds behind Verstappen but closing fast on fresher rubber.

Then Mercedes sprung a surprise, bringing Hamilton in again. Verstappen stayed out.

It was an entertaining afternoon, with the two top men on wildly different strategies

It was an entertaining afternoon, with the two top men on wildly different strategies

Now we were into the meat of the fight – Hamilton was 23 seconds back with 21 laps to reach Verstappen and pass him. The seven-time world champion put his foot to the floor and turned the timing screens purple.

In large chunks of a 1.5sec, sometimes more, he narrowed the gap. Then he passed Bottas to go second and was right on Verstappen’s back.

The Red Bull’s tyres were shot, and Hamilton cruised past at the opening corner – the place he had been overtaken right at the start.

Charles Leclerc was fourth for Ferrari and Sergio Perez fifth for Red Bull.

Verstappen grabbed the fastest lap and the extra point that goes with it.

Relive Sportsmail’s Ieuan Ivett’s live Formula One coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix.

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Bottas receives unwanted endorsement from Red Bull chief amid doubts over his Mercedes future

Under-pressure Valtteri Bottas receives unwanted endorsement from Red Bull chief Christian Horner amid doubts over his Mercedes future

  • Valtteri Bottas is on a one-year contract and under pressure from George Russell
  • The 23-year-old Briton who excelled when filling in for Lewis Hamilton last year
  • The Finn is 37 points behind Mercedes team-mate Hamilton after three races

Valtteri Bottas has received a dreaded vote of confidence — from the boss of Mercedes’ rivals!

Bottas is on a one-year contract and is under pressure from George Russell, the 23-year-old Briton who excelled when filling in for Lewis Hamilton last year. 

As Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday, some Mercedes engineers are losing faith in the Finn, who is 37 points behind Hamilton after three races.

Mercedes are losing faith in Valtteri Bottas, who may be replaced before the end of the season

Enter Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. 

Asked if he thought Bottas could be axed mid-season, Horner said: ‘Valtteri has done a great job over the last few years. I’d be surprised if they did switch Valtteri and George around.’

A struggling Bottas would suit Horner as he tries to deny Mercedes an eighth consecutive constructors’ title. Red Bull are 18 points adrift in the standings.

The Finn is 37 points behind Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton after three races

The Finn is 37 points behind Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton after three races 

Valtteri Bottas is on a one-year contract and under pressure from George Russell (above)

Valtteri Bottas is on a one-year contract and under pressure from George Russell (above)

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