MONTMELO, Spain — Lewis Hamilton beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to win the Spanish Grand Prix for a third consecutive year on Sunday, securing a fifth one-two finish for Mercedes to start the Formula One season.
Hamilton’s third win of the campaign let him take the championship lead by seven points over Bottas, who had entered the race with a one-point advantage.
"This is history in the making to have five one-twos," Hamilton said about his team’s record start to 2019.
It was the five-time and defending champion’s 76th career victory. Only Michael Schumacher has more with 91.
Max Verstappen was third in his Red Bull, in front of Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
As opposed to his win here in 2017 and 2018 from pole position, Hamilton had to overtake pole-sitter Bottas. Once in front he cruised through the race’s 66 laps of the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit without a challenge.
Hamilton got the jump on Bottas off the line when Vettel leapt forward and made it three abreast going through the first corner. Vettel locked up on the turn, and Bottas, sandwiched in the middle, had to blink to avoid a possible collision as Hamilton sped clear.
Verstappen took advantage of the joisting to slip by Vettel and into third, a result that moved the Belgian into a distant third place in the standings.
Verstappen is 46 points adrift of Hamilton. Vettel fell to fourth at 48 points back.
Ferrari was faster on this same track during two weeks of pre-season testing this winter and had hoped to make up the gap by bringing in a new engine for the race.
But Mercedes was unfazed and stormed to yet another win to further demoralize its rivals.
While the Mercedes pair and Verstappen zoomed away, the Ferraris joisted with each other and watched their chances to even salvage a podium spot fade away.
Leclerc overtook the slower Vettel, then Vettel hunted Leclerc down and they both lost time while Leclerc defended his spot until Ferrari finally ordered him to let Vettel past.
Bottas had shown more speed in practice and in qualifying than Hamilton, when Bottas set a scorching track record that was a whopping 0.6 seconds faster than Hamilton’s best effort.
Bottas’ chances for victory were sunk by his poor start, when his wheels appeared to spin while Hamilton immediately made up the difference from second on the grid.
"It was pretty tight (at the first curve), but I lost it at the start," Bottas said. "I feft some strange behaviour with the clutch. I lost it there."
Except for the race in Bahrain, when Hamilton won thanks to an implosion by Ferrari, the other four races this season have been decided in their opening seconds. Bottas surged past Hamilton from the line en route to winning in the season-opening Australia GP. Hamilton did likewise to get past pole-sitting Bottas at the first turn to win in China, and Bottas defended his pole position from Hamilton starting second on the grid in his victory at Azerbaijan last round.
Hamilton, who had said that he was "too friendly" in not challenging Bottas hard enough to the first corner in Baku two weeks ago, showed little mercy once he got in front this time.
"It wasn’t a replay of Baku at least," Hamilton said stepping onto the winner’s podium.
Mercedes’s struggling rivals will now have two weeks to try to improve before facing the labyrinth-like street circuit of Monaco.
Pierre Gasly of Red Bull, Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Carlos Sainz (McLaren), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Romain Grosjean (Haas) completed the top ten.
Lando Norris of McLaren and Lance Stroll’s Racing Point collided on a curve two-third through the race, knocking both out of the running. Stroll, from Montreal, is the lone Canadian on the F1 circuit.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg had to start from the pit lane because of a penalty incurred after a front wing that had to be replaced was not to the same specifications as the one the German had damaged when he went off the track in qualifying. Hulkenberg finished 13th, right behind Renault partner Daniel Ricciardo.
Antonio Giovinazzi started from last place on the grid after he incurred a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change to his Alfa Romeo. Giovinazzi finished 16th, in front of Williams pair Robert Kubica and George Russell.