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Lewis Hamilton roars back from early setback to cruise past title rival Verstappen and claim a record fifth successive win in Barcelona

Hamilton remains a man apart in his chosen calling, his 100th-career pole on Saturday followed by a charging drive to his fifth consecutive victory at the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday.

His third win in four rounds lifts him 14 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the world championship table.

It was the Dutchman who felt the full pulverising force of the champion’s abilities as he tried on older rubber to withstand the surge being mounted behind him. At the rate of 1.5sec a lap, sometimes more, Hamilton ate into the younger man’s advantage.

‘How far have I got to catch up?’ asked an anxious Hamilton. Race engineer Pete Bonnington told him it was 22 seconds. ‘We have done it before,’ he added, a reference to the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix where Hamilton ensnared Verstappen with three laps left.

Post-race on Sunday, Verstappen admitted he knew his fate the moment Mercedes sprung their surprise – a strategic masterstroke – by calling in Hamilton for a second stop. In fairness, Verstappen drove without blemish but his pursuer was moving ineluctably towards his gearbox.

‘I don’t see how we are going to make it to the end,’ came Verstappen’s cry.

Duly, Hamilton passed team-mate Valtteri Bottas, on a different strategy, to go second. And with six laps remaining, he swept smoothly beyond his prey in the red and blue of Red Bull, jinking left and outside of the first corner.

‘I was a sitting duck,’ said Verstappen, who finished runner-up but with the fastest lap after making a late stop once his hopes of victory had been expunged.

It was win No 98 for Hamilton. ‘There is life in the old dog yet,’ he declared 24 hours after landing his 100th pole – a landmark which led Hill to comment on Hamilton’s talent. ‘I saw Damon’s tweet and I feel so much gratitude towards him,’ said Hamilton.

Bottas did indeed finish third, with Leclerc fourth and Sergio Perez, in the other Red Bull, fifth. The Mexican is yet to get his feet under the table at his new team, something he needs to do fast if Red Bull are going to take the fight to the champions next door.

When it was all over, Hamilton perhaps played with Verstappen’s mind, saying: ‘I learnt a lot about Max today, perhaps more than all the other races put together.’

Asked if he might elaborate, Hamilton said: ‘Not particularly. I was following closely so I learnt a lot about his car and how he uses it so it was a good race in that respect.’

Now if there is one man who would like to know what the winner meant, he was sitting next to him and his name is Max Verstappen. He may wake up thinking about it.

Next up is Monaco, a fortnight down the road. As for Hamilton, he promised: ‘It is about me bringing my A-game and the team bringing their A-game week in, week out.’ Red Bull have work to do. The warnings are everywhere.

John NM
John is a web developer, Internet marketer and Editorial staff at NOUN Portal and Sportstribunal .

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