LIVE COMMENTARY: 2014 SPANISH GRAND PRIX - SUNDAY - SPANISH GP
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As it happened: Sunday - Spanish GP
By Matt Beer, Andrew van Leeuwen, Edd Straw, Ben Anderson, Scott Mitchell and Dan Cross
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Hello, hola, and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live for our coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix.
It's raceday at the Circuit de Catalunya and after overnight showers and a damp start to today's first GP3 race - the sun is back out in Barcelona.
No doubt you'll be aware that qualifying was just another chapter in the Mercedes fairytale that is the 2014 season.
Yes, it was another pole for the Silver Arrows - but there are signs of a fantastic battle brewing between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton edged it to claim pole position for today's race. You can read how that happened with our comprehensive qualifying report:
Hamilton beats Rosberg to Spanish GP pole
And some news this morning, of a sort. It's actually more a quelling of the paddock rumours.
There was a bit of noise doing that rounds that NASCAR Gene Haas was set to visit Lotus' F1 factory as the American weighed up the option of purchasing the Enstone squad - or possibly Caterham - instead of building his new-for-2015 team from scratch back in the United States.
That, as AUTOSPORT's BEN ANDERSON found out, doesn't look to be the case at all:
Haas not looking to buy F1 team
Yesterday's result means Rosberg has been outqualified by Hamilton for the fourth time in five races, but the German insists that the pressure isn’t a problem mentally.
EDD STRAW heard from him a few hours after qualifying.
"Well, obviously that gives him momentum and momentum is part of the sport,” said Rosberg, who
thought he had Hamilton beaten
after his lap. "[The] mental [aspect] is part of it and that does give him momentum. That's the way it is and I just need to stay on it, stay strong – which I am – keep pushing and just try to turn it around into my favour.
But with 14 races still to come after today, Rosberg is not getting too hung up on the possibility that he will lose his championship lead in Spain.
"I am not really looking that far ahead at the moment. I'm just focused on Barcelona knowing that there is still everything to play for. Being second on the grid is actually only a small disadvantage. It's a long straight and all it takes is a bit of a better start and then I’m the guy in front."
BEN ANDERSON: "Don't expect a classic race today, like the one we had in Bahrain last month. Most drivers I spoke to are expecting to rely on strategy to move forward owing to the difficulty in overtaking on this track.
"That said, they are finding this new breed of car quite difficult to drive thanks to the downforce taken away by this year's regulations, so we could see some lairy moments and big mistakes as the tyres go off."
EDD STRAW has more on that Mercedes battle.
Hamilton is only four points behind team-mate Rosberg in the championship and victory today will give him the lead. But he is hoping for a straightforward win in the style of Malaysia or China rather than having to battle Rosberg hard as he did in Bahrain.
"I'm ready for whatever but we are going to work as hard as we can tonight to make sure that [a Bahrain style race] is not the case," he said.
"Generally this weekend I have been more comfortable with my car, Nico was struggling with the car yesterday so it was one of those days where it came towards us set-up wise. There are still things you can tweak for the race so we will just try to get it as well balanced as possible.
"I don’t plan on having a race like Barhain, but if it is then I’m ready for it."
While the Mercedes drivers continue their strong form at the front, Sebastian Vettel’s troubled season has continued so far in Spain this weekend.
The four-times world champion lost Friday’s free practice to an electrical problem, despite reverting to an older chassis as part of a "reset" on his campaign.
Then a gearbox problem ruined the final segment of his qualifying session yesterday, consigning him to a row seven start because of a penalty. BEN ANDERSON heard from the Red Bull driver.
"It's obviously tough because I don't have as much information on the car and I can't get into a rhythm having missed both practice sessions," Vettel said.
"It's not a 'nightmare' as such, as we're able to learn a lot of things, especially after pre-season testing.
"Obviously Mercedes has a big advantage and it will take time to catch up. We know that the time we are losing to them is on the straights so we have to deal with that, but it's not that easy to improve."
Of course, what the partisan Catalan crowd is here for is a certain Ferrari driver. But, as JONATHAN NOBLE explains, it's not looking spectacular for Fernando Alonso.
"Despite a podium finish in China a fortnight ago, Alonso had arrived in Spain eager to play down talk that he expected to repeat a top-three finish this time out.
"Having qualified seventh, it looks like his prediction was pretty spot on as he knows Ferrari does not yet have the performance to guarantee itself the slot as Mercedes’ closest challenger.
"He knows the mountain that Ferrari has to climb to get to the top – but with a bit of luck and some of the brilliance he has shown in the cockpit over recent years – a podium cannot be completely ruled out."
And from Alonso himself:
"It’s going to be difficult, but not impossible," he told the media on Saturday. "Starting seventh we’re on the clean side, so we need a good start, a good strategy and it's still possible.
"It is quite important if both cars; we can overtake some positions, because we need some points for the constructors.
"Force India is struggling this weekend, and we have a good opportunity, and Red Bull with Sebastian's problems, we will finish ahead of them if we can."
Here's a look at the drivers' championship with just over an hour until the race start:
1. Nico Rosberg 79
2. Lewis Hamilton 75
3. Fernando Alonso 41
4. Nico Hulkenberg 36
5. Sebastian Vettel 33
6. Daniel Ricciardo 24
7. Valtteri Bottas 24
8. Jenson Button 23
9. Kevin Magnussen 20
10. Sergio Perez 18
11. Felipe Massa 12
12. Kimi Raikkonen 11
13. Jean-Eric Vergne 4
14. Daniil Kvyat 4
And the constructors' table. Good reading for Mercedes and Force India, not so great for Red Bull, concerning for McLaren:
1. Mercedes 154
2. Red Bull 57
3. Force India 54
4. Ferrari 52
5. McLaren 43
6. Williams 36
7. Toro Rosso 8
Let's talk strategy, shall we EDD STRAW?
"This afternoon's race will be a choice between two or three stops. Three stops is reckoned to be faster in terms of pure time, but this is not the easiest circuit to overtake at even with the help of the DRS zone on start/finish.
"Running a two-stop strategy could give you an advantage in terms of track position so any team that can pull that off is likely to lean towards it.
"Whatever happens, the medium-compound Pirelli will be the favoured tyre. So expect the conventional strategy to be to start on the mediums, then either a two-stopper (medium/medium/hard) or a three-stopper (medium/medium/medium/hard) with the inevitable dissenters who try to get the slower hard out of the way earlier in the race."
If you want to catch up with all the drivers' comments on their weekend so far at a glance, head to our statistics partner FORIX:
Full Spanish GP driver quotes and data on FORIX
After the race there will also be a wealth of race information for each driver accessible from that page, including their full race laptimes and gap charts
Jean-Eric Vergne starts this race 21st thanks to a 10-place grid penalty earned when his Toro Rosso shed a wheel during Friday practice.
Since last year's accident at the German Grand Prix, when FOM cameraman Paul Allen was
struck by a wheel from Mark Webber's Red Bull
, the FIA has taken loose wheels very seriously, hence the draconian penalty.
EDD STRAW caught up with Vergne after qualifying and discovered the Frenchman, who opted not to run in Q2, remains upbeat about the race.
"We knew we didn't have the car to take pole position and be P11 so we just did Q1," said Vergne. "So we wanted to save as many tyres as possible for the race. We are going to have an aggressive race and see what we can do from here. What's important now is to maximise our chances in the race."
He is also happy that the "technical reason" for the lost wheel has been resolved and there will be no repeat of the problem in the race.
Valtteri Bottas will start from the second row of the grid for the second time this season, after delivering a stellar performance in qualifying.
The Finn had to work hard to get on the pace after again giving up his car for Williams reserve driver Felipe Nasr in first free practice. He hopes to be able to challenge for the podium today, but admits it will be tough to take the fight to Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull, says BEN ANDERSON
"It's going to be a really close race after all the Mercedes GP cars," Bottas said. "It will be a nice fight. At the moment it seems Red Bull is still quicker than us, on the long runs too.
"We know it's going to be difficult. [But] we have the advantage in straightline speed so you never know.
"We are going to aim to go forward rather than backwards. We'll do everything we can to keep the position or even gain."
It was a good qualifying for Max Chilton, who will start 17th and beat Marussia team-mate Jules Bianchi by six tenths yesterday. After an up-and-down start to the season, he credits a changed approach for the step forward.
"I've come into this weekend with a bit of a different mindset," Chilton told EDD STRAW. "I've always been confident in qualifying and in the past I know I can get good laps together. But for some reason it seems to be very rare that I do get a lap together. I get loads of corners right, but not the whole lap.
"This weekend I've come in slightly behind myself, learned the limits early – I've gone off twice this weekend, which I rarely do – and then it's much easier to get a lap together with no mistakes. I'm really happy with the lap."
Nico Hulkenberg has starred in the early races of the season, taking the fight to Fernando Alonso's Ferrari on occasion and generally being the cat among the big-team pigeons.
But the German is expecting a much tougher race for Force India in Spain, after qualifying outside the top 10 yesterday. BEN ANDERSON heard from him.
"Surely it's going to be a tough race but the midfield is relatively close together," he said.
"We didn't have the performance yesterday for the top 10. It's been a tricky weekend and quite difficult to drive the car, but we have all the chances in the world not obviously for a win or a podium but for points.
"I think everyone is struggling this weekend with the rear of the car being very loose. These long sweeping corners with 50kg more weight seems to have a significant effect here.
"It's going to be a pretty strategic race. We know overtaking is difficult here. If you run behind another car it's only going to be worse for your tyres so the start and strategy is going to be key."
Daniil Kvyat has made a great start to his grand prix career, but was unhappy with his performance in qualifying. He will start 12th following Vettel's grid penalty but made no excuses for his Saturday struggles.
"It's a disappointing day but we have to learn from it," Kvyat told EDD STRAW. "We have to realise what we could have done better and where we went wrong and then we learn from it for the next qualifying.
"We just did not have enough pace. It's a very simple answer. I'm not going to come up with a story about it!"
Everything pauses on the grid for the national anthem. Last year it rang out after the race too for a Fernand Alonso victory...
Already today at Barcelona we've had victories for a Brazilian - Williams test driver
Felipe Nasr in GP2
- and a Briton;
Dean Stoneman winning GP3
for Marussia's junior arm Manor.
Not long now until the grid is cleared here in Spain and the race gets underway.
As usual we'll keep AUTOSPORT Live running post-race for all the driver and team reaction from the paddock.
And if you want to keep an eye on the rest of the motorsport world while enjoying the grand prix, open another tab for
AUTOSPORT Race Centre
Live, where we'll be commentating on the Jari-Matti Latvala/Sebastien Ogier showdown on
, the final leg of the
European Formula 3
weekend on the stunning
Pau street circuit
in France, and race two of what's become a saturated
World Touring Car Championship
event in Slovakia, where Sebastien Loeb has just won race one.
Felipe Massa was gutted to mess up his final qualifying lap and wind up ninth on the grid instead of up inside the top six with his Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas. He expects a difficult race trying to move forward, says BEN ANDERSON, even with a potentially quicker car than those around him.
"For sure it's not good. We have a good car on the long runs so it's important not to lose any opportunity to overtake and to try to get free air," Massa said.
"It won't be easy to start ninth but we'll see. We're fighting hard with McLaren and Force India and it seems like our car is a little bit more competitive here.
"Maybe we can fight with Ferrari. Mercedes forget it, and Red Bull is a little bit faster and more consistent than us."
Massa reckons the "big difference" between the medium and hard tyres will create a "fight between two and three stops" in terms of strategy, which will be crucial today because of the difficulty in overtaking.
"You're going out of slow corners but then you have high-speed corners with a lot of lateral [force] and you cannot go very close to the car in front," he explained.
"This creates the problems to overtake. The DRS helps a bit, but before it was impossible to overtake [here]."
The mechanics are moving away from the 22 cars, we're ready to go for the formation lap.
And look out for drivers' behaviour on the formation lap, after an
earlier this weekend.
The Mercedes line up on the front row.
Hamilton leads into the first corner as Rosberg resists a big challenge from Bottas for second place.
Massive lock up from Grosjean into Turn 1 as he slots into fifth behind Ricciardo, with the battling Ferraris behind the Lotus.
Race order after lap one:
Hamilton is edging slightly clear of Rosberg immediately, opening a 1.6-second lead after two laps.
Relays show Magnussen had to take to the grass off the line after a start rather better than those around him.
He then had a near-miss with Vettel at the chicane at the end of the lap, but McLaren has reassured him that his front wing isn't damaged.
Once again Hamilton is trying to break away early with a run of new fastest laps, though Rosberg is clinging on, two seconds behind.
The non-Mercedes group cannot keep up: Bottas is five seconds down on Hamilton in third place.
Bottas's Williams has Ricciardo's Red Bull close behind and threatening, then there's a small gap to the resurgent Lotus of Grosjean.
The Ferraris of Raikkonen and Alonso, plus Massa's Williams, are shadowing Grosjean, then there's another gap to the Force India-led midfield group.
BEN ANDERSON: "The Mercs are already over a second a lap quicker than the rest, streaking away at the front of the field. Can Rosberg stay close enough to use strategy to outsmart Hamilton?"
EDD STRAW: "What we are seeing at the front now is Rosberg sitting about two seconds off Hamilton, which is the standard gap teams tend to use. Follow too closely and you lose downforce, which makes you use up your tyres much more quickly. Right now, Rosberg is biding is time in the hope that, as in stint 1 in Bahrain, Hamilton struggles with his tyres later in the stint."
Stewards are investigating contact between Ericsson and Maldonado near the back of the field.
Red Bull suggested to Ricciardo that if he couldn't overtake Bottas, he should back off and try to save the car. Ricciardo responds by getting alongside Bottas into the first corner... but he can't make it stick.
Rosberg trimmed a little back from Hamilton's advantage on lap six, with the gap now 1.9s.
The Meredes remain at least 1.5s quicker than everyone else, with Bottas now 9.7s off the lead.
Now Ricciardo decides his team's suggestion wasn't so bad and says "I'll cool it for a couple of laps."
Bottas sets a new personal best in third place, putting him a second clear of the chilling Red Bull behind. He's now 12.1s off the lead.
Kvyat makes a great move on Gutierrez to take 11th place. Brave stuff.
Jenson Button is now just 0.3s behind Gutierrez. Should be able to grab 12th soon.
Vettel through on Gutierrez as well. The Mexican is down to 14th, behind Button and Vettel.
A new fastest lap for Hamilton, 1m31.776s, bringing his lead up to 2.3s over Rosberg and 15.2s over Bottas.
BEN ANDERSON: "Already predictions of a processional race appear to be coming true. The pressure will be on the strategists and mechanics to make gains in the pits."
In the Ferrari battle, Alonso continues to sit on Raikkonen's tail in seventh. He's within DRS range but hasn't made any serious moves since lap one.
Vettel currently less than a second behind Button, and lapping quicker.
Button, meanwhile, is told by the pitwall that everything looks good for "Plan A".
Ricciardo is sneaking back up on Bottas again, now nine tenths behind the Williams.
EDD STRAW: "Mercedes will be delighted to see Bottas backing up Ricciardo. While Mercedes doesn't have to be too worried about any other cars given its pace advantage, it's always reassuring to have an even bigger cushion. This will also influence the battle between the top two because it's not going to be too long before they have a whole pit-stop's worth of advantage. Currently, Bottas is 16.7s behind Hamilton."
A personal best from Ricciardo as he gets to within six tenths of Bottas's rear wing. But a Renault-powered car passing a Mercedes-powered one is currently a tough ask.
Vettel has pitted from 13th. Takes on a set of hard tyres.
Grosjean isn't able to stay with the Bottas/Ricciardo fight, now 3.3s behind. But still great to see Lotus as high as fifth.
EDD STRAW: "Understandable move from Red Bull to bring Vettel in early and put on the hard tyres. Buried in traffic so makes sense to put him on a part of the track that is less congested so he can jump some places. Puts him out of synch, but better than being parked in the pack."
Rosberg tells Mercedes that there's no graining on the tyres so far.
The gap between the Mercedes is pretty stable, the currently 2.6s.
Magnussen has gone past Gutierrez. The Dane is now 13th, behind Button.
Ricciardo dives into the pits at the end of lap 14.
The Red Bull man sticks with the medium tyre, unlike team-mate Vettel.
Expect a hard-charging out-lap from Ricciardo now to try to jump Bottas.
Grosjean and Massa head for the pits from fifth and eighth places.
Maldonado is in the pits as well. Will need to stay still for five extra seconds.
Sure enough, Ricciardo is flying on his new tyres.
Alonso is the first of the Ferraris to come in, so is trying to leapfrog Raikkonen.
Vergne is the next to pit.
Ricciardo is storming back through the yet-to-pit traffic, with a move on Kvyat into Turn 1 bringing him up to seventh.
The gap between the Mercedes has come back down as the pitstops approach, with Rosberg now just 1.6s behind Hamilton starting lap 18.
Even while he's dodging between cars, Ricciardo is about two seconds per lap quicker than Bottas on his new tyres
Raikkonen pits, two laps later than team-mate Alonso had.
Button now pits from ninth.
Despite pitting earlier, Alonso didn't manage to jump Raikkonen in the pits, the Finn emerging just ahead still.
Although Alonso had fresh tyres, he also had a lot of traffic to deal with on his out-lap.
Hamilton is the first Mercedes to pit, coming in at the end of lap 18.
Rosberg sets a new fastest lap of 1m31.667s as he tries to make a break now he has clear air.
Kvyat and Perez have joined the list of cars to have stopped. And now Magnussen does the same.
Rosberg is still faster than the fresh-tyred Hamilton on this lap too. Is staying out longer going to pay off for the German?
Hamilton responds with a new fastest lap tough, getting the gap back down to 20.1s.
Bottas comes into the pits from third at the end of lap 20. He'll definitely lose third to Ricciardo, who had closed to just 12s behind since his pitstop.
Bottas rejoins ahead of Grosjean's Lotus, which had been closing in.
Stopping early has helped Vettel jump to ninth, clearing Hulkenberg, Perez and Button along the way.
Rosberg pits, he ran two laps longer than Hamilton. And he chooses a different strategy, taking hards now, unlike his team-mate.
Rosberg rejoins a couple of seconds behind Hamilton, but this is looking intriguing.
Jules Bianchi now in the pitlane. He pits from 16th place.
Ricciardo in third place is now 12.3s ahead of Bottas. But is the Williams going to be able to get away with one pitstop less?
Hamilton sets a new fastest lap of 1m30.804s, pulling his lead out to 3.7s.
Here's the top part of the field with the first stops done:
1 Hamilton; 2 Rosberg +3.7s; 3 Ricciardo +20.7s; 4 Bottas +33.0s; 5 Grosjean +36.0s; 6 Raikkonen +37.3s; 7 Alonso +39.2s; 8 Massa +40.6s.
Hamilton's engineer tells him he needs another four seconds of advantage over Rosberg to make the strategy work.
Raikkonen attacks Grosjean into Turn 1 and briefly gets fifth place but can't hold it.
And while Hamilton is told his target is to pull 4s clear of Rosberg, Rosberg is told he has to get within 2s of Hamilton in this stint.
The Grosjean/Raikkonen near-miss came out of the blue, with Raikkonen rapidly gaining and launching an attack down the outside.
Behind the top eight, things currently look like this:
Raikkonen tries again on the next lap and this time makes it past Grosjean without drama for fifth.
Vergne is about to retire from the race. The team informs him there is a problem with the exhaust and he needs to box and garage.
Could be a problem for the Lotus? Grosjean's pace has definitely slowed in this stint and Alonso is now on him.
Up front, Rosberg responds to Hamilton and the gap is 3.3s.
Grosjean locks up into Turn 10 and runs wide, before pulling across and managing to resist Alonso.
Alonso flies past Grosjean on the outside line into Turn 1 with some DRS help. The local hero is up to sixth, earning some cheers.
Raikkonen was able to pull out 2.4s over Alonso while his team-mate was behind Grosjean.
Vettel is currently slowly closing in on Massa and eighth place. Gap is 0.7s, Vettel was about two-tenths faster last time around.
A new personal best lap of the race for Rosberg brings him to within 2.9s of Hamilton on lap 26.
Rosberg's engineer suggests he just looks after his tyres and keeps the gap stable for the next 10 or so laps so he can attack later.
Red Bull tells Ricciardo that Bottas has picked up his pace slightly and reminds him that tyres will be "no problem". That sounds like "push on a bit, Dan."
Hamilton asks Mercedes if it can help him a bit as he has too much oversteer on this stint.
Hamilton adds 0.9s to his lead on lap 28, pulling out to 3.7s ahead of Rosberg.
Ricciardo takes Red Bull's hint and does his best lap of the race, though Bottas does the same and is only a tenth and a half adrift. The Red Bull and Williams are 11.8s apart.
Massa makes his second pitstop from eighth place on lap 28.
Hamilton remains unhappy. "My rear end's everywhere," he says.
Despite those rear-end worries, Hamilton pulls further away, increasing his lead to 4.3s.
Massa has re-joined in 14th place.
Rosberg does his best lap yet but Hamilton is a bit quicker again, making the gap 4.5s.
Bottas took 0.7s out of Ricciardo in their cagey, long-game battle for third on that lap. They're now 10.8s apart and on different strategies.
Hamilton is told his rear tyres are "cool" and his engineer isn't sure if they're over-protecting them. Hamilton reiterates he has oversteer.
Massa is now in clear air and lapping significantly quicker than those around him. Last lap he was 1.7s faster than Magnussen, who is in 13th.
BEN ANDERSON: "Vettel is having a strong race so far. Pitting out of sequence was a smart move, and he has made use of the track space to leapfrog himself well into the top 10. Looks as though the pace on the harder tyre is holding up well at this stage too."
"Same laptime as Lewis, so with the tyres that's three tenths quicker than him," Rosberg is told. He's reminded to get the gap down to 2s.
Rosberg heeds that instruction and sets the race's fastest lap, a 1m30.763s. Gap still 4.1s, though.
The Ferraris are still fifth and sixth, 1.2s apart. Grosjean has fallen 6.5s adrift of them now.
Red Bull asks Ricciardo how the tyres are doing. He replies that the fronts are still pretty good, but he's watching the left rear.
Still not much to choose between Hamilton and Rosberg, they're 4.3s apart.
Bottas is told that he's on course as far as staying ahead of the Ferraris is concerned.
Grosjean pits from seventh at the end of lap 34.
Vettel pits and takes on the medium tyre. He re-joins in 14th.
Kobayashi, meanwhile, has had a little off. He's now pitted, suggesting it could be a problem.
Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race with a 1m29.774s.
Alonso is the first Ferrari to pit again, rejoining just ahead of Massa.
Rosberg has now got Hamilton's advantage down to 3.7s.
Alonso's making progress after his stop, passing the yet-to-pit Magnussen for ninth into Turn 1, running a little wide but still holding it.
Vettel takes 11th from Massa. Not surprising given the speed difference between the two since Vettel's second stop.
Kobayashi has officially retired from the race.
A little way past half-distance, best non-Mercedes man Ricciardo is 32.5s off leader Hamilton.
Vettel now through on Magnussen. He's flying through the field.
Alonso does his best lap of the race and takes 1.7s out of Raikkonen as he tries to make sure he does jump his team-mate in this pit sequence.
The gap between the Ferraris is now 19.3s with Raikkonen yet to come in.
Hamilton's engineer updates him on the gap to Rosberg. Hamilton replies "where have you been for the last couple of laps, man?"
"Just letting you get through the traffic," is the very reasonable reply from Hamilton's engineer.
Vettel is now seventh, 2.1s behind Alonso. Last lap the two were fairly even in terms of laptime.
In between radio tension, Hamilton keeps his lead over Rosberg at 3.7s.
Massa passes Magnussen for eighth place.
Alonso is 2s quicker than Raikkonen again on that lap so is now 17.5s. Unless their strategies are about to diverge, that puts the Spaniard ahead after the stops.
"I need updates every lap," Hamilton demands.
Magnussen has now pitted.
Radio suggested Hamilton was called into the pits that time, but he stays out.
Mercedes puts the tyres back in the blankets. Try again next lap...
Hamilton does come in at the end of lap 43. He'll take hards for the run to the flag.
Hamilton and his engineer argued over the radio about how many turns of front wing to go down.
Hamilton was told that 'three turns' were required for the change of tyre compound, but he demanded it should just be two. After some to-and-fro, Hamilton got his way.
Raikkonen pits for hard tyres on lap 44 and drops behind Alonso.
The gap between the Mercedes is now 18.6s with Rosberg yet to make his last stop.
Things seemed to have stabilised for Vettel. He is still 2.4s behind Alonso.
Rosberg will go onto softs for the last stint while Hamilton is now on hards.
Rosberg pits just one lap after Hamilton.
Hulkenberg currently holding on to the last points-paying position. But his team-mate Perez is 0.6s behind and was a bit quicker on the last lap.
Rosberg rejoins the race behind Hamilton.
Ricciardo and Bottas both pit on lap 45.
Hamilton complains that he was brought in too early for that stop, but is told he was being kept on the "optimum strategy".
The gap between the Mercedes is 4.8s with 21 laps to go.
Massa makes his third stop from 11th place.
"How much time did we lose in the pitstop?" Hamilton asks. He's told not to worry about that now and to knuckle down.
Rosberg trims a little from Hamilton's lead with his best lap of the race so far. They're 4.6s apart.
Bottas's pitstop dropped him behind both Alonso and Vettel, but strategies have yet to fully unfold there.
Rosberg is a second faster than Hamilton on lap 48, bringing the gap down to 3.6s.
"OK Lewis, nine tenths lost to Nico, that was the traffic with Massa. Also big loss on braking for Turn 10," Hamilton is told.
Hamilton responds with the fastest lap yet, a 1m29.759s, but Rosberg is only 0.034s slower.
Behind the Mercedes, Ricciardo has a 7.4s cushion over Alonso, with Vettel another 2.3s back. The Ferrari and second Red Bull should pit again.
New fastest lap by Rosberg, it's a massive 1m29.247s that takes six tenths out of Hamilton.
"Nico faster in Turns 1, 2 and 3. You faster in sector three," Hamilton's engineer says, taking those demands for more info very seriously.
Rosberg does another new fastest lap on lap 41, his 1m29.236s bringing Hamilton's lead down to 2.3s.
Magnussen passes Kvyat for 12th place around the outside of Turn 1.
Perez does the same on his team-mate Hulkenberg for ninth place.
The Mercedes also have traffic to deal with. Hamilton is now between Magnussen and Kvyat on the road.
Rosberg three tenths faster, gap down to exactly two seconds.
Vettel makes that final pitstop at the end of lap 51, which will give Bottas one place back.
A much better lap from Hamilton pulls his lead back up to 2.7s.
Rosberg is reminded to look after the tyres so he can fight Hamilton at the end of the race.
Vettel slots into eighth, ahead of Grosjean.
Hamilton's latest tip from the pitwall is that Rosberg is carrying more speed than him through Turn 15 onto the straight.
Gutierrez in for his third stop.
Alonso makes his third stop so Bottas will go back to fourth and Alonso will fall behind Raikkonen again.
Double blow for Alonso as Vettel jumps him too, sweeping around the outside at Turn 1 as the Ferrari rejoins.
Nothing to choose between the lead rivals on lap 54, both Mercedes do 1m29.4s.
Hamilton is complaining that he has some tyre graining. His lead stands at 2.6s.
Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race with a 1m28.942s. He's only 2.8s behind Raikkonen, so fifth is in reach.
Rosberg sets the fastest first sector of the race so far.
Rosberg takes half a second out of Hamilton on lap 56, bringing the gap down to 2.1s.
Vettel lowers his benchmark time with a 1m28.918s best. Gap to Raikkonen down to seven tenths.
A full 45s behind Hamilton, Ricciardo is still on course for that overdue first podium. He's got an ample 19.7s margin over Bottas in fourth.
Hamilton asks if there is anything he can do with settings to combat the graining he's getting.
That didn't take long; Vettel is already into fifth, past Raikkonen. Good drive from the world champion.
Now the lead gap is below two seconds for the first time since the early laps as Rosberg closes to within 1.8s of Hamilton. Nine laps left.
Alonso 1.1s faster than Raikkonen last time around. Gap is now 1.5s, so the fight is on for sixth.
Another four-tenth gain for Rosberg takes the gap down to 1.4s.
Heavy traffic for the leaders now. Eighth-placed Grosjean is next on Hamilton's radar.
Vettel has a shot at fourth now, he's closed the gap to Bottas down to 3.5s and is lapping 1.5s quicker on his fresher tyres.
Rosberg is now just 0.9s behind Hamilton in the lead battle! DRS could be useable...
Both Mercedes lap Grosjean without drama.
Bottas is setting his best lap of the race so far as he tries to stay clear of Vettel, but it might not be enough.
Vettel is now within 2.5s of Bottas's tail.
Looking a lot like a points-less day for McLaren. Button and Magnussen currently 11th and 12th, but not showing any signs of catching the Force Indias ahead.
Hamilton manages to rebuild some of his advantage on lap 60 of 66, bringing the gap back to 1.3s.
Vettel takes another second out of Bottas and is now within 1.4s.
Rosberg chips a bit back from Hamilton. The gap is 1.2s with five laps left.
Hamilton is not he's not losing out to Rosberg anywhere now.
The crowd are on their feet as the Ferraris squabble over sixth. Wonder who the majority are going for?
Vettel is reassured that Alonso is still stuck behind Raikkonen so won't be a threat.
Vettel is within DRS range of Bottas, but it's one of those Renault/Mercedes battles again.
Rosberg is again a tenth quicker than Hamilton. They're 1.1s apart with four laps left.
There's also a little scrap going on over eighth, with Perez just 1.1s behind Grosjean.
Vettel is very close to Bottas in the middle of the lap but the Williams pulls far enough away on the backstraight to avoid a Turn 10 lunge from the Red Bull.
Vettel all over Bottas through the final chicane.
"Five laps to go Sebastian, use your head," says Red Bull.
Rosberg is back within DRS range of Hamilton, they're 0.9s apart.
The battle for sixth is getting heated – and Alonso finally breaks through after some side-by-side action from the Ferraris. Alonso now in sixth, Raikkonen seventh.
There's a chance the Mercedes lead fight might encounter Ferrari traffic...
Hamilton runs wide under braking for Turn 10, Rosberg is right on him.
Vettel makes it past Bottas for fourth into Turn 10.
Hamilton starts the penultimate lap just 0.7s ahead of Rosberg.
Rosberg closes right in on the backstraight.
"No more feedback, please" Hamilton now asks.
Grosjean looks to have steadied things in the fight for eighth with Perez, Gap stable at 1.6s.
Hamilton stays far enough ahead out of the final corner to avoid a Rosberg DRS attack as they lap Raikkonen and begin the final lap.
The Mercedes are only 0.6s apart but Rosberg seems to have run out of time and chances unless he can do something at Turn 10.
Rosberg uses DRS on the back straight, locks up into Turn 10 but Hamilton should have this now.
Hamilton wins the Spanish GP by just 0.6s and takes the world championship lead.
It will be nearly 50s before Ricciardo comes home in third.
That makes Hamilton only the third British driver to win four grands prix in a row, matching Damon Hill in 1995/6 and Jenson Button in 2009.
So, confirmation of the final result:
Hamilton now has a three-point championship lead over Rosberg.
The Mercedes drivers are in the waiting room for the podium; it looks civil, but not overly friendly.
The drivers are now on the podium. Shockingly, Ricciardo is smiling.
The anthems are done and the trophies are being handed out.
Vettel's engineer cheers him up on the slowing-down lap by telling him he got fastest lap this time. "I'm happy with that!" replies Vettel, who so often got told to slow down and stop taking risks in his pursuit of fastest laps when dominant.
Vettel also reassures his team that "we will get there, the star will go down." He means the Three-Pointed variety, we assume.
Bottas and his Williams engineer agree over the radio that fifth today was the maximum possible - the Mercedes and Red Bulls just too quick.
Kimi Raikkonen isn't happy with being jumped by Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso. After the race he quizzes his engineer about "who is making the calls? We seem to get second choice."
Ricciardo says third was as good as could be expected today:
"We knew a boring race would be a good one for us. We looked like a third-placed car, in the end that's what it was."
Nico Hulkenberg is an unhappy man. He tells Force India that he was disappointed with both car performance and strategy today.
feels he wasn't fast enough today, despite actually winning the race...
"I wasn’t fast enough really today. Nico was quicker, and I struggled a lot with the balance. I had to rely on the engineers more and try to find where I can find time, moving the settings up and down.
"Fortunately I was able to keep him behind."
And according to
, it would have taken just one more lap for him to have passed his team-mate and won the race.
"I think one more [lap] to be honest, I could have given him a go. I wasn’t close enough, but one more I would have been.
"[It's] still close in the championship, and there are many races to go as well."
EDD STRAW has been hearing from
in the scrums after the race. The world champion is happy with his result, describing it as the best possible in the circumstances.
Mercedes' fifth straight win to the start of the season is a feat that's not been seen since 2005 when Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso were the class of the field for Renault.
You want more statistics? Well, Chilton finished his 24th consecutive race and a points finish for Grosjean was a decent way of marking his 50th grand prix.
EDD STRAW reports that
's slide down the field was due to a power unit problem developing during the race. Seems it was related to the Energy Recovery System, hence his drop in pace.
Grosjean was fifth in the first stint but ended up only ninth.
Despite claiming his fourth win in a row and leading team-mate Rosberg by three points in the drivers' championship,
claims he is struggling at the moment.
Hamilton 'struggling' despite wins
, his race was hampered by contact with
on the first lap.
“I was pleased with how I got off the line and was with Kamui in 19th but then Maldonado hit me pretty hard as he tried to pass going into Turn 13. His move risked putting both of us out of the race, but luckily the car was ok and I was able to continue, even though that had put me back to 22nd."
The Caterham driver ultimately finished 20th.
"For me it’s another grand prix under my belt, another chance to learn and as hard as it’s been, I know we can improve so I’m as positive as ever and excited about racing in my first F1 race in Monaco in a couple of weeks.”
On the other side of the Caterham garage,
has confirmed it was a brake problem that caused his retirement from the race.
"I had a pretty scary moment going into Turn 1 when the left front brake failed and I was just able to keep the car out of the wall. That was the end of my race and the end of a difficult weekend.
"We clearly don’t have the performance we’re targeting, but changes have been made to help us sort this out and the whole team is working harder than ever to make progress. We have two days of testing here to help us learn more about the new parts we brought to Spain, so we’ll aim to fight back in Monaco.”
Newshound BEN ANDERSON is currently pacing up and down the paddock and reports a rather gloomy atmosphere at
"Downbeat mood in the Ferrari camp. Both drivers disappointed to be so far away from the Mercedes. Now a year since the Scuderia last won a Formula 1 race..."
was one of just two retirements in Spain, an exhaust problem leaving him side-lined for the third time this season. But he's not ready to start cursing his luck just yet...
"Somebody has asked me if I feel a bit persecuted by bad luck at the moment. It might look like this, but this is part of the game. I always do all I can, my team is working really hard and problems can happen.
"I'm still very positive that I will have my chance. I drive a Formula 1 car and I enjoy doing it, no matter what!"
Meanwhile, his Toro Rosso team-mate
reflected on a tough race, which saw the young Russian finish 14th.
"To be honest it was quite a difficult race today. We lacked pace, even though I must say that the first stint was quite positive and it seemed possible to even fight for some points.
"In the end, tyre wear was quite heavy and together with the lack of pace, it turned out to be a tough race."
While he wasn't able to hold off a charging
towards the end of the race,
says fifth place is still a good result for him and Williams.
"I’m really happy for us. We got the maximum out of the tyres, strategy and me in the car. It was a shame in the end that Vettel came so quickly and there was nothing we could do but still, good points.
"I think everyone and the team's atmosphere is completely different. We are fighting all the time for points and having close races, so everyone is pushing much harder than before. It's always good to feed that hunger and score points, it's what we want to do."
JONATHAN NOBLE reports from a delighted
camp, where the team is celebrating its first points of a very tough 2014 so far.
They reckon finishing ahead of the Ferraris with Romain Grosjean wouldn't have been a problem but for the ERS issues mentioned earlier. In the end, Grosjean fell to ninth.
It was a points-less race for McLaren in Spain, and
says a lot of the problem lies with a lack of tyre temperature at the start of the race.
"The first lap was pretty bad. I got a bad launch, and struggled to get heat in the tyres, which we seem to do.
"Just the first lap made all the difference really, putting [me] in a bad position. It’s so difficult to overtake or to get close enough because of the aero on the car, so the first lap cost us a lot."
JONATHAN NOBLE has also been hearing from an upbeat
Horner reckons third and fourth for Ricciardo and Vettel confirms that Red Bull has made a clear step to become second-best team behind Mercedes - and he certainly hasn't given up on catching the silver cars.
finished 13th today, but feels that he could have scored points today, had he enjoyed some better luck in terms of traffic while trying to make his three-stop strategy work.
"I made a good start and could have made more positions, but Ricciardo was in front so I couldn't do anything.
"The three-stop strategy would have worked had the first stint been clean, but I had cars in front which damaged my tyres a lot. This meant that rather than pulling away from them and having clean track, when they pitted they had the advantage.
"This happened again at the start of the second stint, so things just didn't go my way."
finished ninth (
) and 10th (
) today at Barcelona. And according to
, a double points finish actually surpassed the team's expectations at what they had figured would be one of their weakest races.
"It was a case of damage limitation today. We knew from the early practice sessions that this wasn't going to be our strongest track so to get two cars in the points is a positive result.
"The tyre degradation was high and the car was not so easy to drive, but I think everybody was struggling in the final part of the race. I thought we would need to make a third stop, but fortunately the tyres held on and I was able to score a point.
"We will use all the data we got over the weekend to improve for the next few races where we hope to be a bit more competitive."
BEN ANDERSON tried his best to get
to open up about those highly disgruntled radio messages he threw Ferrari's way after Fernando Alonso jumped him.
But making Raikkonen open up about something he's not keen to talk about isn't easy, as most of the F1 media has found this afternoon.
Here's what Raikkonen had to say, and Alonso insisting his focus today was Vettel, not Kimi:
Raikkonen wanted to 'clear up' Ferrari tactics
That brings our live coverage from the Spanish Grand Prix to a close.
commentary will be back at 8.30am UK time on Thursday May 22, when
practice begins - remember it's a day early as F1 takes Friday off in Monte Carlo.
Before then there will be more from
Race Centre Live
next Sunday, with coverage of the
Le Mans MotoGP
race day plus the
at Oschersleben and the return of top-class international sportscar racing to
Blancpain Sprint Series
Keep on eye on our news section through the evening for more from the Barcelona F1 paddock.
And as ever there are plenty of post-GP features coming up, including EDD STRAW's race analysis and driver ratings tomorrow morning, and GARY ANDERSON's verdict on Tuesday.
Thanks for your company this weekend.
SPANISH GRAND PRIX
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