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Warm weather gave me the win: Hamilton

Warm weather gave me the win: Hamilton

But it was a win his team identified as crucial to his self-belief and confidence for his title defence. With two podiums in the first four races, the Ferrari driver can still take some respite from his promising start to the campaign despite a disappointing day in Barcelona.

Hamilton will be trying to win his second race in a row and add to his four-point lead over Vettel in the drivers' standings.

After dominating in the season opener at Melbourne but failing to win after Vettel took advantage of a late virtual safety vehicle, Mercedes admitted a software error had caused the miscalculation that had cost Hamilton. "Then they put in some belters at the end".

Why were Mercedes much more relatively competitive in Spain than in the past three races? "The best ones are sensitive and fragile", he said.

"Race by race we are understanding the tyres more", he said. We could just as easily go to the next race and struggle getting our tires working and be nowhere. "This is a good way to start the weekend".

Wolff added that he hoped it was "turning point" and that finally giving him the right tools had been key. I wouldn't say I had ideal synergy, but nearly.

"We let him down in Melbourne, which could have been an easy win, with an error and that stays in your mind. This is what racing drivers need, results, podiums and wins, and hopefully it is the beginning of a good phase".

His team boss Toto Wolff suggested some of the reason for Hamilton's upturn in form may also have been psychological, following his victory in Baku.

"Today the auto and myself, I felt that synergy which I hadn't been feeling for the whole year", he added in a pre-podium interview after parking up in pit lane. "We were going through the tyres quicker than the others today. It's really important that we all continue to push and work as hard as we have done during this first part of the season".

"Our understanding of the auto and the improvements that we're making are important too". I'm almost in the groove. It is the closest to that feeling I had previous year in terms of feeling comfortable with the auto.

Vettel stopped on lap 17 for a new set of tyres, while Bottas was called in by Mercedes two laps later.

Ferrari took the chance to stop Vettel for a second time in fear that his rubber would not last the course, but he was stationary for more than five seconds which allowed Bottas, who did not stop, and also Verstappen to move ahead of the Ferrari man.

Vettel said he remained upbeat heading into the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks.

For the first time this season, he felt truly at one with the auto.

Bottas, whose second-place finish required a 47-lap stint on the medium compound, admitted he was not initially convinced a one-stop was doable.

After another incident on Lap 44, Esteban Ocon retired after Verstappen went into the back of his vehicle, while McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne lost power on his auto and was also forced to retire.

When the safety auto went in on Lap 7, he then streaked away from Vettel in second, setting multiple lap records, and was able to take his only pit stop eight laps later than the German with no concerns of being leapfrogged.

Wolff sympathised with his rivals at the Scuderia. I think it probably impacted more on us than the others. "Ferrari did the opposite".

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