Hamilton pips Bottas to top Spanish GP third practice

     Lewis Hamilton won a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix

GETTY Lewis Hamilton won a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Finn Valtteri Bottas came home second in the second Mercedes ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull who resisted late pressure from four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who led Hamilton by 17 points after the opening three races this year.

Hamilton took the checkered flag on lap 66, becoming the first driver to score points in 30 straight Grands Prix, and further raising the bar for most consecutive race starts, with 213.

I wouldn't say I had flawless synergy, but nearly.

"They appear to be a lot harder than previous year", he said. Vettel ended P4 with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in P5.

In securing his second win of the 2018 campaign and his first back-to-back triumphs following his win in Baku, Hamilton proved that Azerbaijan wasn't just a flash in the pan, even if it could have been described an "inherited win".

"In many ways, this is a weekend in which nothing went right", team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said. But Hamilton was quick to offer caution whilst still celebrating Mercedes' first 1-2 finish of the season.

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The vehicle works at its best on the harder compounds of rubber and Mercedes and all the top six drivers, will start the race on the soft rubber used in the second session. "To think that it's my 64th but it still feels like the first, still feels special, still feels unique in its own and the journey to it is why it feels unique". "When Lewis was coming behind Max (Verstappen) he had a brand-new tire, Max had a tire that had done 27 laps, and it's just so hard to overtake here". Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 7. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel could manage only fourth after his team took a second pitstop for the German behind the virtual safety vehicle that lost him track position. His team-mate Sergey Sirotkin was in 18th but has a three-place grid penalty from the last race.

The pace was real, too, with the champion's fastest lap of one minute 16.173 seconds a track record.

Mexican Sergio Perez was ninth for Force India and Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc took the final point for Sauber. But racing was immediately interrupted by the safety auto when Nico Hülkenberg and Pierre Gasly were collected by Romain Grosjean in the Haas who went off and spun back across the track through the third corner.

Earlier, Hamilton also made a top-place finish in the second practice, while he finished at the second place behind Bottas in the opening session. The Haas driver collected Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg in the process. Kimi [Raikkonen] had an issue with the engine [on Friday], had to change the engine and obviously then retired in the race.

Australian Ricciardo qualified sixth-fastest for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, one spot behind Verstappen, putting them together on the third row of the grid in Barcelona.

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