Ice-cool Vettel thwarts Hamilton's challenge to confirm his superiority

German makes it four wins out of five after edging thrilling duel

In the end, there was nothing like the amount of overtaking that had been predicted around a circuit on which it has rarely been possible, but it barely mattered as Sebastian Vettel found himself hounded all the way by an heroic Lewis Hamilton. After 190 miles, just six-tenths of a second separated them as the reigning champion scored his fourth victory in five races this season for Red Bull.

Nobody doubts that the Red Bull RB7 is the best car in the field, and good though it is, Hamilton's McLaren MP4-26 did not deserve to push Vettel so hard. "I just couldn't ever get close enough, and never had an opportunity to overtake," Hamilton admitted – and that was with a KERS system that worked better than Vettel's (which developed an intermittent problem), and a DRS rear wing which cuts drag for the following car and, on some circuits, facilitates passing moves.

"I was quite impressed with the job we were able to do considering that their car is quite a bit faster than ours," Hamilton continued. "Our race pace really has improved since the last race, but he [Vettel] was incredible, massively quick, in the high-speed Turn Three and again in Turn Nine and the final corner, 16, where his extra downforce was so clear to me."

The partisan crowd cheered itself hoarse at the start when local hero Fernando Alonso burst through from fourth place on the grid to be alongside Vettel and then dive down the inside of his pole-sitting team-mate Mark Webber going into the first corner. It was the prelude to a disappointing afternoon for the Australian who had been focusing on keeping Vettel at bay and did not spot the Ferrari in time.

"I thought I'd made a pretty good start," Vettel said, "and I didn't understand where Fernando came from. We'd just set off and halfway down to the first corner he was already alongside. After that I couldn't get close enough to get the DRS advantage, but eventually we got him with our second pit stop."

Alonso kept the lead through his first of four pit stops on the 10th lap, and again on the 19th, but thereafter the race was between Vettel and Hamilton, who stopped initially on laps nine and 11 and then 18 and 23 respectively.

As they raced ahead, Alonso kept an increasingly frustrated Webber at bay, and Jenson Button worked his way back from a terrible start that dropped him initially from fifth on the grid to 10th at the end of the opening lap.

Alonso was third when he pitted for the third time on the 29th lap, and again he held off Webber, but the Spaniard soon blistered a set of hard-compound Pirelli tyres and gradually dropped away as he had to make his final set last from the 39th lap to the end. He finished a lapped fifth.

Vettel and Hamilton, meanwhile, traded blows until the finish, pushing each other all the way. The gap between them fluctuated from as much as 2.4sec on the 51st to 0.5 on the 58th, but Hamilton just could not overtake. Vettel worked the traffic well and maintained his small but crucial advantage after a super-cool drive.

"Lewis was very strong and I knew it would be very, very close," he said. "It felt a bit like China, with my tyres going away, and I was praying for the same thing to happen to him. He was sitting for some time on the rev limiter all down the straight, always there when I looked in the mirrors, and it was hard to know whether to defend or not.

"Over the last few laps I just got enough to make it stick. Sometimes my KERS was on, sometimes not, so I was playing with the button. It was quite a relief when you cross the line and there's the chequered flag. We made it."

Hamilton said: "I caught up three times but our raw speed was not fast enough. But I'm thoroughly happy with the job we did; considering the circumstances it was quite an achievement."

So he was a valiant second, and McLaren picked up the third podium place too after Button switched to a three-stop strategy after his dreadful start and later made the most of his final set of soft-compound tyres to jump Alonso and Webber.

"The start was an absolute disaster," he admitted. "It didn't feel too bad, but I was on the outside for Turn One and three people came past, and the same thing happened in Turn Three. After that to begin with it was very difficult to overtake, but we used a fantastic strategy and I was able to get on the podium.

"It was great fun to pass Mark and Fernando within the same lap, especially as they had been fighting for 40 laps, and a strategy that wasn't right three weeks ago was perfect here. I really felt like I raced today and I'm happy with the result, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if I'd made a good start."

After the race the stewards investigated Hamilton, Button and Webber for possible yellow flag infringements, but no penalties were applied.

Barcelona details

FIA Formula One Spanish Grand Prix; Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain; Final positions (66 laps):

1 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1hr 39min 03.301sec;

2 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:39:03.931;

3 J Button (GB) McLaren 1:39:38.998;

4 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:39:51.267;

5 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari at 1 lap;

6 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP at 1 lap;

7 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP at 1 lap;

8 N Heidfeld (Ger) Renault at 1 lap;

9 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 lap;

10 K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 lap;

11 V Petrov (Rus) Renault at 1 lap; 12 P di Resta (GB) Force India at 1 lap; 13 A Sutil (Ger) Force India at 1 lap; 14 S Buemi (Swit) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap; 15 P Maldonado (Ven) Williams at 1 lap; 16 J Alguersuari (Sp) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 2 laps; 17 R Barrichello (Br) Williams at 2 laps; 18 J Trulli (It) Lotus F1 at 2 laps; 19 T Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing at 3 laps; 20 J d'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing at 4 laps; 21 N Karthikeyan (India) HRT-F1 at 5 laps. Not Classified: 22 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 58 laps completed; 23 H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 48 laps completed; 24 V Liuzzi (It) HRT-F1 28 laps completed. Standings: Drivers: 1 S Vettel 118pts; 2 L Hamilton 77; 3 M Webber 67; 4 J Button 61; 5 F Alonso 51; 6 N Rosberg 26; 7 N Heidfeld 25; 8 F Massa 24; 9 V Petrov 21; 10 M Schumacher GP 14; 11 K Kobayashi 9; 12 S Buemi 6; 13 A Sutil 2; 14 S Perez 2; 15 P di Resta 2; 16 J Alguersuari 0; 17 R Barrichello 0; 18 J Trulli 0; 19 J d'Ambrosio 0; 20 H Kovalainen 0; 21 P Maldonado 0; 22 N Karthikeyan 0; 23 T Glock 0; 24 V Liuzzi 0.Manufacturers: 1 Red Bull 185pts; 2 McLaren 138; 3 Ferrari 75; 4 Renault 46; 5 Mercedes GP 40; 6 Sauber-Ferrari 11; 7 Scuderia Toro Rosso 6; 8 Force India 4; 9 Williams 0; 10 Lotus F1 0; 11 Virgin Racing 0; 12 HRT-F1 0.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
News
Bey can do it: Beyoncé re-enacts Rosie the Riveter's pose
newsRosie the Riveter started out as an American wartime poster girl and has become a feminist pin-up. With Beyoncé channeling her look, Gillian Orr tells her story
Life and Style
Donna and Paul Wheatley at their wedding
healthShould emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements