A wet qualifying session that saw drivers gambling and taking chances led to a surprise front row for Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel putting the Ferraris on the second row.
The start was clean at the front – race day remained dry – and Hamilton duly got the jump on his rivals and settled down to his afternoon’s work. Behind him, Vettel sneaked past his team mate into third, and further back the prime mover was Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault who vaulted into the top 10.
Further back Daniel Riccardo, who had been caught out by the rain in qualifying, was making great strides in the Red Bull at the start of what would be one of the drives of the race.
Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull retired early in the race with an engine issue, which briefly led to the Virtual Safety Car being deployed to clear the stricken car. At lap 10, Hamilton had a lead of over four seconds from his team mate and was looking comfortable.
The first moves came when Raikkonen stopped early on lap 15 for fresh tyres, prompting Mercedes to cover him by bringing in Bottas a lap later. At the front, Hamilton continued to extend his lead and by lap 20 it was up to more than eight seconds from Vettel.
Hamilton made his stop on lap 25 and came out in second place, leaving Vettel out front and going for a longer stint n his soft tyres. Raikkonen would make a second stop, proving the Ferraris were on split strategies, while Vettel finally stopped on lap 39.
The German rejoined in third, with both Mercedes ahead of him and Hamilton back in the lead.
Late Race Fight
Hamilton would control the race from the front, but behind him things were not so straightforward. At lap 60, Hamilton’s lead was almost 18 seconds to Bottas, but the Finn was coming under attack from the Ferrari pair behind him.
A pass on lap 65 was defended hard by Bottas, with he and Vettel colliding. This broke a part of Bottas’s wing, and as a result he was duly overtaken by both the red cars.
At the flag, Hamilton led Vettel by 17 seconds with Raikkonen close behind. Ricciardo had been involved in a tough fight with Bottas in the last few laps and took fourth, with the disappointed Bottas finishing fifth.
The rest of the points positions went to Pierre Gasly, after an excellent race in the Toro Rosso, Kevin Magnussen who continues to impress quietly at Haas finished seventh, Fernando Alonso in the McLaren in eighth, plus Carlos Sainz for Renault and the second Haas of Romain Grosjean.
Hamilton now leads Vettel by 24 points, while Ferrari trail Mercedes in the Constructor’s Championship by 10 points as the F1 circus takes a three-week summer break.