Hamilton takes the win at 2017 Spanish Grand Prix

In the first European Grand Prix of the campaign, Hamilton and Vettel served up "a mighty appetiser for the rest of the season", says Giles Richards in The Guardian.

The top two lapped everyone, with the exception of Red Bull's third-placed Australian Daniel Ricciardo, and their mutual respect shone through afterwards with some light banter.

The race started with Lewis Hamilton on pole, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton was also helped by team-mate Bottas, who was in the lead on an extended stint and managed to hold up Vettel up for a handful of laps following the Ferrari driver's first pit stop.

Verstappen and Raikkonen believe they would not have crashed at the start of the race had Valtteri Bottas not tagged the Ferrari at Barcelona's first corner.

While Mercedes went for one big upgrade - in part down to the complexities of the work on their gearbox - Ferrari have been chipping away in the development race all season long.

Felipe Massa collided with both McLaren cars. He added his hopeful 12th-place finish to the leg of Spanish ham that a fan handed him over a barbed-wire fence while he was greeting his home supporters before the race.

The German pulled out a lead, with Mercedes electing to fit the slower medium compound tyres to Hamilton's auto at his first stop.

Vettel stopped one lap later, but emerged alongside Hamilton to lead to a fascinating on-track duel between the two leading talents of their generation.

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The duo went wheel-to-wheel after Vettel came out alongside his title rival following a second pit stop. However, Mercedes made a decision to keep Bottas out for a bit longer in order to hold up Sebastian Vettel.

That close encounter saw the Brit take to the run-off and concede the place to the Ferrari briefly, but five laps down the road Hamilton was able to catch and overtake the German for the lead, where he remained at the chequered flag.

For the time being at least, and after surviving their near-miss at Turn One at Barcelona, the mutual admiration between Hamilton and Vettel is such that the Englishman felt moved to compare their rivalry to one of the most engrossing contests the world of sport has witnessed in recent times.

"To have that close battle with him, with a four-time champ, is awesome", Hamilton, himself a three-time champion, said about Vettel.

For the previous three seasons, Hamilton was locked in an all-Mercedes fight for the Drivers' Championships with Nico Rosberg. Hamilton pitted on 21 for mediums while Vettel was stuck behind Bottas.

With the win, Hamilton cuts into Vettel's lead in the drivers standings.

The hard compound Pirelli-supplied tyre proved too hard to be of any use at the track and the differential between the medium and the soft was much higher than usual.

Ferrari were somewhat caught on the hop, and when they reacted to Hamilton's stop they put the slower medium compound on Vettel's vehicle. I don't know how we managed to lose that.

Ricciardo, in a Red Bull, was more than a minute adrift of the leaders, ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez and his Force India team-mate Frenchman Esteban Ocon.

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