RACE DEBRIEF

    Lewis Hamilton took a sensational victory in Spain over Max Verstappen on Sunday, but the seven-time champion said a highlight of his Grand Prix was that he "learned a lot" about his Red Bull rival having battled him on track throughout.

    Hamilton executed a surprise two-stop strategy to retake the lead from Verstappen at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after the Dutchman had got ahead off the line and into Turn 1 at the start, but the Briton spent nearly half the race hovering around a second behind the Red Bull's rear diffuser.

    READ MORE: Late pass secures Hamilton victory in Spain after race-long battle with Verstappen

    And, by staying so close to Verstappen in an enthralling battle, the reigning champion said he picked up some very useful information on his rival.

    "It was actually a really good day," he said after taking the win. "I learned a lot about Max today and perhaps more than all the other races probably put together."

    2021 Spanish Grand Prix: Verstappen overtakes Hamilton at race start

    However, Hamilton remained coy when he was asked if he would like to elaborate on what he had learned about the Red Bull racer.

    He replied: "Not particularly, no [laughs]. It was just… when you’re with people on track... you get to see different things and you can follow closely.

    READ MORE: ‘P4 the best we could have done’ – Leclerc delighted with ‘very competitive’ Ferrari performance in Spain

    "Obviously I was following relatively closely and I learned a lot about his car and learned a lot about how he uses it. So that was a good race in that respect."

    What clinched Hamilton the victory, as he had lost the lead going into the opening turn to Verstappen, was a two-stop strategy that saw Hamilton pit from second for a new set of mediums and close down a 22-second gap. By Lap 60, Hamilton led, and went on to win by 15.8 seconds.

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    Hamilton executed a two-stop strategy and overtook Verstappen with newer tyres at the end of the race

    Post-race, the seven-time champ praised Mercedes' strategy – but admitted he wasn't convinced whether he could have clawed back that massive gap to pass Verstappen on track, and revealed he faced a dilemma before pitting.

    "It had been the plan all weekend for us to make sure we had two mediums to be able to do a two-stop. Even though a one stop potentially looked better, I know from experience here that a one-stop is very, very hard to pull off.

    READ MORE: From Silverstone to Singapore – Hamilton's top 10 Formula 1 pole positions

    "And as soon as we had the pace that we had I knew as soon as I was able to get past him, if I could, and I was about to kind of, I think, have a shot at getting past him before I pitted right at the end and I was really conflicted, like: do I come in or do ignore the call and stay out? But it’s a remarkable job by everyone in this team, though and through, and yeah what a day," he concluded.

    Victory in Spain capped off the best start to a season that Hamilton has ever enjoyed in F1 as he is now on 94 points in the standings – to Verstappen's 80.