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Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona on May 14, 2017.

After Hamilton's stop, Ferrari pitted a lap later and Vettel emerged wheel to wheel with Hamilton, holding position with a firm defensive move at Turn 1.

It meant that Hamilton would be on the quicker tyre after the second round of pit stops, allowing him to attack.

Championship leader Vettel bemoaned the eight seconds he lost to Hamilton in the second stops but felt the Scuderia could not have done any more.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he was not concerned about Hamilton sounding so exhausted on the radio. "It was as close as it could be". I had a good start but there was no were to go. "I thought I did everything I was supposed to do, but got wheel spin".

"It was aggressive but I was able to remain in the fight fortunately and I avoided a collision ultimately".

Though they disagreed over the incident after the race, they did so with a laugh, and Vettel says the two men have a mutual respect from their love of what they do.

"With Valtteri I was catching him and I knew they wouldn't pit him".

Hamilton added: " It did not start off the greatest when I first came, but my appreciation for the country and its people has grown".

"I was doing all I could to stay in front, but then he just flew down the straight".

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"Shame for the end result, but we leave Spain knowing that we can count on a auto that is solid and very quick", Arrivabene said. I got a bit fortunate with Valtteri's problem towards the end of the race which bumped me up to third, but of course I'm still happy to be up there again and see all the smiles from the team. I was good when I got out of the vehicle but jumping into.

One of the biggest stories of the race came at the start. Both Raikkonen and Verstappen received damages to their suspensions, forcing them to retire from the race.

Starting from fourth and fifth, Kimi Raikkonen and 2016 race victor Max Verstappen came together when trying to squeeze around the first turn with Bottas alongside them.

"It's just unfortunate", Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

Hamilton said: "I gave you space, otherwise we would have touched..." "Unfortunately, Valtteri touched Kimi and, of course, Kimi couldn't control his vehicle, then slammed into me".

"At least we got more points than Ferrari today in spite of the retirement". For now we take what we can and it's nice to be up on the podium. It didn't work, I'm not happy with that.

"We tried to stay in the race but well done to him, he drove a good race and we did everything we could". Hamilton is close behind with 98 points and Bottas is third with 63 points.

Indeed, in the ante room, while Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo stood and re-lived the race, Hamilton quickly slumped on to a sofa.

Their next chance will be in two weeks at the Monaco GP.