Vettel: Lewis and I linked by 'common passion'

He had earlier triggered the exits of last year's Spanish GP lead combatants Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen, when he tagged Raikkonen into the first corner of the race and sent the Ferrari sideways into Verstappen's Red Bull.

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. Contact between Bottas & Raikkonen lead to the Ferrari changing direction, and lead to a consequent further collision between the Ferrari and Red Bull.

Home hero Fernando Alonso was unable to capitalize on his fine performance in qualifying and finished 12th in the McLaren.

Hamilton surged past the German around the outside of turn one, to which Vettel replied: "No chance, no chance". However, Ferrari chose to pit the German earlier in the race.

Hamilton eventually stopped at the end of lap 21, taking on the more durable medium rubber, and exited the pit lane almost eight seconds adrift of Vettel. 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.

Hamilton would not be denied for long, however, and he got close enough to use a DRS boost and surge past Vettel with 22 laps to go.

Both Vettel and Hamilton managed to pass Bottas before fate intervened and a virtual safety vehicle was deployed following an incident between Stoffel Vandoorne and Felipe Massa.

Hamilton kept his foot in and tried to go around the outside but Vettel squeezed him and they touched, with Hamilton taking to the run-off. Ferrari too brought Vettel in for a set of medium tyres in lap 38.

For much of the fifth round of the championship here in Barcelona it looked as though it was going to be Vettel who would extend his title lead to 20 points after executing the ideal start to leapfrog his championship rival.

However, the Mercedes was now on faster soft tyres, as compared to the mediums on the Ferrari.

Vettel's and Hamilton's teammates both abandoned the race. As a result, Vettel came out of the pit lane side-by-side with Hamilton instead of eight seconds ahead. Vettel stayed second, with Daniel Ricciardo a distant and lonesome third. Meanwhile, Bottas was forced to retire due to vehicle trouble.

The Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished astern in fourth and fifth.

"They are two champions who could not be more different in character but each testify that even in a technological F1, the drivers are still crucial".