An emotional Lewis Hamilton dedicated his victory at the Spanish Grand Prix to a young British child diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Hamilton is back in charge of the world championship following his fantastic start to the race here in Barcelona, where he saw off Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the 300-metre dash to the opening bend.
From there, the 34-year-old never looked back, leading every lap before taking the chequered flag and claiming a bonus point for the fastest lap on a perfect afternoon.
He is now seven points clear of Bottas, and 48 ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who crossed the line a distant fourth.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen completed the podium. The win was Hamilton’s third of the campaign and 76th in all of a remarkable career.
But moments after recording a win which puts him firmly in the box seat for a sixth world title, Hamilton’s mood turned to five-year-old Harry Shaw, who was recently given just one week to live following a nine-month battle against a rare bone cancer.
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Harry, you don’t know how much this message means to me buddy. Thank you so much, you are my inspiration today Harry. I will try to make you proud. You are such a strong boy, I wish I was as strong as you, I wanted the world to see how strong you are and ask everyone to send their best wishes and prayers to you during this hard time. Sending you love Harry. God bless you. Your friend, Lewis #keepfighting #nevergiveup #wewinandwelosetogether
Ahead of Sunday’s race, Hamilton posted a heart-breaking 17-second video to his Instagram account which he had received from Harry.
Wearing a Mercedes cap, and lying next to a signed Hamilton picture in his hospital bed, Harry says: “Hello Lewis Hamilton. Good luck winning the race in Spain and thank you for all of the gifts. Lots of love from Harry and goodbye.”
“Today, I was just super-inspired by this kid that sent me a message,” said Hamilton, his voice croaking.
“He was my spirit angel.
For Harry 💪 This brave, inspiring young man was diagnosed with cancer in August 2018 and he’s not stopped fighting since!
We’re supporting @HarrysPledge5 to raise money for research into Ewing’s Sarcoma and other childhood cancers
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) May 12, 2019
“We sent him a card and a cap, and I saw the video he sent before the race. I was looking for inspiration and something to grab to so I dedicate today’s race to him.
“You try to go out there and do something for someone. It doesn’t always turn out as well as it has but I hope he is watching.
“I will be sending him a message shortly after this, and we are going to try and do something special for him.”
Harry’s parents, Charlotte and James, have set up a charity page to raise money for research into the disease – Ewing’s sarcoma.
P1 🤘🏾🔥 We did it!! What an incredible feeling this is…Thank you all for your love and positivity. This is yet more history made for our team with 5 one-twos! So proud! #nevergiveup #TeamLH @MercedesAMGF1 pic.twitter.com/iE8HUuSMyX
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) May 12, 2019
They have so far raised almost £3,000. Hamilton devoting his victory to Harry here will surely help them generate many thousands more.
Hamilton was blown away by Bottas in qualifying by an eye-watering margin of six tenths.
But after he admitted to being too kind to Bottas on their first-lap tussle in Azerbaijan a fortnight ago, the Englishman made no mistake on Sunday, delivering his best start of the campaign to draw alongside the Finn within metres and then making the move stick at the opening right-hander.
It all looks fine for @ValtteriBottas
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 12, 2019
Vettel was quick out of his marks, too, but the German was too gung-ho in his attempt to sweep past both Mercedes cars and he ran off the track, compromising his race by damaging his rubber.
There was confusion on the Ferrari pit wall as to whether they should tell a wounded Vettel to get out of team-mate Charles Leclerc’s way.
They eventually did. Then, later on in the race, they dithered on whether to order Leclerc aside for Vettel, with the pair on different tyre strategies.
Leclerc eventually moved over but they had lost time fighting for position.
It summed up Ferrari’s torrid start to the season. A safety car, introduced after British teenager Lando Norris crashed out following a collision with Lance Stroll, afforded the leaders a free pit stop in the closing stages, and Verstappen to cement the final spot on the podium.
The Dutchman is now third in the title race, 46 points behind Hamilton.
- Press Association