By Alan Baldwin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton hailed history in the making in Spain on Sunday as his Mercedes team celebrated the best-ever start to a season with a fifth one-two finish in as many races.
The 34-year-old Briton’s 76th career triumph left him 15 short of seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91.
Hamilton, second on the grid, seized the lead from polesitting team mate Valtteri Bottas at the start and went unchallenged to the chequered flag.
The five-times champion described Mercedes as the strongest team ever and said there was more to come.
“I’m enjoying continuous growing with this team and, I mean, it’s incredible what we’re achieving together, what we have achieved in these six years, seven years or whatever it is,” he told reporters.
“I plan on working with this team to help it become the most successful team of all-time. That’s my current goal and my sole focus.”
Mercedes have a long way to go for that to happen with Sunday’s win a 92nd for the German marque — absent as a constructor from 1955 to 2010 — compared to Ferrari’s 235 since 1951.
Ferrari have also won a record 16 constructors’ championships and 15 drivers’ titles, compared to five and seven respectively for Mercedes.
The Italian team have not won any crown for more than a decade now, however.
Hamilton had spoken after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix of having been too kind to team mate Valtteri Bottas in that race and making it harder for the Finn, who won in Baku and led the championship to Spain.
There was no need for that on Sunday, with Bottas experiencing clutch problems at the start and having to settle for second.
Hamilton said he had not been thinking about the past, and had taken his motivation from elsewhere.
“Today, I was more just super-inspired by this young kid who sent me a message, Harry (Shaw). He was kind of my spirit angel today,” said the Briton. Mercedes said the five-year-old was diagnosed with cancer last year.
“We had sent him a card and a cap and I saw that (message) today before going into the race,” said Hamilton.
“I was chilled but I was looking for something for inspiration, something to grab onto, so I dedicated today’s race to him.
“You try to go out there and do something for someone and it doesn’t always turn out as well as it has, but nonetheless it has, so I hope he’s watching…we’re going to try and do something special for him.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ian Chadband)