This is why I race, raves Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton declared "that's how racing should be" after beating Sebastian Vettel to glory in an enthralling Spanish Grand Prix.

Vettel seized the initiative by passing pole-sitter Hamilton into Turn One but Mercedes turned the tables by switching strategies and pitting their driver for the second time under the virtual safety auto. Third place went to Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo nearly 76 seconds behind.

When Ferrari beat Mercedes to the first pit stop, preventing Hamilton stealing a march by stopping earlier and benefiting from fresh tyres, the race appeared to be Vettel's to lose.

With the two leaders lapping every driver up to third-place Daniel Ricciardo, Hamilton acknowledged the closeness of the battle with Vettel.

Bottas' slight nudge of Raikkonen caused a chain-reaction, sending Raikkonen into Verstappen.

The victory, Hamilton's second of the season and the 55th of his career, was just what the doctor ordered after his drubbing in Russian Federation a fortnight earlier. However, Ferrari made a decision to pit the German earlier in the race. For the opening laps, the gap stayed around the 2.0-second mark but then Vettel pitted on lap 14 for soft tires.

Hamilton was left for dead at the start as Vettel shot by him into the lead and he looked out of it when he trailed by a almost eight seconds before the Mercedes think tank got to work.

He was briefly held up at the first round of pit stops by Bottas, who stayed out to help his teammate, but a brilliant overtaking move saw the German re-establish his advantage.

Hamilton finished the 66-lap contest 3.5 seconds ahead of the four-time champion German, having blasted past him to regain the lead after 44 laps.

The Brit was allowed to pass Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to take on Vettel and did so in style.

Next, Vettel engaged Bottas in an exhilarating lap-long chase before finally getting past the Finn on the third try, even though the effort slowed down Vettel and let Hamilton shave off valuable seconds from behind.

The virtual safety vehicle was deployed when Stoffel Vandoorne crashed into Felipe Massa and Mercedes caught Ferrari on the hop by pitting Hamilton.

Pole-sitter Hamilton was overtaken by the Ferrari driver into the first turn and a fascinating tactical battle ensued. However, it was Vettel that broke away from the grid in the final race overtaking Hamilton on Turn 1.

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

Vettel was still baffled after the race as to how he had lost his relatively comfortable lead. Max Verstappen, who won the race past year, retired after a first-lap clash with Kimi Räikkönen. Drivers Sergio Perez and Estaban Ocon finished fourth and fifth respectively, the team's best performance this season securing crucial points in the fifth consecutive race.

Nico Hulkenberg secured his best result for Renault with sixth.