It is now more challenging and you see us more exhausted after the race. Saturday's was the record 74th pole of his career and came at a track that has historically favoured the top qualifier. He joined seven-time champion Schumacher and two-time champion Mika Hakkinen as a three-time victor in Spain.
"This is more like it, let's keep this up", Hamilton told his celebrating team over the radio as he swept past the chequered flag.
"I didn't get a great feeling on that tyre, on that set".
Later in the race Verstappen was running fourth when he clipped his front wing on a Williams under the virtual safety vehicle, but the damage was not significant and he didn't have to make an extra stop.
"We're back, I have to say", Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said after the session.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo also used the soft tyre for the second part of Q3.
Hamilton tested a set of super-softs before the session ended with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, Frenchman Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso, the Force India pairing of Frenchman Esteban Ocon and Mexican Sergio Perez, and Frenchman Charles Leclerc of Sauber eliminated from the final round.
The race started with high drama as Grosjean made an inexplicable error.
On a cooler day with intermittent sunshine and heavy clouds looming, the track temperature was 35 degrees Celsius, and the air 15, when the race began.
Vettel, who is four points behind Hamilton in the championship, said: "I was happy with the lap". Gosh, the BBC Sport website are good, aren't they " Have the cars' upgrades changed the game?
"I asked and we chose to go back to the softs and I think that was the right call".
But Mercedes, who pitted some 10 laps earlier than the two Red Bulls, managed their tyres to the finish, while Vettel's hopes were futher dashed by his own slow second stop under the virtual safety auto.
He will be looking to extend that lead this weekend as he takes to the track in Barcelona. That was the second consecutive race he had benefited from the random interventions impairing Ferrari's obvious edge in performance. The contact eliminated all three drivers and brought out the Safety Car for six laps. The clipped wing was expected to give Vettel behind him a free pass back to a podium, but instead Verstappen pulled away and closed in significantly on Bottas in the final few laps.
Hamilton wants to lead a life in fashion after motor racing and recently teamed up with renowned clothing label Tommy Hilfiger. The stop occurred under VSC conditions and he emerged from it behind Verstappen and was ultimately unable to get close enough to the Dutchman to try and pass.