Lewis Hamilton claimed victory at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday evening, while Sebastian Vettel lost his chance of victory following a poor strategic call and Nico Rosberg had to limit the damage following a first lap bump which sent him down the order.
Hamilton led the Silver Arrows to a front row lock-out on Saturday as he searched for his fifth Canadian victory, but it was Sebastian Vettel who led the pack into the first corner on Sunday following a superb jump on the Mercedes into turn 1. As he watched Vettel steal his lead, Hamilton had to defend against team-mate Nico Rosberg who was eyeing up an overtake around the outside of turn 1. Hamilton understeered and bumped into Rosberg, sending the Championship leader off the track and across the run-off area where he rejoined in ninth place. It was to be a long afternoon for the German.
Rosberg’s compatriot was comfortable in the lead as he maintained a 1.5s gap to second-placed Lewis. But when Jenson Button’s Honda engine gave up on lap 11 and a Virtual Safety Car was deployed, Ferrari took the ambitious move to bring in both Vettel and Raikkonen, putting them on a two stop strategy in contrast to Hamilton’s one-stopper.
Hamilton inherited the lead and held a comfortable advantage over the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, but Vettel was fast charging on the newer tyres and, although encountering some expertly handled resistance from former team-mate Ricciardo, he soon gave both Red Bulls the slip and promoted himself to second.
By lap 25 Hamilton’s tyres were exhausted and he had a Prancing Horse growing ever larger in his mirrors so he pitted for a set of the harder compound Pirellis. This gave Vettel his lead back while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen began backing up the drivers further down the road to allow Vettel some clear air to rejoin.
He took his second and final pit stop on the fortieth lap which saw him rejoin with thirty laps left and only eight seconds between himself and Hamilton. But what should have been an easy gap to close proved much more difficult for Vettel as he got caught behind backmarkers while Hamilton increased his pace. He had only halved the difference over the next twenty laps, following which he cut the chicane not once or twice, but three times which cost him roughly a second and a half per slip. This ensured Hamilton was left unchallenged at the front of the grid, after a fantastically well-managed race from the three-time World Champion.
Meanwhile, Rosberg looked poor for most of the race as he recovered only two positions from ninth place before the first stops. Although the end of the race brought a much different Nico who made short work of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen – including a very impressive overtake into the final chicane on the Ferrari – he found his match when trying to pass Max Verstappen for fourth. He found out the hard way that Verstappen can be a fierce opponent, trying to replicate his overtake on Kimi he locked his rear tyres on entry and ended up sliding sideways into the run-off area. He was lucky not to beach his car or to have made a mistake a little later and clouted the barriers for he was able to rejoin the track without losing a position, finishing the race in fifth.
Jolyon Palmer’s bad luck continued in Canada as, after ending his race following a slip on the paint of a Zebra crossing on the Monte Carlo street circuit two weeks ago, he met an early end in Montreal at the hands of a water leak. Massa became the third and final DNF when he too suffered a water issue which caused the temperature to rise, and so retired to protect his brand new power unit.
The other Williams was celebrating a third place, the team’s first podium of the season. Bottas had a rather straightforward race and got everything right, which he post-race claimed demonstrated Williams’ ability to be a strong team who get good results. Just behind him in the standings is Max Verstappen who met his match in Monaco when two single-car crashes into the barriers, including a race DNF, robbed some of the bragging rights he’d acquired from his Spanish GP victory. This time around he was back to the Verstappen we know and love, the impressive racer and steely tough rival (see Rosberg) who kept cool and brought home a nice fourth placed finish for Red Bull, with Danny Ric in 7th.
Kimi was perhaps less impressive as he was outshone once again by his younger team-mate. In typical Ferrari fashion, as one car impressed out the front, a second one lingered further behind. Raikkonen is the Massa to Vettel’s Alonso of the early 2010s Ferrari line-up and it remains to be seen if he will remain with Ferrari, or even in F1 (although I doubt he’ll race for anyone who isn’t the Scuderia) this time next year. I’d imagine Ferrari are far more interested in Kimi’s compatriot who joined Vettel and Hamilton on the podium.
Haas once again showed they’re not backmarkers when they got caught up in a Fernando Alonso-led Trulli train in the earlier part of the race. The two finished in twelfth and thirteenth after a couple of nicely executed overtakes on each other, a strong result for a team who are only seven races into their Formula One career.
Their early form shows their day may come in years to come, but for the moment our attention is focused on the Mercedes and Ferrari outfits, and particularly the rapidly shrinking gap Nico Rosberg holds at the top of the table. His 43 point lead entering the Monaco GP has, in typical Rosberg fashion, been annihilated by a resurgent Lewis Hamilton taking two wins from two. Although he probably has a Ferrari strategy mistake to thank for his Canadian win, and definitely has the Red Bull blunder of two weeks ago to thank for a Monaco victory, the most important thing is that he’s taken fifty points from two races. Rosberg seemed rattled in Monaco and less feisty than one could expect into turn 1 in Montreal. He showed at the end of the Canadian race that he has the pace to retain the Championship lead (eh.. lets gloss over his mistake he made when fighting Verstappen) so needs to make a firm comeback in the upcoming inaugural Baku GP. If he can’t make a stand next week then surely that’s goodbye on his (last?) chance of a World Championship, but I’m glad to see Vettel is now getting himself firmly into the mix, ensuring Hamilton has a fight on his hands to retain his title.
- Lewis Hamilton
- Sebastian Vettel
- Valtteri Bottas
- Max Verstappen
- Nico Rosberg
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Carlos Sainz
- Sergio Perez
- Fernando Alonso
- Daniil Kvyat
- Esteban Gutierrez
- Romain Grosjean
- Marcus Ericsson
- Kevin Magnussen
- Pascal Wehrlein
- Felipe Nasr
- Rio Haryanto
- Felipe Massa – water systems failure
- Jolyon Palmer – water leak
- Jenson Button – engine failure
Photo courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team