Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton lead from start to finish today to secure his sixth Canadian Grand Prix victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, finishing ahead of his team mate Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
Following an emotional Saturday where he was able to match the pole position record of his idol Ayrton Senna, and received a helmet worn by the legend from the Senna family, Hamilton went onto to command the race from the very first corner. He maintained the lead following his one and only pitstop and admitted afterwards that his mind even drifted off into recollections of his maiden F1 victory in Montreal ten years ago during the race.
“There were no troubles today, it was a beautiful Sunday drive,” said Hamilton. “It’s always a great feeling to deliver and to have it all under control is always an amazing feeling.”
Hamilton’s team mate Bottas finished the race in second place for Mercedes, albeit almost twenty seconds behind his team mate, capping off a good weekend for the team following a less than stellar weekend at Monaco two weeks ago. The result according to Team Principal Toto Wolff was vindication of the subsequent round-the-clock work at Mercedes factory in Brackley to fine-tune their difficult W08.
The Red Bull of Ricciardo capitalised on the chaos of Canada to take the final podium position following some bad luck for his team mate Max Verstappen. While all eyes were on the showdown between Hamilton and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel at the start, it was in fact Verstappen who got the best start, managing to get from fifth to second at the first corner. He managed an ambitious dive up the inside of Vettel’s Ferrari, although two cars made contact as the Red Bull snuck ahead, with Verstappen clipping the front-wing of Vettel’s Ferrari. The damage forced Vettel into an early stop and a two-stop strategy, while Verstappen was free to battle on. Unfortunately for him, his Red Bull developed a battery failure that left the Dutchman banging his steering wheel in frustration, and rueing yet another reliability problem. Verstappen’s demise resulted in a podium opportunity for Ricciardo, Vettel, and the Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. A podium Ricciardo was able to capitalise on.
Vettel’s fourth place finish is not only the first time he has finished off the podium this season, but it is also the first time he has not been in the top two all season too. Following the damage he received at the start to his front wing, Vettel was forced to pit, emerging in last place. From there he had to fight his way through the field, though it was clear all was not well with his Ferrari due to a broken floor. Ferrari took the opportunity to try something a little different with the strategy, which appeared to be an inspired decision when they pitted Vettel with 20 laps remaining to set the stage for a grandstand finish.
Ricciardo, Perez, and Ocon were running in a train ahead of Vettel when he pitted for fresher tyres in an attempt to catch them on fresher rubber at the end. Despite keeping Ocon out longer at the only stop, and putting him on the same tyres as Ricciardo, Force India were unable to get Perez to listen to the team suggestion he move out of the way to give Ocon the chance to take the fight to Ricciardo for the podium. Instead Perez appealed to the team to give him three laps to attempt an overtake himself on the Red Bull ahead of him. Three laps came and went without a move from Perez, though he refused to move out of the way for Ocon. This cat fighting among the pink panthers allowed Ricciardo to break DRS from them, as well as give Vettel the opportunity to catch up.
With just a few laps left Vettel closed in and then pounced, launching a gutsy move into the first corner on Ocon as he slithered up the inside and forced the startled French youngster off track. Ocon’s team mate Perez stood absolutely no chance against Vettel, and was a sitting duck on the penultimate lap for Vettel to pass. The result was a fifth and sixth finish for Force India with Perez ahead of Ocon, much to the Frenchman’s disappointment. Meanwhile Vettel’s team mate Kimi Raikkonen finished in seventh place after suffering a break by wire failure in the closing stages of the race. On a track that has such a high break wear issue it was not a surprise to see Raikkonen suffer with break issues. Though it was disappointing as Raikkonen was also in the battle with the Force India’s and Red Bull till his failure. He did well to keep the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg behind him at the end, who had to settle for an eighth place finish.
Elsewhere it was a good day for the Williams of Lance Stroll, who scored his first points in F1 as the Canadian youngster claimed ninth for Williams at his home race. His team mate Felipe Massa however, did not fair as well. The Brazilian was an unwitting victim in an accident at the start with the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz and the Haas of Romain Grosjean. The Toro Rosso clashed with the Haas at the start a few times, eventually sending Sainz into a wall. He skimmed along the track out of control and collected Massa on his way to retirement. Prompting the safety car to be deployed. Grosjean escaped the tussle relatively unharmed and drove on to finish the race tenth, scoring the one World Championship point. Grosjean was helped by the fact that a handful of laps before the end of the race, once again, Fernando Alonso was let down by his Honda engine and had to retire from a point finishing position. Alonso’s retirement means McLaren remain the only team on the grid without a single point this season, and have fuelled the ongoing speculation that McLaren are on the verge of divorcing Honda.
Overall the race today was definitely a good one. Canada normally produces one of the more interesting races of the season, and while the Mercedes duo did scamper off into the distance only to appear on out TV to lap someone or to show receiving the chequered flag, there was plenty of action and drama going on behind them to more than make up for that fact. From watching the two Force India’s fighting with one another, to Vettel’s fight back through the field, and Stroll getting his first F1 points at his home Grand Prix, there really were a lot of good stories up and down the grid today. A fact OM’s manager Jordan Groves was quick to point out. “Really entertaining race. Storming drive by Hamilton and Mercedes to capitalise on Ferrari’s troubles. Shame that Verstappen was put out of the running early on as he could’ve been in that fight for the podium. Shame for Ocon that he wasn’t allowed to contend for the podium also. All in all, great race, looking forward to Baku!”
Ignoring what I can only assume is a possible sarcastic remark about the next race in Baku, I’m inclined to agree with Jordan. After the rather dismal race by Mercedes in Monaco the team needed to come here and win big, Hamilton especially, and that is exactly what they did. Capitalising on the mistakes of Ferrari and controlling the race from the front as they did so easily for the last three seasons. It is worth noting that is the first Mercedes 1-2 of the season, which if you’d told me that this time last season I wouldn’t have believed you at all. This weekend showed us that while the WO8 is a diva, when it gets into the rhythm it is every inch as unbeatable as its predecessors. It’s worth noting we’re about to enter a series of tracks that have played into the hands of Mercedes in the last few seasons. Perhaps this could be the point where Hamilton’s championship fight comes alive.
I’ll leave you now with my highlight of the weekend, and it’s good news if you’re a McLaren fan. The team stormed to victory in the F1 raft race competition, finishing ahead of Toro Rosso and Sauber. I can’t help but feel they may have cheated slightly considering they had a member of the team who achieved a silver at the Olympics for team GB in the rowing in Beijing 2008. But then again, after all the trouble the team have had with their Honda engine, I think they have well and truly earned some victory champagne.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) June 10, 2017
Canadian GP Race Result
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:33.05.153
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes,
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull,
4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari,
5. Sergio Perez, Force India,
6. Esteban Ocon, Force India,
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari,
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault,
9. Lance Stroll, Williams, +1 lap
10. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +1 lap
11. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +1 lap
12. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 lap
13. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +1 lap
14. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +1 lap
15. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, +2 laps
16. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, DNF
17. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, DNF
18. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, DNF
19. Felipe Massa, Williams, DNF
20. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, DNF
Feature Image Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Press Release