A first-corner incident for championship leader Sebastian Vettel has helped Lewis Hamilton to close down the German’s points’ advantage with a dominant Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix victory on Sunday.
With teammate Valtteri Bottas finishing in second place to give Mercedes its first 1-2 finish of the season, the Brackley squad returned to the lead of the Constructors’ Championship standings in their tight battle with Ferrari.
After a sensational run to claim his 65th career pole position on Saturday, a confident Hamilton made a textbook getaway to lead the field on the short sprint to Turns 1 and 2.
Vettel’s getaway was poorer; he tucked behind Hamilton and tried to fend off Bottas into the left-hander, but an enterprising Max Verstappen rounded the pair of them on the outside and turned across the Ferrari driver’s front wing and damaging a number of its elements in the process.
As the pack funneled through the opening third of the lap, there was more drama when Carlos Sainz Jr was tipped into an uncontrollable spin on approach to Turn 3 by Haas’ Romain Grosjean. The Toro Rosso driver headed backwards at speed towards the corner, side-swiping an disbelieving Felipe Massa and putting both he and the Williams driver out of the race.
Sainz would ultimately be declared at fault for triggering the incident and was hit with a three-place grid penalty for the next Grand Prix in Azerbaijan in a fortnight’s time.
It would not be the only drama for Scuderia Toro Rosso, which walked away from Canada with a double-DNF. Sainz’s teammate Daniil Kvyat stalled on the parade lap and incorrectly returned to his eleventh-placed grid slot rather than the rear of the field as the rules dictate. The Russian should have been hit with a 10-second stop/go penalty per the Sporting Regulations, but the FIA Stewards incorrectly issued him with a drive-through penalty and later made him serve a ten-second hold when he pitted.
The subsequent pit stop saw his pit crew encounter a wheelnut issue, further delaying a now furious Kvyat and ultimately prompting his retirement from the race. Kvyat later branded the FIA Stewards’ decision-making “a stupid f**king circus” in an unwise spray that should earn him further sanctions.
The Sainz-Massa incident triggered a full-course Safety Car so the damage could be cleared away. As the race was ready to be green-flagged, Vettel’s damaged front wing began to disintegrate.
After holding on for a lap to assess the impact to his car’s handling, Vettel wisely decided to peel into the pits at the end of Lap 5 for a new front wing and a set of Super Soft tyres.
Out on front, Hamilton continued to ease away from Verstappen after the restart, but the Dutch teenager’s frustrating run of bad luck continued when his Red Bull RB13 suddenly expired with an electrical cut-out on Lap 11.
That promoted Bottas to second place ahead of the sole remaining Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who ran narrowly ahead of Sergio Pérez, Kimi Räikkönen and Esteban Ocon.
Bottled in behind Pérez, Räikkönen was the first of the frontrunners to pit on Lap 17 in the hope of undercutting the Mexican and Ricciardo by pitting early and switching to Super Soft tyres.
Ricciardo followed suit a lap later to cover the Finn, switching to the more durable Soft rubber and emerging ahead of the Ferrari. Pérez also pitted, switching to Super Soft tyres at the end of Lap 19 and slotting in behind Ricciardo but ahead of Räikkönen.
Hamilton and Bottas continued to run 1-2 until Bottas pitted for Softs at the end of Lap 23, emerging behind Ocon’s Force India which was yet to pit and now up to second place. The Frenchman drove masterfully on an alternate strategy, keeping Bottas at bay until he pitted at the end of Lap 32 when he followed Hamilton into pit lane.
Bottas’ delay behind Ocon guaranteed that Hamilton could pit and emerge with his lead unchallenged. The Englishman moved to Super Softs and was able to extend his lead over his teammate on the grippier rubber to almost 20 seconds by the chequered flag.
The battle for third place proved to be the major focus for the second half of the race, with Ricciardo somehow able to hold off the quicker Force India and Ferrari runners.
Again unable to find a way past Pérez, Räikkönen pitted for a second time at the end of Lap 41 and returned to Ultra Soft rubber in the hope that he could challenge in the closing stages.
Vettel, having climbed back up the field, stayed in sixth place for a further eight laps before following suit as thew fresher-shod Räikkönen rapidly began to close down the pack.
He rejoined in seventh behind Räikkönen with the prediction from Ferrari’s engineers that the pair of them should be back in the battle for the podium by the race’s final eight laps.
The pace of the chasing Ferraris was creating a dilemma for Force India, who had Pérez holding up a clearly quicker Ocon and unable to find a way to challenge Ricciardo.
A podium finish was potentially theirs, with its more realistic shot lying with Ocon having a go at Ricciardo. Despite repeated negotiations over the pit-to-team radio, Pérez refused requests to let his teammate ahead.
It would consequently prove to be the team’s undoing. Vettel and Räikkönen were relentlessly closing down the pair, but all was not well in the latter’s Ferrari as the 2007 World Champion started to encounter a brake-by-wire issue.
On Lap 60, Räikkönen overshot the final chicane and was forced to cede sixth to Vettel as he rejoined the circuit. Hobbled by an incurable problem, he dropped out of the running and focused on nursing his wounded Ferrari home in seventh place.
That left Vettel to close down the Force Indias unhindered, and by Lap 65 he was on their tail. Ocon was still unable to find his way past an obstinate Pérez, and after a forceful blocking move by the Mexican, Ocon was overwhelmed by Vettel who staged a brave passing move into Turn 1.
Pérez was passed by Vettel for fourth on the final lap, and once again forcefully blocked Ocon on the approach to the final chicane as the youngster staged one last-ditch overtaking attempt. The pair crossed the line fifth and sixth, but the post-race debrief was certainly going to be frosty.
Behind the hobbled Räikkönen, Nico Hülkenberg finished eighth in a race where the German repeatedly showed his overtaking prowess despite stretching his Super Soft tyres to a 58-lap stint following an early pit stop.
Ninth place went to an overjoyed Lance Stroll, who delighted his local fans with his first points’ finish. The youngster has been under considerable pressure with a poor start to his rookie campaign, but will have proven some of the doubters wrong with a tidy and measured performance.
Tenth place should have been claimed by Fernando Alonso, who drove a magnificent race despite the clear straight-line limitations of his McLaren. The Spaniard ran as high as fifth in his 42-lap opening stint on Ultra Soft tyres and proved completely fearless in engaging with wheel-to-wheel battles with his much quicker rivals. Predictably, however, his Honda engine would conspire to continue McLaren’s point-less streak and he stopped with four laps of the race to run.
That gave tenth place and the final point to Romain Grosjean, who staged his own recovery drive after his first-lap clash with Sainz. The Frenchman narrowly held off the Renault of Jolyon Palmer in the final laps.
Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen finished twelfth after being given a five-second time penalty for overtaking under Virtual Safety Car conditions – despite redressing his error almost immediately – and was engaged in a number of fierce scraps where he showcased his skills at making his Haas-Ferrari about twelve feet wide.
The Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein finished thirteenth and fifteenth respectively, sandwiching McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
|FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2017 – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (70 LAPS)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||70||1:33:05.154|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||70||+ 19.783|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||70||+ 35.297|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||70||+ 35.907|
|5.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||70||+ 40.476|
|6.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||70||+ 40.716|
|7.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||70||+ 58.632|
|8.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||70||+ 1:00.374|
|9.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||69||1 lap behind|
|10.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||69||1 lap behind|
|11.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||69||1 lap behind|
|12.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||69||1 lap behind|
|13.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||69||1 lap behind|
|14.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||69||1 lap behind|
|15.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||68||2 laps behind|
|16.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||66||Engine|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||55||Wheel|
|DNF.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||10||Electrical|
|DNF.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||0||Collision|
|DNF.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||0||Collision|
Images via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and Sahara Force India F1 Team