The result of the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix was determined by the FIA Stewards, with Lewis Hamilton awarded his victory after Sebastian Vettel was controversially issued a five-second time penalty.
Vettel converted his hard-won pole position into the race lead at the start, holding sway over Hamilton up to and beyond the cycle of pit stops. With the pair both switching to Hard compound tyres to see out the race, the Ferrari driver came under increasing pressure by the chasing Mercedes and made a mistake under braking for the Turn 3/4 chicane.
Losing the back end of his car, Vettel tripped over the grass and took a shortcut across the chicane. Hamilton tried to capitalise, but Vettel – still not fully in control of his car – appeared not to see Hamilton as he returned to the circuit. Facing either contact with Vettel or with the wall lining that part of the circuit, Hamilton was forced to lift off the throttle.
To most watching, it appeared to be nothing more than a racing incident. Vettel had made yet another driving error under pressure and Mercedes-AMG quite rightly asked for the incident to be reviewed by the FIA Stewards.
Their decision – to issue a five-second time penalty to Vettel for unsafely returning to the circuit – destroyed what had been an exciting battle between two of the sport’s giants. Unable to pull out enough of a gap to Hamilton, Vettel crossed the finish line 1.3 seconds clear of the Englishman but his penalty demoted him to second place, narrowly ahead of his fast-closing teammate Charles Leclerc.
Confused and angry, Vettel stopped his car at the entry to the pits in defiance of post-race protocol for the top-three finishers to park under the podium. After being weighed by the FIA scrutineers, he stormed off to the Ferrari hospitality unit and it appeared like he would boycott the podium in protest. Only the intervention of more FIA personnel and his media minder could conjure him back out to pit lane.
Before he joined Hamilton and Leclerc in the cool-down room, he cheekily went to where Hamilton’s car was parked – and where his should have been – and swapped the ‘2’ board (designated for the second placed finisher) in front of Hamilton’s car while putting the ‘1’ board in front of the empty space where his SF90 should have been.
Vettel could rightly, in his own mind and seemingly among the majority of the fans in attendance, claim to be the moral victor.
He did join Hamilton and Leclerc on the podium for the traditional festivities, but his expression betrayed his fury at how events had unfolded. Hamilton invited him to join him on the top step of the podium – Vettel briefly indulged him – and empathised with his rival, having himself had victory at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix stripped from him for essentially the same offence.
“That’s not the way I wanted to win but I would’ve been past,” Hamilton said, to boos from the crowd. To his credit, Vettel appealed to the fans not to jeer his rival.
The race had been his and Ferrari’s. It looked finally as though Mercedes’ stranglehold of the 2019 season would be broken, but it was not to be. Ferrari had hoped it could narrow the huge gap to Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship standings and end Mercedes’ unbeaten run of victories this weekend. It had the quicker car pretty much all weekend, but the end result now sees the Scuderia are a mammoth 123 points behind the Silver Arrows and Vettel sitting a distant 62 points behind Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship fight.
Certainly the sport of Formula 1 was not the winner today.
Behind the drama, a largely processional race saw Leclerc claim third place. The Monégasque driver didn’t quite have the pace of his teammate nor Hamilton, and Ferrari kept him on a longer first stint in the hope that he could be brought back into the fight should a Safety Car appear.
That didn’t happen in the end, and his hold on the bonus point for the fastest lap of the race slipped from his grasp when the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas made a late dive for the pits to bolt on a set of Soft compound tyres with a few laps to go.
The Finn, now 29 points behind Hamilton after this race, had an indifferent weekend. A spin in qualifying saw him start from sixth and while he managed to leapfrog Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and the Red Bull Racing Honda of Pierre Gasly, Bottas will quickly need to reset before the French Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
Max Verstappen powered from ninth on the grid to finish fifth at the end of the 70-lap race. The Honda-powered RB15s were a distant ‘third best’ in the pecking order at this power-dependent circuit; teammate Gasly couldn’t maintain his fifth place on the grid and fell to eighth by the chequered flag.
Between the two Red Bulls were the two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg, who bagged a healthy haul of points in what was easily the outfit’s most competitive showing of the season.
Ninth place went to Lance Stroll, with the Canadian youngster driving superbly at his home race from seventeenth on the grid. In a mature and error-free performance, Stroll ran a long opening stint on the Hard compound tyres to work his way up the order as those around him pitted before him. A late race overtake on Carlos Sainz Jr was the cherry on the top, with Spaniard quickly losing tenth to the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.
In a race of surprisingly low attrition, Sainz and Kvyat’s respective teammates, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon, were the race’s only retirees. Norris was forced to park his McLaren at pit exit after an overheating brake disc melted his car’s right rear suspension, while Albon pitted at the end of the opening lap after damaging his front wing when it was dislodged by Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo. The Anglo-Thai driver soldiered on, but later retired with a separate issue.
|FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2019 – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (70 LAPS)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||78||1:29:07.084||25|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||78||+ 3.658||18|
|3.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||16||+ 4.696||15|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||78||+ 51.043||13|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||78||+ 57.655||10|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||69||1 lap behind||8|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||69||1 lap behind||6|
|8.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||69||1 lap behind||4|
|9.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||69||1 lap behind||2|
|10.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||69||1 lap behind||1|
|11.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||69||1 lap behind|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||69||1 lap behind|
|13.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||69||1 lap behind|
|14.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||69||1 lap behind|
|15.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||69||1 lap behind|
|16.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||68||2 laps behind|
|17.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||68||2 laps behind|
|18.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||67||3 laps behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||59||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||8||Suspension|
Points are awarded to the top 10 classified finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
Valtteri Bottas is awarded an additional 1 championship point for posting the fastest lap of the race by a points’ finisher.
- Sebastian Vettel – who was provisionally classified P1 – was issued a 5-second time penalty for rejoining the circuit in an unsafe manner which forced Lewis Hamilton to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
Image via Pirelli
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