Sebastian Vettel wins Canadian Grand Prix on the 50th of career as rival Lewis Hamilton surrenders championship lead with a point.
Lewis Hamilton’s radio persona had taken on a despairing air long before the Canadian Grand Prix was over and the inquest began into the possible death of the Mercedes super-team.
The brutal fact is that Hamilton started his afternoon at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve leading the world championship by 14 points. By the end, after an engine problem condemned him to finish fifth, he was trailing the winner Sebastian Vettel by one.
Here, of all places, on the track where Hamilton registered the first win of his career, and five more, the mask of Mercedes’ invulnerability slipped a little more than it already has this season. Maintaining the lofty standards they have set over four years of total dominance is a mighty hard task – and that is how it is beginning to look seven races into a finely balanced title fight.
CANADIAN GRAND PRIX RESULTS AND STANDINGS
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1hr 28mins 31.377secs
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:28:38.753
3 Max Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1:28:39.737
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:28:52.269
5 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1:28:52.936
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:28:58.561
7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault at 1 Lap
8 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault at 1 Lap
9 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India at 1 Lap
10 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber at 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso at 1 Lap
12 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas at 1 Lap
13 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas at 1 Lap
14 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India at 1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber at 2 Laps
16 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren at 2 Laps
17 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams at 2 Laps
Not Classified: 18 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 40 Laps completed, 19 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Scuderia Toro Rosso 0 Laps completed, 20 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 0 Laps completed
Fastest Lap: Max Verstappen 1min 13.864secs on Lap 65
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 121pts
2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 120
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 86
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 84
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 68
6 Max Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 50
7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 32
9 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault 24
10 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas 19
11 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso 18
12 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 17
13 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 11
14 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber 10
15 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 8
16 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 4
17 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber 2
18 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Toro Rosso 1
19 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams 0
Constructors: 1 Mercedes 206pts, 2 Ferrari 189, 3 Red Bull 134, 4 Renault 56, 5 McLaren 40, 6 Force India 28, 7 Toro Rosso 19, 8 Haas 19, 9 Sauber 12, 10 Williams 4
Note: Race shortened to 68 laps due to the Chequered flag being shown at the end of Lap 69.
Vettel’s win was the 50th of his career, and excited huge passion among a crowd that loves Ferrari, not least with the older Villeneuve being one of the Scuderia’s most cavalier heroes.
‘Perfect,’ said Vettel. ‘It was a really good win.
‘There is still a long way to go in the championship but taking the lead is a good side-effect. It is very emotional to be here at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. A day to remember the great Gilles.’
It was Villeneuve who won here in 1978 and his son Jacques drove his father’s old car around the track before the race. Vettel’s win ended a long wait for a Ferrari win, stretching back to Michael Schumacher in 2004.
Montreal has served up humdingers over the years but this was not one of them. No wonder Canadian model Winne Harlow, a friend of Hamilton, waved the chequered flag a lap early. Who could blame her?
Hartley, who was later taken to hospital for a scan, and Stroll both ended up in the run-off area after the sparks had flown. A safety car came out but made no difference to the ordering.
While Stroll did nothing to honour the name of the once-great team he drives for, a similar story of decline was unfolding at McLaren. This weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the team’s founder Bruce McLaren’s first win, yet they were nowhere.
Fernando Alonso qualified only 14th for his 300th race and retired with an exhaust problem. Before the race, a ceremony was held in recognition of the Spaniard’s landmark achievement, but that was the high point for him.
McLaren should ponder why they are now further behind the Renault team, who supply engines identical to theirs, than they were during the first qualifying session in Melbourne.
Considering an expansion into IndyCars at a point they should be focused on Formula One improvement, is a ridiculous sideshow they should abandon.