Masterful Hamilton triumphs in Canada to make it seven from seven
10 June, 2012
Jun.10 (Apex) Lewis Hamilton drove a masterful race to win the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix to become the seventh diffferent winner out of seven races this year, taking his 18th career victory at the very venue where he scored his first ever F1 win back in 2007 – the victory also catapults him to the top of the points standings.
Romain Grosjean erased his first lap nightmare of Monaco to take second place with a well calculated race from seventh on the grid in his Lotus, to score his best ever grand prix result.
Also scoring his second career podium was Sergio Perez, who from 15th on the grid and finished third for Sauber after a late race charge.
Hamilton looked up for it right from the start of first practice on Friday, and his delight as he crossed the line to score his first win of the season was obvious, as it was palpable on the podium – a real racer who delights in the fight to win.
Hamilton made a good start as did pole sitter Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso who started from third. The trio sped off into the distance, setting the early pace. Vettel trying hard to break away but to no avail as Hamilton and Alonso hung in behind the Red Bull. They held station until the first round of stops, with Vettel charging into the pits on lap 17 for his first stop with the Brit and the Spaniard breathing down his neck.
This prompted Hamilton to put his head down and churn out a bunch of hot laps, on pretty wasted rubber, before he too pitted a couple of laps later. McLaren pitstops these days are agonising to witness, and again their was a brief fumble as Hamilton lost a split second moving out of his box, but he nevertheless rejoined just in front of Vettel.
Next to stop was Alonso and he emerged just in front of Hamilton, whose tyres were by then in the optimum operating zone, with Alonso’s still getting up to temperature. The Englishman was patient for a few laps and pounced to overtake the Ferrari on lap 20. Ahead of him was Grosjean who had not yet stopped and only did so on lap 22 – the Frenchman would dial himself in later in the race.
From that point on Hamilton was in control of the race, which he never really relinquished until the end.
However there was still a ton of work to do before the 2007 and 2010 winner at Montreal would savour the victory. On lap 49 he pitted for his second and final stop, rejoining in third and a dozen or so seconds down on Alonso the leader and Vettel in second.
At this point Ferrari and Red Bull both decided to take a big gamble, and stay out in an attempt to make it to the finish with just one stop. When this dawned on Hamilton (and McLaren) the 2008 world champion rose to the occasion. He kept his cool and started dishing out fastest lap after fastest lap – reeling in the duo up front, who were suffering with severely degraded tyres, at an impressive rate.
Hamilton easily dispensed of Vettel on lap 62 in the DRS zone, and a few laps later did the same with Alonso. The race was won. Thereafter he coasted home to take his first win of the year. A masterful display of driving.
“I knew today would be a tough, tough race. I loved every single minute of it and I’m really very, very grateful. I never had a doubt in mind that there would … be a possibility to win. I was thinking they [Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso] were falling behind and I assumed [that] they [would be] doing a one-stop so I decided to keep pushing. We had a couple of problems during the stops, they may have been my fault I don’t know, otherwise the stops were great,” said Hamilton afterwards.
The shift to one stop gamble backfired mightily for both Alonso and Vettel, although the reigning world champion threw in the towel and darted into the pits for some fresh super soft rubber with half a dozen laps to go and managed to claw his way back to fourth. The gamble had cost him third place.
The loss was greater for Alonso who looked set for second, but the gamble dropped him down to fifth by the time the race ended.
Meanwhile Grosjean kept a cool head to claim second place after a flawless performance on his first visit to the tricky Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Grosjean summed up his afternoon in Montreal, “We thought about going for one stop and seeing what happened. The car felt pretty good. I was in a battle with Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg for a long time but I didn’t know what they were doing. When Webber came in, I didn’t realise I was third but my tyres were quite fresh. Then suddenly I went past Fernando Alonso who was slowing, and I was second. It was a crazy race. The team did a fantastic job in giving me a car that was good on its tyres. We knew with the heat today we would be better. It’s fantastic.”
Equally impressive was Perez’s tyre conservation and his tenacious attack on Alonso at the end. A well deserved podium for the Mexican – starting from 15th – who was also racing in Montreal for the first time.
Perez said afterwards, “When you start 15th on the grid, you don’t expect to get a podium finish. We went off very aggressively, and I managed to overtake a few cars with some difficult manoeuvres. The tyre degradation was not bad for me, and I managed to keep moving up the field. After such a bad day yesterday, when we had so much trouble with the brakes, this was a great boost for the team.”
Nico Rosberg finished sixth, but the Mercedes team will be scratching their heads trying to figure out why they could not turn their obvious pace into race win contention, while studying how the DRS mechanism on Michael Schumacher’s car could fail and end the seven time world champion’s race prematurely. Not a good weekend for the Silver Arrows.
Mark Webber ran as high as fourth early on, but the RB8 appeared to be harsh on the Pirelli tyres and seventh was as good as it got for the Australian who joined his team mate Vettel for a plunge in the Olympic boating lake near the track to cool off after the race.
Kimi Raikkonen was completely outshone by his younger and less experienced team mate. The Finn, who won the 2005 Canadian GP, was never a real factor in the race and will perhaps take some comfort that he at least finished eighth despite starting from 12th on the grid.
Also failing to match his less experienced teammate was Kamui Kobayashi who nevertheless made it a double points score for the Sauber squad, by finishing ninth.
Felipe Massa took home the final point, but will be regretting a mistake early on in the race while in fifth place. On lap five the Brazilian spun in Turn 2, dropping down to 12th. He spent the rest of the afternoon playing catch up.
Also disappointing after promising so much were the Force India pair of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg who finished 11th and 12th respectively. With Di Resta starting eighth, they would have been expecting at least one car in the points. Indeed, the plucky Scot was runningly strongly as high as fifth, early on.
Last year’s race winner Jenson Button endured a miserable weekend in Montreal, he never recovered from a wasted Friday where he spent more time in the McLaren pit garage than out on track and was simply not a factor in the race. Nothing worked for the 2009 world champion all weekend long – he trundled home in 16th.
In the end it was an important victory for Hamilton, perhaps even a vital one, and one that sees him now take command of the world championship points standings.
“It’s still sinking in. It’s been five years since I first won here but it feels just as good. I’m massively proud of the team for continuing to push. It feels great to finally be here on the top step. It feel like one of best races I’ve had for a very long time,” reflected Hamilton.
Undoubtedly the most astounding fact is that in seven races so far this season we have enjoyed seven different winners – unprecedented, historic, amazing!
Subbed by AJN.
Canadian Grand Prix – Sunday, 10 June 2012
|2||10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||70||+2.5 secs||7||18|
|3||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||70||+5.2 secs||15||15|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||70||+7.2 secs||1||12|
|5||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||70||+13.4 secs||3||10|
|6||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||70||+13.8 secs||5||8|
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||70||+15.0 secs||4||6|
|8||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||70||+15.5 secs||12||4|
|9||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||70||+24.4 secs||11||2|
|10||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||70||+25.2 secs||6||1|
|11||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||+37.6 secs||8|
|12||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||+46.2 secs||13|
|13||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||+47.0 secs||22|
|14||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||+64.4 secs||14|
|15||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||+1 Lap||19|
|16||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||+1 Lap||10|
|17||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||+1 Lap||16|
|18||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||+1 Lap||17|
|19||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||+1 Lap||18|
|20||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||+3 Lap||23|
|Ret||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||+14 Lap||21|
|Ret||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||+27 Laps||9|
|Ret||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||+46 Laps||20|
|Ret||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||+48 Laps||24|
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