By Gary Becker
After the debacle of Monaco where he didn't even make into the final qualifying session, Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes returned to their winning ways at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve were Hamilton won the pole, posted the fastest race lap, led every lap of the race and, by the way, won the race.
"It’s been such an incredible weekend." said Hamilton "I just couldn’t be happier with how it’s gone and I’m so grateful for this result. We came away from Monaco and we were scratching our heads, but we pulled together and look what we achieved. We came here with a much better understanding of the car and we delivered a real blow to the Ferraris. Valtteri did a fantastic job too and this is our first one-two finish together. We’ve scored a big load of solid points and it’s well deserved. It’s crazy to think I had my first pole and win here 10 years ago. The race actually felt very reminiscent of 2007, in terms of how it unfolded. It’s a long race here, especially when you’re out there on your own, but I knew the car would hold together and it did perfectly."
Hamilton jumped into the lead at lights out and began his drive to victory. Behind the Mercedes the start was not as smooth. Front row starter Sebastian Vettel did not get off to a great start in his Ferrari and was surrounded by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen who dove low to pass the slower Ferrari and clipped the front wing of Vettel's car. The incident sent Vettel to the pits a few laps later for a new wing which also sent him back to 18th place.
As Vettel's day went sour so did the day of Carlos Sainz and Felipe Massa. Sainz and Romain Grosjean made contact sending Sainz spinning and into the Williams of Massa ending the day for both.
"I am very unhappy with Carlos’ (Sainz) maneuver at the start – what he did to me going into turn three." said Grosjean "It was very, very dangerous. I’m glad the car didn’t have too much damage. We changed the front wing and got going again. It was a tough race. We needed a bit of luck at the end, which we got with Alonso retiring, and we managed to get a point. It’s great for the team, but we missed a bit of speed today.”
Verstappen's great start had vaulted him into the second place when suddenly his run ended when he lost all power in his Red Bull Racing car.
“The way the race ended for me was very frustrating after such a good start." said Verstappen "I think a podium was possible but once again we come away with nothing. The start was really good, straight away I felt no wheel spin and could just put the power down and make some places. I had a little bit of contact with Seb (Vettel) on the first corner, running wide there means it can sometimes happen. From there on the pace felt good and I was looking after the tires and brakes as we had no chance of catching Lewis. I was just concentrating on doing my own race when I suddenly lost all power and everything shut down. I have had a lot of disappointments recently, I guess that’s racing but sometimes you get tired of it.”
With Hamilton well out in front and his Mercedes teammate no threat attention turned to Vettel and his rise through the field. From is 18th position Vettel systematically worked through the field and as the race worked to its conclusion Vettel had caught the two Sahara Force Indian cars of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez who were battling between themselves for position. Ocon had worked his way up to second place during the first half of the race. When Vettel caught the two they fighting for a possible podium position with Perez leading Ocon who was complaining over the radio that Perez was slowing Ocon down. Perez refused to let the younger driver by and as the two fought for position they fell into the clutches of Vettel who passed Ocon and then Perez.
“I’m pleased to come away with fifth place because it was a very intense afternoon." said Perez "For nearly the whole race I was running close behind Riccardo in his DRS window and waiting for my opportunity to overtake. I could see he was struggling in certain areas and, as we started to come through the lapped traffic, I thought I deserved the chance to try and overtake him. I tried my best and really pushed hard, but it just wasn’t possible to make the move. It was the same situation with Esteban behind me for almost half the race, but it was only on the final lap that he got really close to me when we were lapping Ericsson. I knew Esteban had better tire life because my engineers made me aware of the situation and I replied by asking the team to simply let us race. I think the team was fair and respected my view. The team always comes first and we raced hard, but fair. I always give my best and I’m very happy we could come away with so many points from this race.”
Ocon's view, “As a team we scored really important points today, but I am a bit frustrated by this result because I feel a podium may have been possible. This is the way racing goes and we have to look at the positives: we had a great car that allowed us to take the fight to Ferrari and Red Bull and that is quite impressive. I am confident it won’t be the last time we will fight at this level and it was an awesome feeling – a really enjoyable race. The team as a whole did a great job today - they gave me such a fast car and we can be proud of our work and of the points we have gained.”
Vettel's charge then ran out of laps putting the Ferrari in fourth behind Daniel Ricciardo at the checkered flag.
“I think my start was not particularly good but at the same time not that bad either." said Vettel "The car was good, I think it was clear that today we could have been better than fourth, but that’s how we finished and what is done is done. Overall, we know we have a strong car. Looking back at the start, Bottas and I were trying to go from the inside when Max came around but these things can happen. Then, with the safety car on track I did not realize that the damage to the front wing was as bad as it actually was, we only noticed it at full speed. There was also some additional damage to other parts of the bodywork, hard to say what they cost me in terms of lap time, but the car did not feel as the one I had driven in the past two days. Yet the pace was there and I would have liked some more laps to finish on the podium, the trophy here looked nice… That was my target and I missed it. But we are growing up as a team.”
Another notable drive was that of William's and home-country favorite Lance Stroll who finished ninth scoring points for the first time in his short and much maligned career.
"I am just happy for myself, for the team, for everyone." said Stroll "The balance of the car was good all race. I was in a flow. I knew we had good straight line speed in the Williams. I chose my overtakes at the right times, sometimes I could have done them a lap earlier, but it was a bit risky so I did it a lap later and stayed patient. James, my engineer, was giving me good communications throughout the whole race about what was happening around us. We just stayed cool headed and took it to the end and P9. It was about things falling into place and getting everything to work with no issues and being able to do the pace we know how to do. It means the world to me being able to finish a race in the points and be able to see those Canadian flags up in the air at my race."
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