World Champion Sebastian Vettel drove a textbook race in Montreal this afternoon to add the Canadian Grand Prix to his burgeoning CV.
The North American event has eluded the German, with his 2011 defeat in the rain at the hands of McLaren’s Jenson Button all too raw in the memory.
After starting from pole, he set about making some more positive memories of the circuit by obliterating his main rivals, including Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, the latter battling his way past Hamilton with less than 10 laps remaining after inexorably clawing his way up the order.
Despite a successful weekend of work for the top 3 finishers, there was frustration for many other drivers including Mark Webber, who survived several brushes with backmarkers to cross the line an eventual 4th. The Australian suffered contact with the Caterham of Giedo Van Der Garde when the Dutchman inexplicably moved across on the Red Bull at the hairpin and shattered the left-hand front wing endplate, earning himself a drive-thru penalty before retiring with damage later on.
Valtteri Bottas had started an excellent 3rd but quickly fell backwards, his race being run frustratingly slower than those around him with his Williams car lacking dry weather pace. Kimi Raikkonen was another to struggle, although the Finn’s 9th place after a low-key race ensured his run of points-scoring finishes dating back to China last April remains unbroken; his team-mate Romain Grosjean avoided incident unlike his action-filled Monaco race but only progressed from 22nd on the grid to 13th.
McLaren missed out on points for the first time since Abu Dhabi 2009 with a lacklustre performance ending with 11th and 12th places for Sergio Perez and Jenson Button respectively.
Paul Di Resta on the other hand enjoyed a meteoric rise through the field from 17th to 7th, running an astonishing 56 laps of the 70 lap race on his set of medium Pirelli tyres to make up for his disastrous qualifying session yesterday. Team-mate Adrian Sutil had a more event-filled race, surviving an early spin at the notorious turn 3 only to suffer contact with a late-breaking Pastor Maldonado at the hairpin just 2 laps later. The Venezuelan was handed a drive-thru penalty for his mistake, while Sutil struggled on with rear-wing damage to be struck with a (somewhat harsh) penalty of his own for appearing to be slow to obey blue flags – his day ended with a solitary point for 10th.
Sauber were left empty-handed after a double DNF, a rare occurrence in modern Formula One. Nico Hulkenberg retired with suspension damage after contact with the errant Van Der Garde, while Esteban Gutierrez lost control of his car exiting the pits with a mere 6 laps remaining on the board and speared into the turn 2 tyre wall.
An honourable mention must go to Frenchman Jean Eric Vergne, who hauled his Toro Rosso through the race consistently running competitive laptimes – he finished 6th to take his team’s best result since Vettel won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix in a Toro Rosso.
“I was pushing very hard, especially at the beginning of the race – I had a moment when I hit the wall, but I didn’t feel it; I was trying to get away from the field, as you don’t know what will happen towards the end. It turned out that we could control things in the later stages, but you don’t know that, so I was just trying to push all the time and stay in the rhythm. It was good to see that we were quick in all conditions this weekend and had speed in the race. We had average tyre wear, which hasn’t always been the case for us, so we have made a step forward there. It’s nice to win here, as it’s a very special race.” Sebastian Vettel
“We lost some time with Nico in the first stint, and the car was getting hot behind him in the slip stream. Once I got in free air, the car was handling much better. Then we had the incident with Giedo van der Garde which caused some front wing damage and made it more difficult; the whole top section of the wing was gone on the left hand side, so it didn’t help from then on. I don’t know what he was doing. We had a lot of blue flags as we approached the hair pin and I rolled to the inside, giving him plenty of space so he knew I was there, but when we got to the apex he tried to hit it; I don’t know what was going on with that.” Mark Webber
“The overtaking moves on the two Mercedes had an almost identical dynamic, although maybe the pass on Hamilton was more intense because we were running at the same pace, while with Rosberg, I knew it was only a matter of the laps going by, thanks to the advantage of having the medium tyres, while he was on the supersoft. In terms of points this is a great result: now we only have Vettel ahead of us, who was untouchable here and deserved the victory. Even if he has increased his lead, there’s still a long way to go in the championship and there’s plenty of time to catch up. I don’t know if I could have done better if I’d started further up.” Fernando Alonso
“The car felt fantastic today and I had good grip for the low-speed corners but we just weren’t quite on the pace of Seb and Fernando. I was on the maximum that I could possibly drive and we got absolutely everything out of the car today. It would have been nice to have kept second place of course but Fernando was very quick today and it was difficult to keep him behind. I got close to taking the place back but he was just that little bit too fast. Still I’m very pleased with third place and it was a strong points-scoring day for the team with Nico’s fifth place as well.” Lewis Hamilton
“I didn’t manage to get any long run data on Friday so it feels extra sweet to make this one-stop strategy work with a very long stint on the mediums. It also feels good to come back so strong after a difficult qualifying session. The tyres lasted very well, the lap times were competitive and the team told me it was my decision about when to make my stop. As soon as I felt the tyres starting to drop off, I came in. Then it was a case of looking after the supersofts for the final few laps.” Paul Di Resta
“With hindsight, I think we’d have been better off starting on the prime tyre, rather than the option. During my first stint, all the two-stoppers pitted ahead of me, then came back to overtake me, so it was a bit tricky. However, we showed today that, irrespective of strategy, we wouldn’t have gone any faster. Our car tends to work better on fast and flowing circuits – such as Malaysia or China – so I’m looking forward to my home race at Silverstone at the end of the month. We tried some new parts this weekend, but they weren’t really suited for this type of circuit – they should work better at Silverstone, so I’m feeling positive about the future.” Jenson Button
“We started on the medium tyre and ran long for just under 40 laps. I was quite pleased with how well we were managing the tyres even late on in that stint, so a good job from my engineers who were working with me to achieve that, enabling me to still be able to push hard on the last few laps before we pitted for the supersoft. The early part of the second stint worked well but later on I was struggling with the tyre wear and I wasn’t able to defend my position from Pic.” Max Chilton
“Incredible! I’m very happy. The best result for me of course, but also the highest finishing position since Vettel’s results for the team in 2008. It is even more satisfying, because it was a normal race in the dry, with no one going out in front of me so we achieved this position fair and square. It’s a great result for the team as we are making progress race by race and it’s very encouraging for the rest of the season. It wasn’t too complicated, because we had the pace to maintain that position, although we did not have the speed of those ahead. I passed Bottas and Raikkonen and from then I managed my race, keeping an eye on Sutil who was behind me for much of the time. That meant I could never ease up until the flag. After finishing eighth in Monaco, this result on another difficult track has boosted my confidence and I feel I have progressed as a driver.” Jean Eric Vergne
“My race didn’t start very well and then my brakes were fading with the pedal going soft; similar to the problem we had on Friday. It wasn’t ideal but at least the brakes were good enough to slow me down for the corners. Unfortunately though it meant I lost a lot of time and wasn’t able to attack, plus we lost a few seconds in the pit stop which obviously didn’t help either. Most of my race was just following the cars in front and defending from those behind, so not the most enjoyable day nor the most enjoyable result. It’s been a bad weekend, but at least we scored a few points.” Kimi Raikkonen
“Today wasn’t a good day for me. I want to say sorry to Mark for the incident we had and I’ll make sure I learn from the stewards’ decision on the five-place penalty for the next race. Sometimes you make mistakes, but the important thing is to accept them, learn from them and move on.” Giedo Van Der Garde
RESULTS – CANADIAN GRAND PRIX
|7||Di Resta||GBR||Force India||6|
|22||Van Der Garde||NED||Caterham||Accident Damage|