Sebastian Vettel produced an almost faultless drive to claim a lights to flag victory at the Canadian Grand Prix and extend his World Championship lead over Fernando Alonso, who came home second ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
But the day was marked with tragedy as a 38 year old marshal was killed while recovering the damaged car of Esteban Gutierrez. He was hit by a mobile crane and died of head injuries.
He made a small mistake into Turn One on Lap 52, running down the escape road and losing four seconds in the process, but it was the only time he put a foot wrong all weekend.
It was Vettel’s 29th career win and the third of this season. He extended his championship lead over Fernando Alonso to 36 points.
With the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve one of few tracks that Vettel and Red Bull have yet to claim a victory on, the World Champions were never threatened as they extended their lead in both Championship’s and now have a strangle-hold as they chase a fourth consecutive their fourth title. Red Bull now has 201 points after seven races, an average of 28 points a race.
The points advantage to those behind could have been greater were it not for another strong drive from Alonso, who passed Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton to keep himself within touching distance of the German.
Vettel would have been hoping for some assistance from those behind to keep the Ferrari at bay, but as we have come to expect the Spaniard moved his way through from his sixth position start to limit the points loss to the Red Bull driver, in the process leap-frogging Kimi Raikkonen in the Championship.
Raikkonen – after bring dropped back on the grid due to a misdemeanor in qualifying - was stuck in the middle of the pack for much of the race and the pace that Lotus promised in Free Practice never developed in to a podium challenge come the Grand Prix. He ended the race in ninth position and is now fourty-four points behind Vettel in the Championship.
Vettel had the race under control from the start; he had already cleared the DRS detection margin over the second car after the opening lap and was untouchable throughout the race. The battles behind drew more attention as the tyre issues that Mercedes have suffered during this first half of the season continued to hamper them. They held second and third places during the first stint of the race, but a decision to split strategies and put Rosberg on a second set of the super soft tyre – as the rest switched to the clearly superior medium – saw the German fall in to the clutches of Webber and Alonso and be prompted in to an early second stop.
The time Webber and Alonso lost behind Rosberg gave the sister Mercedes of Hamilton a ten second buffer over Webber and Alonso. But after making his way past Webber, in the closing stages Alonso quickly latched on to the tail of a struggling Hamilton and made his way past in the closing laps.
Hamilton was able to maintain his position until the chequered flag with Webber and Rosberg following him across the line, albeit with some distance between each position.
Hamilton lapping his old team McLaren was a poignant moment; McLaren did a poor job in qualifying, with Button missing his chance to do a lap at the end of Q2. But in the race they tried a couple of different strategies which did not work as the car didn’t really have the pace here; odd since they’ve always been strong in Montreal and won the three previous editions of this race.
Along with Vettel and Alonso the other main contenders for driver of the day come in the form of Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul Di Resta. The Frenchman made his way past third-place starter Valtteri Bottas early in the race and drove away from a large group behind, eventually coming home in sixth place.
After a poor qualifying, Paul Di Resta opted to start on the medium compound tyre and did not make a pit stop until lap 57, where he made a single stop for the super soft compound and gave Force India some good points on his way to seventh in their 100th Grand Prix.
It wasn’t a thrilling race, but it was interesting tactically and there were some good battles.
But with Vettel and Red Bull on this kind of form, going to the next race in Silverstone which is traditionally a strong Red Bull track, it’s hard to see how the others can stop him.
CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, Montreal, Race
1. Vettel Red Bull 1h32:09.143
2. Alonso Ferrari + 14.408
3. Hamilton Mercedes + 15.942
4. Webber Red Bull + 25.731
5. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:09.725
6. Vergne Toro Rosso + 1 lap
7. Di Resta Force India + 1 lap
8. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap
9. Raikkonen Lotus + 1 lap
10. Sutil Force India + 1 lap
11. Perez McLaren + 1 lap
12. Button McLaren + 1 lap
13. Grosjean Lotus + 1 lap
14. Bottas Williams + 1 lap
15. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 2 laps
16. Maldonado Williams + 2 laps
17. Bianchi Marussia + 2 laps
18. Pic Caterham + 2 laps
19. Chilton Marussia + 3 laps
20. Gutierrez Sauber + 7 laps