Hamilton sticks to plan A and wins Canadian Grand Prix; seventh winner in 2012
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jun 2012   |  6:48 pm GMT  |  320 comments

Lewis Hamilton became the seventh different winner in seven Grands Prix this season with a cool headed drive on a day of strategy gambles.

It was his third Canadian Grand Prix win and the 18th of his career. It gave him the lead in the drivers’ championship by two points over Alonso and three points over Vettel. It was McLaren’s 13th win in Canada.

The victory was built on a two stop strategy which proved the right one, although it gave some nervous moments after his second stop, when it became clear that main rivals Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel were only stopping once. Getting the tyres switched on in the first lap was also crucial to Hamilton’s success. He and the team admitted after the race that they would not have been able to one stop with the energy they were putting into the tyres.

The pair however threw away podium finishes by risking a one-stop strategy. Instead, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez drove brilliantly and took second and third places. They too had one stopped, but with better tyre wear they had better pace at the end of the race. Perez started 15th and finished third.

Vettel finished fourth, ahead of Alonso, Rosberg and Webber.

Seven seconds covered the top four at the end. It was a thrilling finish to a race which had a lively first third and then a long period of inactivity.

“I want to dedicate this one to all the fans who send messages and are constantly sending messages and being supportive,” said Hamilton. “I loved every single minute of it. I never had a doubt that there wasn’t a possibility (of winning). I assumed the guys (Alonso and Vettel) were one stopping as they were falling behind.

“It’s been five years since I won for the first time here. But it feels just as good. This feels like one of the best races I’ve had for a long time.”

The temperature rose steadily in the moments running up to the start of the race and was 40 degrees when the race started, the highest it had been all weekend. This got team strategists thinking about the various ways the race might unfold depending on tyre degradation. Button, Raikkonen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Maldonado and De La Rosa all went for the soft tyre at the start.

At the start the top five got away in grid order with Vettel leading from pole, while Rosberg attacking Webber, who held him off into the first chicane.

Massa passed Rosberg at the end of lap two for fifth place and Di Resta took Rosberg for sixth a lap later. Massa undid all the good work by spinning and dropping down to 13th place.

Vettel had a 1.4 second lead over Hamilton in the first couple of laps, keeping him clear of the DRS zone.

The ease of making DRS passes might have influenced decision making on the pit wall, as a driver on worn tyres would clearly be vulnerable in the closing stages.

On lap 16 Hamilton and Alonso both got within the DRS zone of Vettel, Vettel pitted for new softs and Hamilton and Alonso put the hammer down.

Hamilton reacted and pitted the next lap, while Ferrari left Alonso out once again. Hamilton came out ahead of Vettel, despite a slow get away from the pit box.

Meanwhile Alonso went around again, as Vettel attacked Hamilton on lap 19. Alonso had done enough in his two laps to pass both Hamilton and Vettel and he emerged from his lap 19 pit stop ahead.

But Hamilton was in the DRS zone at the end of the lap and he passed him into the final corner at the end of lap 21. The softs took a little longer to come in than Alonso needed and Hamilton was able to make the decisive pass for the lead.

Grosjean led the race at this point, having not stopped, but he stopped on lap 21, giving Hamilton back the lead.

Hamilton looked stronger on the soft tyres in the second stint, relative to his pursuers. He pulled out 2.4 seconds in 3 laps and by lap 26 the gap was up to 2.6 seconds. He was now where he wanted to be, out front with a clear track ahead, which as we have seen all year, is extremely important to keeping the tyres in good shape.

Raikkonen and Perez were going well on the soft tyres in 4th and 5th, only five seconds behind the leader.

Hamilton drove away from Alonso and Vettel through the middle part of the race, the gap climbing to 3.7 seconds by lap 33.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery tweeted on lap 34 that the tyre wear was greater than in free practice, the right rear was the limitation and hence two stops were on the cards for the leaders.

Raikkonen and Perez, the two cars who were one stopping, made it to lap 40 before coming in, but Rosberg was able to resist both of them and despite Raikkonen getting ahead initially, he repassed him for P7.

Schumacher’s DRS rear wing got stuck open and he was forced to retire for the fifth time in seven races, yet more reliability issues for him and Mercedes. After missing his hot qualifying lap by hundredths of a second at the end of Q3, it was another highly frustrating weekend.

Hamilton’s gap to Alonso started to come down as the Ferrari again performed better at the end of the stint. Hamilton stopped on lap 50 and it was another slow stop for McLaren, he lost at least a second.

Hamilton responded by setting the fastest lap of the race to that point, keeping the gap down to below the crucial 15 second margin which Alonso would need to stop and rejoin ahead.

On lap 53 Alonso had a poor lap, 1.1 secs slower than Hamilton, which swung the balance back towards Hamilton. Vettel stayed out with Alonso.

With 15 laps to go, the thought occured that Alonso and Vettel might be one stopping. Hamilton had asked his team earlier in the second stint whether they were sure his rivals would be stopping again and they answered in the affirmative.

Hamilton was a second a lap faster than Alonso and Vettel as they missed the moment to make a stop.

There was some good racing between Rosberg, Massa, Perez, Webber and Raikkonen as the different levels of tyre degradation kicked in.

Hamilton reeled in Vettel and Alonso as it became clear that they were not going to stop again.

Hamilton caught Vettel and passed him easily on lap 63, then set off after Alonso.

Vettel pitted on lap 64, dropping behind Grosjean and Perez.

Hamilton passed Alonso for the race lead on lap 65 on much fresher tyres and with the DRS wing making overtaking very easy.

But Grosjean was now a threat to Alonso, lapping almost two seconds a lap faster than the Ferrari.

His tyres were only 2 laps younger than Alonso’s but he passed him easily, as Ferrari’s strategy gamble looked increasingly problematic.

On fresh tyres Vettel was pushing like mad and touched the wall on lap 68 but got away with it.

Perez passed Alonso on lap 68, despite also being on a one stop strategy. He had pitted on lap 41 for a set of supersofts and had pace at the end.

Vettel passed Alonso, demoting the leader at half distance to a 5th place finish.

The gentle action of the Lotus and the Sauber on the tyres had a significant effect as Grosjean and Perez also drove smoothly and fast to take the podiums at the end.

It was another disappointing race for Jenson Button, who finished 16th, a lap down on his team mate, having made three stops. He started the race in tenth place with the same tyres as Perez. With 45 points, he is now well adrift of Hamilton on 88 points.

CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, Montreal, 70 laps

1. Hamilton McLaren 1h32:29.586
2. Grosjean Lotus + 2.513
3. Perez Sauber + 5.260
4. Vettel Red Bull + 7.295
5. Alonso Ferrari + 13.411
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 13.842
7. Webber Red Bull + 15.085
8. Raikkonen Lotus + 15.567
9. Kobayashi Sauber + 24.432
10. Massa Ferrari + 25.272
11. Di Resta Force India + 37.693
12. Hulkenberg Force India + 46.236
13. Maldonado Williams + 47.052
14. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 1:04.475
15. Vergne Toro Rosso + 1 lap
16. Button McLaren + 1 lap
17. Senna Williams + 1 lap
18. Kovalainen Caterham + 1 lap
19. Petrov Caterham + 1 lap
20. Pic Marussia + 2 laps

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McLaren almost lost it for Lewis again with a 5.5 sec pit stop. As usual, they depended on his race pace to salvage their ineptitude. This just happened to be their day. You could see how the pitstop lost him track position to Alonso before he took it back. On another day, another track, he may not have been able to get past Alonso or Vettel.

Why can’t they just get it right? Despite just implementing a system that Ferrari have been using for over a season? Why did it take them so long? These questions have to be asked. According to Jonathan Neale, we were supposed to see a “substantial” improvement in McLaren’s pit stops! The problem is indeed Whitmarsh’s leadership style. He simply too “nice” for the cutthroat world of F1, and does not possess competitive bone in his body when compared to denizens like Briatore, Willaims, Brawn and even Horner.

Anyone noticed how Ron Dennis seems to be Lewis’s lucky talisman? More often than not, when he is present, Lewis seems to do well, and seems to benefit from McLaren thinking quickly on their feet regarding strategy. It seems Whitmarsh sharpens up, and indeed the whole team (at least regarding Lewis) when Ron is present.

When Ron is absent, the strategic thinking seems to go in Jenson’s direction with Lewis left to battle it out on race pace, as happened many times last season.

I am surprised by people who seem befuddled by Jenson’s race pace, or indeed his qualifying. He has had many a day like these – even in his championship winning year. As been mentioned many times before, his performance window is extremely narrow, and his results at at McLaren has been flattered by favourable and quick thinking strategy courtesy of Martin Whitmarsh, rather than outright pace. Even at Mercedes, he was flattered by the car, as was obvious in the second half of the season. Whilst he is good driver, he is certainly not in the mould of Lewis – even when Lewis has his off days. He is already 43 point behing Lewis – and that deficit can only grow bigger.

This is exactly the number of point with which he led Lewis for the whole of last season – in what was arguably Lewis’s worst year, and what was arguable Jenson’s best year – And we shouldnt forget that deficit was as a result of Lewis’s many DNF’s and penalties, rather than outright underperformance in the car.

Again, there is a lot of talk about Lewis driving well this year. I don’t agree within that. He has always driven well. He is simply driving different this year. Most of his audacious moves which resulted in a mixture of penalties, tears and reprimands, were also the same moves which won McLaren a championship and gave Lewis the title of best late braker and overtaker in Formula 1. It led Norbert Haug and Ross Brawn to christen him the saviour of F1, at a time the series was being criticised for the inability of drivers to overtake; and Lewis had the most overtakes in that season. When these moves come off well, everyone gushes and praises him, when they don’t, the whole world flagellates him, and the stewards crucify him; Thus this year, gone are the bold overtakes, the audacious late braking, the wheel to wheel duels. Instead we have a more careful, cautious Lewis. The tyres haven’t helped in this regard, as they do not favour an aggressive driving style. I say its a shame, because F1 has been robbed of one of its most exciting driver.


Erm…Lewis went into Anti-stall on his pitstops and that was his issue not the pit crews – therefore it was Lewis’ fault on two occasions.

You also had JB with the highest number of competitive overtakes last year – which was actually higher than Lewis’ number of competitive overtakes in the past several seasons. Sure JB had DRS, but then I’m pretty sure Lewis did as well and it wasn’t the pit crews forcing Lewis to drive into various cars last year – he managed that all by himself. Whereas JB’s DNF’s were caused by mechanical failure or pit crew errors (unattached wheel etc).

[mod] I’m a fan of Lewis, I know he’s naturally faster than JB and probably the entire grid, he’s exciting and frustrating to watch, but this constant excusing of all his failures and bizarre derision of Jenson smacks of blinkers to the realities of racing.


Hi James, did Mclaren run their cars with different suspension to trial tyre wear on different temperatures?, as it looked like Jenson is struggling to put heat on to the tyres just like in 2009. John Button had said after Monaco that Mclaren would trial something to with back of the car.


Yes, JB is struggling to get heat into the fronts and he needs a strong back end, which the car seems to have moved away from


Last time we had a drs poll on this site it showed majority of posters here were against drs & in fact majority of drs related comments here are always anti-drs.

same trend just about everywhere else.

its crystal clear based on polling/comments around the internet that majority of f1 fans are firmly against the drs system, that on its own is more than enough to warrent its banning.


Not really, because it’s also about the larger contingent of more casual viewers. If it makes them watch F1 more then that could be seen by F1 as more valuable input than some F1 fans who don’t like it


Brilliant race, reminds me of Silverstone 2008…a brilliant storming drive by Lewis. Glad to see a race that was won through all out full throttle peddle to the metal racing.



Do you think Button missing the Mugello test has some effect on his lack of performance/lack of setting the car to his liking?

As I understand, Mclaren changed the rear of the car at Mugello and Button has not been able to tune it to his liking…

Hamilton as we know, is a natural talent… put him in whatever car and he will get you the best out of it (as long as he is mentally settled).

Just an observation.


Congrats to Lewis and the team. A well earned victory.

I still can’t fathom why Ferrari and Red Bull went for the late call to one-stop. Surely the lesson learned this season is consistency. They both went for the aggressive win instead of an almost guaranteed 2nd & 3rd. Bizarre decision from both teams.

And how slow was Webber in a straight line? Did you see him with his DRS wide open and still getting smoked down the straight? I didnt notice it with Seb but imagine he had similar straight line performance.

Well done to the place getters too. That will give those young guys a real confidence boost. Roman must be feeling pretty darn good beating Kimi the legend all weekend.

An exciting GP that I enjoyed very much (and I’m a RBR fan).


The SpeedTV commentary mentioned Webber had been complaining of a ‘flat spot’ in the engine. This may be the cause of the slow straight line speed.


Add me to those who think DRS hurt that race.

The ‘It was tyres, would have happened anyway’ argument regarding some of todays DRS-ing may have a point, However just because it may have happened anyway doesn’t make it happening the way it did due to DRS any better.

If you look at the latter part of the race when Alonso’s tyres were going off, In that case it would have been far more exciting without DRS to see him been able to try & defend against Lewis.

Watching Lewis’ OnBoard, He was pulling alongside Alonso slowly before the DRS line but it didn’t look like enough to get him by which meant we would have seen a nice side-by-side fight down the straght with a good fight into the final chicane.

As it was as soon as they passed the DRS line Lewis just drove clean past & was quite a way ahead into the braking zone.

Also don’t forget that the same thing happened earlier in the race when both Lewis & Alonso were on fresh tyres. We had a great fight for the lead shaping up there & then DRS totally ruined it.

Do not also forget that we also saw a situation today where Schumacher pulled a proper overtake on Kobayashi into the hairpin, However Kamui was then in the DRS detection point on the exit & immediately & easily DRS-ed his way back past Michael & I’ve seen that happen quite a few times over the past year.

I like to watch good racing, Cars fighting for position, Cars been able to do something to try & defend there place & I want to see good, competitive & hard fought overtaking. I don’t think DRS produces any of this & this is why I am so against DRS.

The way F1 is using DRS really needs to be looked at & they either need to adopt a better way of using it or ban it completely if they can’t.


Just to add something else.

I think implying that the choice is either DRS or boring races is wrong.

Without DRS its unlikely we would go back to boring races & Trulli-Trains because of the effect tyres & KERS has.

Like Villeneuve said yesterday, Watching a good race going on & watching an overtaking move happen should be an exciting thing to watch yet all DRS does is produce easy & boring to watch passes & that takes away a lot of that tention & excitement.


James, during the race, Alonso and his race engineer were corresponding to each other in italian and spanish.

Isn’t it a rule to that english should be the de-facto language to be used??


I think it is a pre-arranged signal, ie. “Fernando, when I start speaking to you in Italian that means the situation is borderline terminal and you need to do …. something. By that point we will have already passed the point where the pitwall people can help out”.


+1 good point


Atlast, a race won by a sprinter than a tyre preservation specialist.

Well done Hamilton! its been a long time since i cheered for him to charge on.

Button seems to be lost in the sea.

Schumacher must be ruing why he came back to race for Mercedes. Imagine this spate of incidents happening either to Alonso or Hamilton’s car? I am certain some people would heads would be rolling by now.


I haven’t seen this suggested elsewhere, but I wonder if it’s possible Ferrari and Red Bull were gambling on a safety car (not uncommon in Canada)? If there had been one after Hamilton’s second stop, FA and SV would have had track position and the chance to save their tires and get them to the end of the race in front, maybe. Then again, LH’s fresher tires and the DRS should still have given him victory.


The problem with Jenson is not his pace…..hes just as slow as last year and the year before. The standard 3 to 4 tenths per lap slower than Lewis BUT blind luck has deserted him. The problem is it hasnt rained while hes in 12th place 30 seconds off the lead. Imagine it rained after the leaders pitted the first time and Jenson was able to put on wet tyres. By the time the leaders pit for new tyres he 20 seconds up the road and everyones talking about smooth Jens and hes all cocky in the post race interviews


Yes, a safety car would have helped them, but once Hamilton stopped for the second time it was time to make a decision




DRS = Dull Racing Series.

As fo Mercedes & Schumacher, it seems clear they are going for a DNF record here. Should be sponsored by the AA. Empty promises of a trouble free weekend from Haug & Brawn.


That’s what I don’t get. You would of thought that after FP1 & FP2, that all team would use the settings from the fastest of the 2 drivers as the “base-line”; and do this for all races.

It’s not in the teams interest, for one side of the garage to keep its settings secret from the other side, and that screws up their changes in the WCC.


This is in response to #73 by Anze.


Really pleased for Lewis, well deserved and long overdue I think as he has been driving as well as Nando all year.

James, how about a piece on Jenson and his current lack of form? I am a Lewis fan (with a soft spot for Nando too) but I hate to see Jenson having such a tough time.

Cheers, Chris


I think Button should copy set-up from Hamilton. I know his driving style isn’t the same, but I think it’d be a good start. Then he should change the set-up to his liking. His pace yesterday was just awful and he pitted first of all on soft tyres. so there’s definetlly something wrong.



when DRS was introduced we were assured that is was impossible for the DRS to get stuck open, as this would be highly dangerous.

Will the FIA look at this issue more closely now? Do we already know what caused Schumacher’s problem?


It was a bit of a boring race but the end was exciting. Fantastic drive by Grosjean and Perez.

Looks like the Red Bulls haven’t learnt any lessons from China 2011. The moment they realised Grojean was closing in, they should have brought Vettel in. On fresh rubbers Vettel could have overtaken both Grosjean and Perez and may be Hamilton too. Red Bull is not the fastest car but Vettel is doing a much better job.

From Ferrari’s side, it is pure cockiness. They have one of the best cars on the grid. Just like in qualifying, they over estimated their driver’s skills. If anyone thinks Ferrari is a bad car, then McLaren must be a worse car. Look where Button is!

It is not entirely correct to say the gentle action of the Lotus and the Sauber on the tyres contributed to the podium finishes. Credit should be given where it is due. The drivers did a better job in looking after their tyres.


Too much of a kneejerk reaction against DRS here.

If it made passing a bit too easy then the correct course of action would be to again modify the DRS zone for next years race rather than to ban the system.

My assessment is that DRS has given far more to F1 than it has taken away, and by removing it we’d be back to having processional races where aero wake prohibits any overtaking.


“My assessment is that DRS has given far more to F1 than it has taken away”

Disagree, Its given nothing & taken away proper racing!

All DRS is doing for me is turning me off F1 & I’ve been a die-hard F1 fan for about 42 years.


You seem to have a short memory after 42 years!

For years before DRS we had deadlocked ‘aero-processions’, the biggest turn-off for prospective new spectators. I can remember people asking me

‘Why doesn’t he overtake?’

It’s the dirty air.

‘What? I thought this was a car race.’

DRS may not be the dogs doo-dahs entirely, but it has improved the spectacle.


See JA’s reply to Post 84


but if the pre-drs era was the turn-off for prospective new fans they why did the tv figures do nothing but rise over the past decade?

also the drs supporters always say that without drs we would see no passing, however they then say that the drs passes were not all down to drs?

with the pirelli tyres & the effect they have im 100% confident we would still see good racing & a good level of overtaking, However without drs the racing would be better & the overtaking far more entertaining.

i have yet to see a single drs pass that has even been mildly intresting or entertaining to watch, there all boringly easy & unentertaining.


The timing of the first pit stops suggest that both Alonso and Vettel were initially on a two stopper too, and would probably have pitted again soon after Lewis if his outlap following the second pitstop had been slower.

Once that did not happen they both realised they were fighting for second place, lost the plot and started racing each other, playing cat and mouse about who would pit first. In the process their strategies morphed into a one stoppper as no one wanted to pit first.

They completely forgot about Grosjean and Perez until it was too late, effectively gifting Lewis the lead in the Drivers’ Championship!

Once again though, Red Bull proved themselves to be the masters when it comes to thinking on their feet during a race unlike the other top teams that just struggle with it. In the end Vettel finished 4th instead of 5th. That’s a 4 point swing vs Alonso!


Thats the one thing I love about RedBull. very proactive strategy wise. Kinda like disruptors in the tech industry


Yes, you gotta hand it to Red Bull, those guys aren’t afraid to call it when they see a strategy is going against them. The other big teams seem to got into a Dalek-esque “DOES NOT COMPUTE! DOES NOT COMPUTE! DOES …” panic-induced meltdown.


Even though Hamilton won this weekend I still fundamentally disagree with these tyres. Because Hamilton pitted twice that enabled him to put far more energy into the tyres, and as a result we saw a car performing at a higher level. I think DRS goes with these tyres because without it overtaking by properly chasing a car down and passing puts far more energy through them inducing even higher degradation. So let me be quite clear I would prefer to see durable tyres with no DRS.


A thoroughly deserved win for Hamilton and McLaren this weekend, but Alonso and Vettel did not make it easy for him by going for he one stop strategy which ultimately lost them position and points, and gave Hamilton the lead in the Championship. It is a competitive sport, but one can only feel for the woes of Jenson Button on these tyres. There is obviously something awry with his car set up and balance as McLaren’s pace this weekend would surely have put him on the podium, and of course it’s hurting McLarens chances in the constructors championship.


I can see McLaren’s senior management are going mad in signing Button for long-term. 😀 😀 😀

They failed to realise Button is no Alonso.


Could be worse he could be a Massa

Craig in Manila

Whilst it looked good on the track with a lot of late-race chasing and over-taking, the results were pretty-much decided by the strategists sitting in front of their PCs in the pits.

I reckon that it’s probably about time that the strategists got to have their names on the side of the car too and accompanied the driver onto the podium to celebrate. I mean, without them, how would the drivers know when to go faster, go slower, pit now, go faster, go slower etc etc etc ?

Would love to see a race where pit-to-track comms was banned and they had to try to use pitboards to tell ’em what to do !

Anyways, nice work by half of McLaren, half of Lotus, and half of Sauber.


[mod] why is it always Schumacher’s car and not Nico’s?

James, do you think they are focusing too much on NR’s car and not on Schumi’s?
In 2009, it happened to Rubens too.

If they are not trying to sabotage Michael, they are a complete joke by f1 standards. They shouldn’t be there, seriously.

6 reliability problems out of 7 races in year 2012, can you believe it?


Indeed it is a sad situation for Schumi. Looks like he has used up all his luck when he was at Ferrari.


And MS needs a more competent race engineer like Chris Dyer.


Maybe Mercedes have decided to use Michael’s car for in-season testing to develop next year’s car. But seriously, Nico also had an issue in FP3 so it looks like a general reliability issue for the team, although in the races it’s almost always Schumi who suffers for some reason!


A couple of questions for the statitionists: (sp?)

1 – Is this the only race Hamilton has won 3 times?

2 – Am I correct in thinking Hamilton has yet to win the same race two years in a row?

3 – How do you spell statitionists?! 🙂


Spell it any way you want seeing you made your own word up!!!!!

Its statistician you want…..



Now looking forward to a 8th different winner!


Am waiting for KIMI.

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