A comprehensive 50th Grand Prix victory for Sebastian Vettel gave Ferrari their first Canadian Grand Prix win since Michael Schumacher in 2004.
The four-time champion kept the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas at arm’s length to secure a win which takes him back to the top of the drivers’ championship by just one point.
It was one of the least entertaining Canadian Grands Prix on record; short on overtaking and action beyond the opening lap. But Vettel will not mind that.
It also underlined the open nature of this season, and circuit dependency; the last three races gave each been dominated by different drivers and teams. Hamilton dominated Spain, Ricciardo Monaco and now Vettel in Canada.
“Perfect is probably a good way to describe it. Unbelievable,” said Vettel. “I said yesterday how much this place means to Ferrari.
“To come here and have a race like we did today is unbelievable. I think after a long time, a long stretch that Ferrari didn’t win here, I saw everybody around and they were super happy.”
Any threat from Red Bull’s alternate pit strategy starting in hyper soft tyres, was quelled in the first half of the race, but Max Verstappen took the final podium place in a much-needed clean race for the Dutchman.
The second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo held off a late challenge from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton – who struggled with temperature issues early in the race – to take fourth place, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in sixth in the second Ferrari.
Despite their shaky start to the weekend, Renault looked like the fastest midfield team throughout the race, and duly finished the race with Nico Hukenberg in seventh and Carlos Sainz in eighth. But they were a lap down, even to the Renault powered Red Bulls.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon took ninth ahead of another strong display by the Sauber of Charles Leclerc.
At lights out it was an even start between Vettel and Bottas, but an even better start for Verstappen allowed the Dutchman to attack the Mercedes into turn one, but the Finn defended firmly around the outside of turn one and had the inside line for two turn, defending the position.
Hamilton held fourth whilst Ricciardo swept past Raikkonen on the inside of turn two. Hulkenberg lost out to Force India’s Esteban Ocon at the commencement of the midfield battle.
Further back, the fast-starting Lance Stroll came together with Brendon Hartley on the opening lap. With the Toro Rosso sticking with the Williams around the outside of turn five, a moment of oversteer meant Stroll collected Hartley, who hit the concrete wall. Both skated off the track and were out of the race, sending out the safety car.
At the restart, Vettel backed the field up and successfully launched clear of the field, followed by Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Raikkonen.
On turn one of the restart, Perez was challenging Sainz for P9, but the two came together and the Force India was sent across turn one, demoting him to fourteenth.
With those on the hypersoft tyre pitting in the early stages of the race, both Hulkenberg and Sainz were able to pass Ocon through the pit stop phase after the Force India was held in the pit box for longer than usual.
With the Red Bulls also equipped with the higher-degradation hypersofts, they were the first of the front-running teams to complete their pit stops. Surprisingly they were joined by Hamilton, who was brought in early to allow the Mercedes team to alter some bodywork on his overheating car.
The slightly longer pit stop whilst Mercedes worked on the car, coupled with a small error at the pit exit from Hamilton, allowed Ricciardo to get the jump on the reigning champion to move up into fourth place.
Raikkonen was struggling to keep the same pace as Vettel or Bottas, and fell eighteen seconds away from his team-mate. He made his pit stop some fifteen laps after Hamilton, but was unable to profit from any kind of ‘overcut’ and returned to the track behind the Briton in sixth place.
Bottas’ deficit to Vettel was around four seconds when he made his one-and-only pit stop, but an equally-swift stop for the Ferrari driver one lap later prevented any slim chance of an undercut.
Following the pit stops, Vettel remained in control of the race lead, and the closest contest was between Ricciardo and Hamilton for fourth place.
Any threat of Bottas catching up to Vettel via the negotiation of back-markers was nullified when the Mercedes man made a mistake at turn one, allowing Vettel to extend his gap by a couple of seconds.
From there, Vettel remained unchallenged and he was able to cruise to his 50th Formula One win ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.
Despite the pressure, Ricciardo kept enough of a gap to fend off Hamilton, whilst Raikkonen finished in sixth.
The Renault’s seemed mostly comfortable in securing their best points haul since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, ahead of Ocon and Leclerc.
Fernando Alonso’s 300th Grand Prix weekend could’ve ended in a hard-fought point, but a late-race retirement summed up a difficult weekend for the McLaren team.
By: Luke Murphy
CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, Race Results
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari – 70 Laps
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 7.376s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 8.360s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 20.892s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21.559s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 27.184s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 Lap
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1 Lap
9 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1 Lap
12 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
14 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 2 Lap
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 2 Lap
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 2 Lap
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault DNF
19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes DNF
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda DNF
All images: Motorsport Images
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