Firstly, I would like to apologise for missing the last two races, but I had a cricket match and a World Superbike race to attend! I am back now, and here to stay, well until there are more cricket games!
The Canadian Grand Prix has a reputation for being one of the more interesting races on the calendar. Michael Schumacher has won this race seven times, including the 1998 race where he won despite a drive through penalty for taking out Frentzen.
Qualifying saw Lewis Hamilton take pole, the 65th of his career, equalling Ayrton Senna’s total, ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel and team mate Valtteri Bottas. Felipe Massa qualified 7th, and for the first time in his career, out qualified a team mate in Montreal.
Danil Kvyat stalled on the formation lap, but got going again to take his original grid spot. Despite falling to the back of the field, I would’ve put your mortgage on him getting a penalty for it.
Sebastian Vettel had an awful start, damaging his front wing on the tyres of two different cars and losing places to both Red Bull’s and Bottas.
Carlos Sainz had to swerve several times across the track whilst trying to hit Grosjean before he was finally successful, spinning into Felipe Massa causing both of them to retire and Grosjean to pit for repairs.
Another investigation for the stewards, (this one to be conducted after the race), but should result in a penalty for Sainz. Kvyat was also under investigation for his formation lap blunder.
The Massa/Sainz crash brought out the safety car for three laps, and would have been an ideal time for Ferrari to pit Vettel for a new front wing, but Ferrari and strategy have never been a match made in heaven! Vettel finally pitted at the end of lap 6 for a new front wing, dropping him to 18th and last.
Max Verstappen retired from second place with a battery problem which brought out the virtual safety car and left Hamilton with a 9.2 second lead from Bottas.
The stewards hit Kvyat with a drive through penalty, and announced that the Massa/Sainz incident would be investigated after the race as any penalty applied to Sainz would be issued to him for the next race as he had retired from this one! It was later announced that Sainz would receive a 3 place grid penalty for the next time out.
Kimi Raikkonen pitted for super soft tyres before his main rivals – was this a new and improved strategy instead of just waiting for the tyres to fall apart and settling for minor points?
In a busy day for the stewards, Kevin Magnussen was now under investigation for overtaking under the virtual safety car. He was later hit with a 5 second penalty.
On lap 21 Vettel overtook Stroll for 9th place in what was looking to be a good race of damage limitation for Ferrari.
There was an interesting split on tyre strategy amongst the teams, with Bottas, Ricciardo on soft tyres and Raikkonen and Perez on super softs. Hamilton and Ocon were running long for their first stints, and Bottas was catching Ocon for second.
Hamilton and Ocon both pitted at the end of lap 32 to change to super soft tyres, Hamilton kept his lead and Ocon dropped to 6th, slotting in between Raikkonen and Vettel and leaving fans wondering how Ferrari were planning to switch the drivers around, now that there was a Force India in between them!
Martin Brundle described the race as fascinating. I think for Christmas I will buy him a dictionary so he can learn the definition of the word fascinating!
The stewards hit Kvyat with a ten second time penalty, as the initial drive through penalty they gave him was wrong and should have been a stop/go. You would have thought that having made a mistake this amateur they would’ve not admitted their mistake and “forgot” to rectify it!
Kimi Raikkonen pitted for a second time for ultra softs, dropping him to 7th.
Ocon asked his team to move him in front of Perez as he believed he could attack Ricciardo for third, but Perez refused to move over.
With 20 laps to go, Vettel pitted for a second time coming back out behind Raikkonen, and Kvyat went in to serve his penalty, but unfortunately retire from the race with a technical problem.
Raikkonen and Vettel were chasing the battle for third, and once again Force India asked Perez to let Ocon past. Perez once again refused, claiming it is a waste of time as he could overtake Ricciardo. He was given three laps to attack the Red Bull or move out of Ocon’s way.
Lap 60, and Ferrari told Vettel a podium was still on, as the Force India’s were still busy fighting over which one gets to attack Ricciardo, and not actually doing anything about the Red Bull. I can’t help but think if they had worked together and fought Ricciardo they would’ve been third and fourth in this race at this point, and not falling back into the clutches of the Ferraris.
Raikkonen ran wide with a brake problem, allowing Vettel through for 6th place and on the tail of the Force Indias with 5 laps to go.
Vettel stuffed it up the inside of Ocon at turn one, who ran wide and lost fifth. Vettel himself ran wide too, but gained no advantage so was allowed to attack Perez.
The battle between Vettel and the Force Indias had allowed Ricciardo to escape. Vettel got Perez, who could now go back to fighting Ocon over the team radio while not actually making any progress on the track.
Fernando Alonso retired on lap 69, just one lap from the finish. Just how much longer can Honda keep pretending they have a clue how to build Formula One car engines?
And finally, it was a win for Lewis Hamilton, a lights to flag race for him and a brilliant come back from his struggles in Monaco. He had Bottas backing him up in second for another Mercedes 1-2. Daniel Ricciardo rounded up the top three, and he must know that he owes Perez for that one, as it was his refusal to follow team orders that allowed him to escape. Fourth was Vettel, fifth Perez – who fought Ocon across the line and selfishly cost his team mate a shot at the podium, and Force India a lot of points! Raikkonen salvaged seventh, only 2 seconds in front of Renaults Hulkenberg and scoring his first F1 points was Lance Stroll. The final point went to Romain Grosjean.
Conclusions from Canada:
- Lance Stroll can score points! His first F1 points were at his home race, and made him the first Canadian driver without the surname Villeneuve to score points in a race.
- Carlos Sainz needs to stop taking out Williams drivers rather than Felipe – it was Stroll he took out last time!
- Sergio Perez needs to borrow Martin Brundle’s new dictionary and learn the words “You have three laps to overtake Ricciardo or we will ask you to let Ocon past.” Or maybe he needs his hearing tested…either way his selfishness cost the team a possible podium.
Drive of the Day, fan vote: Sebastian Vettel.
Drive of the Day, Fiona’s vote: Felipe Massa. Innocent victim of Carlos Sainz for the second time this year!
Next up, Azerbaijan in two weeks time. See you then!