Canadian GP - Sunday - Race Report
Sebastian Vettel ran away to win the Canadian Grand Prix.
He started on the pole in his Red Bull, took the lead immediately and held it for all but three of the race's 70 laps. He dominated the day with his only errors being brushing the wall once and running wide off the track once.
"I was pushing very hard, especially at the beginning of the race," he said. "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 tire wear, which hasn't always been the case for us, so we have made a step forward there."
Lewis Hamilton started second in his Mercedes and held on to the spot for most of the afternoon. He led those three other laps when Vettel made his first pit stop at the end of lap 16.
Vettel would pit at the end of lap 49 for another set of Pirelli tires but by then his lead was 18 seconds and he easily kept the lead.
After all the complaining from some people that there are too many pit stops, Montreal was a one or two stop race.
Fernando Alonso was relentless in his Ferrari. From sixth on the grid he fought his way forward past Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Mark Webber (Red Bull) and finally took second from Hamilton with seven laps to go.
"At the end of an extremely complicated weekend, this second place tastes like a win, because we were competitive and managed to fight with the front running drivers," Alonso said. "You never feel in danger with them, because, even wheel to wheel at 320 kilometers per hour, they have the necessary intelligence and experience to know to leave a margin of safety. 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 tires, while he was on the super soft. 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."
Hamilton was faster than teammate Rosberg all weekend but not as fast as the two cars that finished in front of him.
"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," Hamilton said. "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."
Webber made a solid start to move from fifth to fourth and then later passed Rosberg for third. But then Webber got his front wing damaged when he was lapping Guido van der Garde and they collided as the latter moved in and cut him off. Webber's wing was not damaged enough to pit for repairs but it slowed him down enough that Alonso closed in for the kill and passed him.
"I got a sensational start," Webber said, "but I didn't have too many places to go. I went to the middle and (Valtteri) Bottas and Nico (Rosberg) were there, so I went to the other side and lost some momentum. We are certainly getting our starts sorted, but so far there's been no opportunity to show how good they have been! 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."
The race officials gave van der Garde a five place grid penalty at the next race for causing the collision.
"Today wasn't a good day for me," he admitted. "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."
So Webber, who set the fastest lap of the race despite the wing damage, finished fourth while Rosberg faded back to cross the line in fifth place.
"I think fifth place was probably my optimum today and," Rosberg said, "even if my race had gone perfectly, I wasn't able to match the pace of the guys in front. The guys had a difficult decision to make at the first stop: we were worried about the warm-up of the harder tires, so we went for the option to protect my track position against Webber and Alonso, but in hindsight it would probably have been better to go the other way because I could have run a longer second stint. I scored some good points and we know that there are areas where we can still improve our performance. But looking back to where we were a month ago, we have made some good steps forward."
One of the stars of the race was Jean-Eric Vergne who took sixth in his Toro Rosso.
"The best result for me of course, but also the highest finishing position since Vettel's results for the team in 2008," he said. "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."
Force India had another solid afternoon with both drivers in the points. Paul di Resta finished seventh after starting 17th and Adrian Sutil was 10th.
Felipe Massa climbed from 16th to eighth in his Ferrari.
"I am very happy with my race today which was a real battle from start to finish," he said. "After going off the track yesterday, I knew it wouldn't be easy starting from 16th place, but I also knew I had a good car and I tackled the race on the attack, managing to pull off several nice passing moves. However, because of a problem with graining, I lost precious time behind Sutil in the Force India: that's why I think a strategy based on using two sets of Medium tires would have seen me gain at least one or two places. Even if I can't be satisfied with this result it was still a positive day, in which we showed we had a good pace and that we were able to fight."
Kimi Raikkonen finished ninth in his Lotus.
"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," he said. "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."
Fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, was bitterly disappointed. He had qualified a fabulous third in his Williams and was aiming for the first points of his rookie season. But he faded back to 14th.
"We fought hard to try and secure some points today but ultimately we just didn't have the pace in the car," he said. "I didn't get a great start which allowed a few cars to jump me on the first lap, and in the dry conditions we simply couldn't match the level of competitiveness we showed yesterday. The tire wear in the first stint was also high which made it tough to stay in the top ten."
Speaking of points, Vettel increased his championship lead to 36 points ahead of Alonso. But Vettel says he is not going to run away with the title just yet.
"Obviously you don't have to be a genius to know that you get more points than anybody else for that result," he said, "but as Fernando (Alonso) said, the championship is still long and obviously I was in a different position last year at this time and I was able to catch up quite a lot towards the end. I had very strong races. Fernando was a little bit unlucky here and there and we were able to beat him, so we were able to come back but this was ten races from where we are now so I think there are so many things that can happen at that stage of the championship."
"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," he said.
Now it is on to the British Grand Prix, and the Red Bulls have had some runaway wins there. But then Ferrari has been quick at Silverstone as well.