F1GP | HAMILTON WINS IN CANADA

Lewis Hamilton scored a comfortable Canadian Grand Prix victory ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas as championship leader Sebastian Vettel recovered from early race problems to finish fourth behind Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. Canadian rookie Lance Stroll, meanwhile, scored his first career F1 points with ninth place.

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At the start Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen made the best getaway to shoot down the inside to claim P2 as leader Hamilton went into Turn 1. Slow-starting front-row starter Sebastian Vettel was swamped. Bottas passed him as Vettel sustained broken wing elements in a small collision with Verstappen. He would later pit on lap five for running repairs that dropped him to the rear of the field.

Vettel succeeded, however, in fending off a hard-charging Daniel Ricciardo who had passed Kimi Raikkonen when the lights went out.

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In the midfield there were more incidents however. Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean collided, with the result that Sainz was pitched into a spin. He sailed out backwards through Turn 3 and slammed into Felipe Massa as he did so. The Toro Rosso and Williams drivers were instantly ruled out, but Grosjean managed to continue after a wing repair and a set of supersoft tyres.

The incident brought out the safety car as the two cars were recovered and on the re-start Bottas attempted to pass Verstappen around the outside into Turn 1. The Dutchman was alive to the threat, however, and fended off the attack well.

Bottas wouldn’t have to wait too long to get past the Red Bull man, however.

On lap 11 Verstappen’s Red Bull suffered a sudden and total loss of power on the exit of Turn 2. He was forced to pull over and retire. Bottas inherited second place with Ricciardo third.

At the front, Hamilton was carving out a lead and by lap 20 he was six seconds clear of team-mate Bottas. Ricciardo, meanwhile, pitted on lap 18 and took on soft tyres. The Australian dropped to sixth and then began to work his way back up the order.

It was a similar story for Vettel. The German had fallen to P18 after his early pit stop and despite losing more front wing elements the German quickly worked his work through the pack to sit in P8 by lap 22.

By lap 28, Hamilton was 24.4s ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon. Both were still on their starting ultrasoft tyres, but both were lapping in the 1m16s, matching the pace of Bottas on soft tyres. Ricciardo was now fourth, though the Red Bull driver was now 12.4s behind Bottas and almost 13s behind Ocon.

Hamilton and Ocon eventually pitted on lap 32. Both took on supersofts and while Hamilton rejoined in the lead, Ocon dropped to sixth place, between the Ferrari’s of Raikkonen and Vettel. At the front, after one stop, Hamilton led Bottas by just over 10 seconds with Ricciardo third a further 13 seconds back and with Perez now in fourth place.

By lap 49 Ricciardo was beginning to come under sustained pressure from Perez. The Australian’s engineer Simon Rennie told him that if he could withstand the pressure for a spell then the Mexican’s times would begin to drop off as his supersoft tyres faded. Behind them, Vettel pitted for a second time from P6 on lap 49, taking on ultrasoft tyres for a final push towards the flag, with his race engineer Ricardo Adami informing him that he should catch his rivals ahead in the closing stages. Vettel duly began setting purple lap times, recording a fastest race lap of 1:15.431 on lap 51 and then taking another three tenths out of that time on the next tour.

Perez, meanwhile was having no luck in attacking Ricciardo and by lap 56 the Force India pit wall was imploring him to allow the quicker Ocon through to try to pass the Red Bull. Perez, though, was ill disposed to the tactic and resolutely refused to cede the position, insisting that he would have an opportunity to pass Ricciardo.

Behind them Raikkonen went wide at the final chicane and that allowed Vettel through to attack the Force Indias. He seized the chance and by lap 64 was just 0.4s behind Ocon.

As Ocon tried to exert more pressure on his team-mate, Vettel attacked. Ocon tried to resist but ended up going wide and then lost position to the German.

That put Vettel through to P5 and he quickly reeled in Perez, eventually passing the Mexican with two laps left.

The tussling had given Ricciardo breathing room and as the final laps began he was 3.9s ahead of Vettel. The Ferrari driver closed in rapidly but there wasn’t enough time and the Red Bull driver was able to hold third behind easy winner Hamilton and Bottas.

With Vettel fourth ahead of Perez and a disgruntled Ocon, seventh place went to Raikkonen and eighth to Hulkenberg. In ninth place was local hero Lance Stroll, the Williams rookie putting in an excellent, aggressive drive to rise from 17th on the grid to take his first career points on home soil. The final point was taken by Haas’ Romain Grosjean.

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