Lewis Hamilton continued his commanding weekend by winning the Grand Prix du Canada after a tight tactical battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
With another poor start from pole, Hamilton was quickly overtaken by Vettel who led the early stages of the race.
But Vettel’s early pit stop to take advantage of a virtual safety car proved to be the wrong strategy. He had no hope of passing a quick Hamilton again and came in second in front of Valtteri Bottas from Williams.
Another Slow Start For Hamilton
Hamilton has suffered a series of poor starts already this season and he had another slow getaway in Canada.
In contrast, Vettel delivered a superb start from third and easily overtook Hamilton on the outside going into Turn 1.
That left Hamilton and Rosberg to fight it out around the opening corner but, wheel-to-wheel, the narrowing angles forced Rosberg on to the grass. Rosberg re-entered in seventh place and that moment ultimately destroyed his race prospects.
“Sebastian made a good start, I had a decent one and Lewis had a really bad one,” said Rosberg.
“My position was on the outside. He did a really hard racing manoeuvre, we touched and I was off, and that’s it. It didn’t work out.”
“I was very [angry] in the moment, but that’s racing. In the end it’s my job to make sure I’m in front after a battle like that next time.”
Rosberg also revealed after the race that he almost ran out of fuel on the last lap.
“It was difficult with fuel – I nearly ran out,” he added.
‘Wrong’ Strategy By Ferrari
Out in front, Vettel was trying to build an early lead over Hamilton and the chasing pack of Verstappen, Ricciardo and Bottas.
But Vettel just couldn’t build a gap over Hamilton despite the upgraded turbo adding real pace to the car.
On lap 11, Jenson Button’s McLaren had an engine failure bringing out a virtual safety car. Ferrari surrendered control of the race and called Vettel into the pit – meaning that he would need to stop at least once more to use the compulsory soft tyres.
Meanwhile, Hamilton was able to extend his first set of tyres until lap 24. It let him to leap frog Vettel and stay ahead for the remainder of the race.
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene admitted afterwards that they made the wrong call to put Vettel on a two-stop strategy.
“We overestimated the degradation of the tyres,” Arrivabene explained.
“That’s why we called him in.”
“It was a wrong decision. Today we made a mistake, but everybody makes mistakes.”
Despite his eventual second place finish, Vettel was happy with the way the SF16-H performed with its latest engine upgrades.
“I think it was a great weekend for Ferrari.”
“We’ve had a difficult start to the season because we were never really able to show the true performance of the car and this was maybe the first clean weekend if you look at Saturday and Sunday.”
Contrasting Results for Williams and Red Bull
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas spent much of the Grand Prix du Canada toiling behind Hamilton and Vettel.
Fighting for valuable constructor points, the unexpected third place for Bottas is a great outcome for Williams.
“As a team, the race was really a strong one for us, really good strategy, really good pit stop; the time was perfect, the car felt really good today.”
“I felt I was pretty on it today.”
In contrast, Red Bull had a weekend to forget with Max Vertsappen eventually finishing in fourth place 6.598 behind Bottas while Ricciardo ended in seventh.
The race also served to add a little tension between the fast Australian and his new team-mate.
Verstappen appeared to hold up Ricciardo during their opening stint on ultra soft tyres. Red Bull effectively ordered Verstappen to let Ricciardo pass by saying on the team radio, “Don’t hold Daniel up.”
But Verstappen disobeyed and claimed during post-race interviews that he was saving his tyres and increased his pace as soon as he got the message.
It dented Ricciardo’s hopes of a podium and a big lock-up on the next set of soft tyres meant that he needed another unscheduled pit stop. Ricciardo came out behind Ferrari’s Raikkonen and couldn’t find a way past.
“I think we didn’t have the best race today,” commented Ricciardo.
“We definitely need to make it a better Sunday in Baku.”
The next race will take place on the new street circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan on 19 June.