Lewis Hamilton romped to a decisive victory at the Canadian Grand Prix to reduce the gap to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to only 12 points.
A second place for Valtteri Bottas put both Mercedes drivers on the podium with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo holding off a fast finishing Vettel to take third.
It was a tough afternoon at the office for Vettel who was forced to work his way through the field after a difficult start.
Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon – who finished just 0.240 seconds apart – secured a bundle of points ending in fifth and sixth place but some gripping side-by-side action will lead to a post-mortem after Perez ignored team orders.
It was a special day for Lance Stroll from Williams who finished ninth to became only the third Canadian to score points and is now the second youngest Formula 1 point scorer.
Meanwhile, Alonso looked set for points for the first time this season only for his McLaren engine to again fail with two laps remaining.
Hamilton in Total Control
Many expected a tight duel between Hamilton and Vettel but a nail-biting start to the race ruined Ferrari chances.
Vettel was swamped off the start line with Bottas on one side and Verstappen on the other. The young Red Bull driver had a blistering start jumping from fifth to second place but he damaged Vettel’s front wing in the process.
Entering Turn 2, Carlos Sainz edged into Romain Grosjean’s Haas shunting the Torro Rosso uncontrollably forward to collect an innocent Felipe Massa. It forced out the safety car but Vettel didn’t enter the pits for a new front wing until a lap after the re-start. The crucial strategy error forced the German to work his way through the field from the back but he said after the race that he did not spot the damage before the safety car came out.
“I had a little bit of a feel out of Turn Six and then the safety car came,” said Vettel.
“But I wasn’t sure because it was the first lap of the race, especially it was very windy today, so I thought it might have been a gust and for the first lap, the tyres are not there. We should have spotted that and got a free pit stop.”
From the re-start Hamilton took total control and gained a nice advantage on Verstappen before his Red Bull engine failed on lap 4.
No-one could get near Hamilton after that and he cruised home with Bottas 19 seconds behind.
Hamilton said: “It’s been such an incredible weekend. I just couldn’t be happier with how it’s gone and I’m so grateful for this result. We came away from Monaco and we were scratching our heads, but we pulled together and look what we achieved.”
Exciting Points Battle
An exciting battle unfolded behind the Mercedes pair for the remaining podium place.
Ricciardo and the Force India’s spent most of the race fighting for position. Ricciardo defended strongly against the unexpectedly fast Force India’s with Perez getting close to the Australian but never able to pass. Ocon appeared to have stronger race pace but Perez refused team-orders to let him through.
It resulted in some tight action with Ocon’s attempt to pass Perez letting Vettel take fourth. The Force India’s continued alongside at the final corner but Perez defending hard. Ocon said over team radio: “This is not fair, guys. He moved at the last minute. He cannot do that. This is not fair racing at all.”
For Ricciardo, it was his second consecutive podium finish and a rewarding result for a tough race.
“I couldn’t afford any mistakes, especially in the last sector, because if they get the DRS and get a run it’s hard to keep them behind.”
“I had to be close to perfect in terms of not making any errors but it wasn’t easy as the grip was low and the wind was crazy out there.”
“Not the easiest third place but when I saw the chequered flag I was like: yes I can finally breathe.”
The podium finish also gave the Australian an opportunity to do his now famous “shoey” – drinking the celebratory champagne out of his race shoe.
“I had zero intention of doing a shoey again, but the crowd was chanting and then Sir Patrick (Stewart) got involved so I thought: alright, we might be on here. I think it turned out pretty good.”