Sebastian Vettel has delivered to Ferrari their first win in Canada in fourteen years at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The win also pushes the former Red Bull driver to the top of the championship leader board, albeit by one point with his score now at 121 to Lewis Hamilton’s 120.
Prior to the race start Jacques Villeneuve demonstrated the Ferrari 312T3 that his father drove to a win at the circuit now named after him, forty years before.
An ugly first lap crash between local hope Lance Stroll and New Zealander Brendon Hartley brought out the safety car and had both cars out of the race. Hartley’s Toro Rosso was hit by Stroll as his rear end snapped out courtesy of what Stroll called in as a puncture. Up front, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had a blinder of a start, getting in front of Vatteri Bottas momentarily before the Mercedes driver responded. In a heated vehicle exchange the two came within millimeters of contacting each other before the red mist dissipated. Bottas would finish second and Verstappen third.
Lewis Hamilton had a disappointing run, with the veteran British driver reporting intermittent power issues. Hamilton would ultimately finish fifth behind Daniel Ricciardo, who avoided everyone to have a relatively quiet race.
The clouds of uncertainty over Fernando Alonso deepened as the Spaniard failed again to finish in Canada. In his 300th start the double world champion was forced to retire after team technicians identified a problem with the exhaust system. Ted Kravitz from SkySports said: “Exhaust failure for Alonso, I fear it was super heating the engine cover and would have blown the whole thing to pieces had he not retired.”
A despondent Alonso was understandably reluctant to talk to the media on his arrival back at the team garage offering only a comment about a couple of months time frame for the team to find more reliability before making a decision on his racing career for 2019.
The hypersoft tires played a good part in the final results. Verstappen said that his were “shot” early, taking a pit stop, and had his car on supersofts for the remainder of the race. Verstappen later commented that the car became more competitive as the race unfolded.
What was notable in the final finishing times was the bigger than expected gaps. Vettel was a full 7.3 seconds ahead of Bottas who himself was over eight seconds ahead of Verstappen. Ricciardo and Hamilton finished over twenty seconds later.
Ferrari gained 33 points in the constructors’ championship thanks to eight points for Kimi Raikkonen in sixth but still sit seventeen points behind the 206 for Mercedes. Nico Hulkenburg, Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc rounded out the top ten with all but Raikkonen finishing a lap down from the leaders.
The next race will be the eighth in the 2018 season. The Formula 1 Pirelli Grand Prix de France will be held at Circuit Paul Ricard over the weekend of June 22-24.