Lewis Hamilton won the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix at the end of a race where the top two fought from start to finish. Having crossed the finish line in second place the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver was handed the win, as the Stewards imposed a 5-second penalty on Sebastian Vettel, first past the flag, for making an unsafe return to the track having gone off between turns 3 and 4 on lap 48.
Scuderia Ferrari had been made aware of the decision, but Vettel was unable to pull out the five-second lead which would have allowed him to keep the win, having led from the very start. The German definitely drove an amazing race, the best performance from him so far this year. He fought tooth and nail to fend off Hamilton who stalked him for all 70 laps. It was therefore entirely understandable that he was bitterly disappointed with a decision which his team felt was not fair and led Ferrari to confirm that it intended to appeal the decision, which has to be confirmed within 96 hours.
“I think we had a great race and the stewards’ decision is too harsh. In turn 3, I lost control of my car and I had to run long onto the grass, rejoining at turn 4 ahead of Lewis. I couldn’t see where he was, as I was too busy trying to keep my car on track without crashing and I didn’t squeeze him on purpose. I think given the way things went this weekend and even though our rivals’ race pace was very strong, we deserved the win, and I get the impression that lots of the spectators here today at the circuit agree with me. It’s always nice to race in Canada, I feel a lot of support from the people and it would have been wonderful to have given all our fans the first big result of the season,” said Vettel.
Apart from the aforementioned Hamilton and Vettel, the other stars of the race in the order they finished were Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll. The Monegasque driver made it to the podium for the second time in his career in third spot and was always right behind the two leaders, and he crossed the line under 5 seconds behind the winner.
“I am quite happy with my race today, despite it having been a rather lonely one for me. I think that we couldn’t have got a better result and our performance was strong from the first to the last lap. At the same time, it is a shame for the team to have lost the first win of the season. I look forward to the next race in France now. It is difficult to say where we will stand there, as the circuit here in Montreal suits our car very well, but we will work as hard as we can to continue improving and fighting for strong results,” said Leclerc.
Verstappen, who went out in Q2 yesterday started ninth, having moved up the grid after Magnussen and Sainz took penalties. He made the most of the free choice of tyres to start on the Hards, and didn’t change them until lap 48, which allowed him to finish fifth. The local boy, Lance Stroll had started way down in 17th spot but hauled his way up to ninth, just where he finished here in 2017.
“The car performed so well today and it feels great to score points in Montreal. The lead up to the race wasn’t easy – losing the power unit yesterday and taking a performance hit by going back to the old engine – but we kept pushing, went out there and grabbed a couple of points. My start was strong, which moved me up a few positions and the key to our strategy was all about going long on the first stint with the hard tyre. By the time we switched to the medium, we were in good shape and I was able to chase down [Carlos] Sainz and make the move for ninth place. It was a really fun race: I put all my emotions on the table today and loved every minute of it. The team really deserved this: they’ve put in some long hours this week and it’s a boost for us all. It has been an awesome week with great support from the crowd. I’m going to remember this one for a while,” added Stroll.
As was the case in qualifying, the two Renaults were in the top ten, with Daniel Ricciardo sixth and Nico Hulkenberg seventh, the first time both cars finished in the points this season, a result that pleased beleaguered Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul, who said “This weekend is no more than the blueprint we set ourselves as an objective and the demonstration that we are able to achieve it. We need it to continue in the upcoming races and Daniel’s sixth position and Nico’s seventh, the best possible results at this stage under normal conditions, restart our season. The drivers were faultless all over the weekend. Daniel was exceptional in his qualifying lap yesterday, he gave us all a smile nearly as wide as his!
“The rest of the team executed everything impeccably giving us confidence back while also not forgetting errors made at the beginning of the season. We remain very concentrated and conscious of the work there is left to do. We’re moving forward to the French Grand Prix from tonight, as it marks the second stage of our recovery plan after the first one on the engine side, which has benefitted from the visibility and the recognition it deserved on the most challenging circuits of the calendar.”
Daniil Kvyat was also in the points with a solid drive to tenth, while Valtteri Bottas fourth and Pierre Gasly eighth, had good reason to be unhappy with the way the weekend ended. The Finn sees the gap to his team-mate grow to 29 points and setting the race fastest lap and a new record in 1.13.078 will have been scant consolation. The previous record had stood since 2004 when Rubens Barrichello posted a 1.13.622 in a Ferrari. It was the first time Gasly out-qualified his team-mate but he could do no better than eighth, also overtaken by Hulkenberg, both men having started on the Softs.
The race in Montreal brings to an end the first third of the season. The fight for the lead in both championships seems to have a clear cut picture: the Mercedes AMG Petronas team and its drivers have a healthy lead, the Englishman is now 62 points ahead of the third placed Vettel, while the team has a massive 123 point advantage over Ferrari. The battle behind these two is less clear, especially in the Constructors. McLaren’s charge to fourth place was almost stopped by Renault this weekend as there are now only 2 points between them. SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team (19 points) has slightly pulled away from Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda (17) and Rich Energy Haas F1 Team (16) while Alfa Romeo Racing continued to struggle, having failed to score in the last three races. Rounding it off on zero points is the struggling ROKiT Williams Racing.
After this North American interlude, with Formula 1 also being the main attraction at the Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago which hosted the second F1 Festival of the year after the one in Shanghai and attracted a crowd of around 60 thousand, the pinnacle of motorsport returns to Europe for a rush of five race in seven weeks starting with FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE 2019, at Le Castellet on 23 June ending up with the FORMULA 1 ROLEX MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2019, which as usual is held at the Hungaroring outside Budapest.