On the 40th anniversary of Gilles Villeneuve’s first win for Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel followed in the legend's footsteps to win the Canadian Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver completed what was a comfortable win which saw him lead from start to finish ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, meaning the top 3 on the grid didn’t change
Vettel had amazing pace with the other drivers seemingly in his pocket, however Bottas did begin the close the gap to the Ferrari before a mistake by the Finn into turn 1 on lap 56 saw him lose all his progress and put him into the path of Verstappen.
Max Verstappen held 3rd comfortably as he continued to show great pace throughout the weekend, a performance he really needed. Towards the latter stages of the race, Verstappen was able to close the gap to Bottas after it was revealed that the Mercedes driver had to fuel save, thus enabling Verstappen to get within DRS range but finishing just under two seconds behind Bottas. Although he crossed the line on lap 70, the expected final lap, 1 tenth behind the Mercedes, but due to a chequered flag error, the race officially ended on lap 68, not 70.
Daniel Ricciardo came home in fourth after having Lewis Hamilton breathing down his neck for most of the race but unable to pass. Ricciardo admitted after the race he struggled with the recent upgrade to his Renault engine which left him struggling to keep a consistent pace. Ricciardo did set the fastest lap of the race on lap 70 but, again due to the chequered flag error caused by miscommunication, the fastest lap of the race was awarded to his teammate Max Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton had another quiet race which topped off a scrappy weekend by his standards. It seemed to be a weekend for the four-time world champion where he could not get into a groove with his car which has been seen before, leading to his frustration throughout the race. Although, some can say his pace was due to the old Mercedes engine powering his W09. Sixth placed was Kimi Raikkonen. Another quiet weekend for the Iceman which lead to him finishing behind his team-mate once again. Another mistake in Qualifying 3 lead to him starting in P5, below where he expected.
The Renault crew came home to finish best of the rest once again with the underrated German Nico Hulkenburg leading his team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. Esteban Ocon finishing 9th in his Force India after failing to maintain his position ahead of the Renaults during the pitstop period and couldn’t maintain the same pace as them. Whereas his team-mate, Sergio Perez, was involved in a small incident with Sainz into turn 1 after the safety car restart, dropping the Mexican out of the points.
The Safety Car was caused by a big incident in turn 5 on the opening lap between Lance Stroll and Brendon Hartley as Hartley attempted a move around the outside and aimed for the inside of turn 6. As Hartley was outside, Stroll’s Williams had a snap of oversteer which squeezed Hartley into the tyre barrier, throwing the Toro Rosso into the air and taking the Williams out with him.
The fight for the final place in the points were between the Sauber of Charles Leclerc, Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly and Haas of Romain the Grosjean. Amazingly, all cars were having internal issues of their own, but it was the Leclerc who again scored points for his team. The Monegasque driver continues to perform brilliantly, outdriving his Sauber Alfa Romeo and massively helping him chase a Ferrari seat in the future.
It was another disappointing weekend for Williams and McLaren with only one car finishing from each team. Sergey Sirotkin was left alone finishing in a lonely 17th place and last as his team-mate was involved in an incident, as said earlier. The McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne finished in a sad 16th place after his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, suffered another mechanical failure after running in the points and fighting for 10th place with Leclerc. Another failure again begs the question whether Alonso will decide to stay in Formula One and McLaren for 2019 or move on to another racing series like IndyCar.
Overall, for spectators, it was not the greatest race to watch. Hopefully the return to France and Paul Ricard brings more.
by Stanley Jones