Canada 'walk in the park' for Hamilton as Vettel fights back

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Lewis Hamilton got his championship campaign back on track with victory in the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Sunday. He fended off an early threat from Red Bull's Max Verstappen and led all 70 laps of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

He finished the race 20 seconds clear of his team mate Valtteri Bottas to make it the first Mercedes 1-2 of the season. The team radio confirmed that it had been "a walk in the walk" for their driver. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo claimed the final podium spot.

However it was a tougher day at the office for Sebastian Vettel, who suffered front wing damage at the start. He was forced to make an early unscheduled pit stop but battled his way back up to fourth place. He still loses out to Hamilton in the championship standings and his lead was cut by half to just 12 points.

Force India was back in double points scoring mode with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon fifth and sixth respectively. Kimi Raikkonen overcame a late brake issue on his Ferrari to hold on to seventh ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg. Lance Stroll marked his first home race with two points for Williams in ninth ahead of Haas' Romain Grosjean.

Sainz and Massa crash out

Starting from pole position after setting a new track record in qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton had got a solid launch off the grid and held the lead into turn 1. However the star of the start was undoubtedly Max Verstappen who launched himself from fifth straight up into second.

Behind the leaders, Carlos Sainz was sent spinning from contact with Grosjean as they came out of turn 2. The out of control Toro Rosso came back across the the track at the next right hander and collected the blameless Felipe Massa, sending the Williams into the barrier. A safety car was scrambled to allow marshalls to collect the two stricken cars, while Grosjean pitted for a new front wing.

Hamilton was able to fend off the feisty Verstappen at the restart. Bottas tried to find a way past the young Dutch driver but had to settle for third ahead of Vettel, Ricciardo, Perez and Raikkonen. However as the cars got back up to speed, Vettel's front wing started to disintegrate as a result of contact at the start with Verstappen. Vettel was forced to pit for repairs, dropping him to the back of the field behind Grosjean.

Verstappen left powerless

Verstappen's spectacular start to the day came to an abrupt end on lap 11 when the hybrid battery power on the RB13 cut out. He coasted to a halt on the grass verge exiting turn 2, and the recovery of the car was handled under a virtual safety car. When racing resumed, Stoffel Vandoorne was mugged by Haas' Kevin Magnussen and by Stroll and Hulkenberg in quick succession, ejecting the McLaren man from the top ten.

A struggling Raikkonen became the first of the leaders to make a planned pit stop on lap 18 to change from ultrasofts to supersofts. That triggered a chain reaction with Ricciardo and Perez called in over the next two laps. Going against the flow, Ricciardo was fitted out with the more durable soft compound. The trio came back out on track behind Fernando Alonso who was in fourth but yet to pit. They had little problem blasting past the underpowered McLaren.

Mercedes decided to split their drivers' tyre strategies. They summoned Bottas in for a new set of soft compound tyres on lap 24. Hamilton opted for supersofts when he finally pitted at the end of lap 32. Hamilton had delayed his stop to ensure he had a ten second margin over Bottas when he came back out in the lead. Bottas had a similar advantage over Ricciardo in third place, with Perez, Raikkonen and Ocon in close pursuit.

Pit stops bring Vettel back into play

The pit stops had allowed Vettel to race his way back into seventh place ahead of Alonso after his early enforced stop for a front wing change. Ferrari tried to make things happen by calling Raikkonen in for a second stop and a new set of ultras on lap 42. Vettel initially rejected that call but finally complied on lap 49 which dropped the two Ferraris behind both Force Indias. Vettel was determined to dispense with them - and his own team mate - over the remaining 20 laps available.

Raikkonen proved to be the least of Vettel's problems after his Ferrari developed a braking problem. Vettel was soon camped out on the back of Perez and Ocon who were involved in an intense private family feud. With four laps remaining Vettel was able to force Ocon to run wide in turn 1, picking up fifth place. Two laps later he pulled off a clean pass on Perez at the final chicane to secure fourth.

Renault's Jolyon Palmer just missed out on the points in 11th place ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen. The Dane had incurred a penalty from the race stewards for overtaking under the virtual safety car. The Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein sandwiched Vandoorne who was classified in 14th place. Vandoorne's team mate Fernando Alonso retired four laps from the end with an inevitable engine failure.

The day had proved an eventful and unhappy outing for Daniil Kvyat. His Toro Rosso stalled on the grid before the formation lap and all the other cars had departed before he finally got underway. The team incorrectly advised him to take up his original grid spot, which the stewards penalised with a drive-through and a ten second penalty. These became irrelevant when he reported a vibration and pitted on lap 54. The problem proved terminal and the car was retired.

Race results

Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 70 laps - 1:33:05.154s 1
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes + 19.783s 1
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull + 35.297s 1
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari + 35.907s 2
5 Sergio Pérez Force India + 40.476s 1
6 Esteban Ocon Force India + 40.716s 1
7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari + 58.632s 2
8 Nico Hülkenberg Renault + 60.374s 1
9 Lance Stroll Williams + 1 lap 1
10 Romain Grosjean Haas + 1 lap 1
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault + 1 lap 1
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas + 1 lap 1
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber + 1 lap 1
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren + 1 lap 1
15 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber + 2 laps 2
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren + 4 laps 1
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso DNF 3
18 Max Verstappen Red Bull DNF 0
19 Felipe Massa Williams DNF 0
20 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso DNF 0

 
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Gallery: All the pictures from Montreal

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