Hamilton beats Vettel to win in Canada

© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back victories as he beat Sebastian Vettel to win the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel had leapt into the lead with a sublime start from third on the grid and led Hamilton in the opening stages. However, Ferrari opted to two-stop - pitting for supersoft tyres under an early virtual safety car - which handed Mercedes track position it would never regain.

With Hamilton one-stopping, Vettel closed consistently on the Mercedes in the second half of the race but got no closer than four seconds before dropping back in the final laps as Hamilton delivered a measured drive to eventually win by five seconds.

Valtteri Bottas finished third for Williams as he also made a one-stop strategy work, with only four cars stopping just once. Bottas took advantage of struggles for Red Bull and bad luck for Nico Rosberg to come home over half a minute behind the leading pair. Max Verstappen was fourth on a two-stop strategy, finishing the race on ultrasoft tyres and producing an impressive defensive performance to hold off Rosberg.

Rosberg's race had been compromised at the start, with Hamilton forcing his team-mate wide at Turn 1 after Vettel had launched into the lead down the inside and even managed to return to the racing line before the first corner. Hamilton and Rosberg were side-by-side and light contact saw the latter cut Turn 2, rejoining in the middle of the track with the field streaming by and dropping him to 10th.

At that stage Vettel was leading by over second after his electric start but cut the final chicane and had to defend from Hamilton at the start of the second lap before easing away. Jenson Button then retired on lap 10 with a power unit failure which brought out the virtual safety car and saw both Ferraris switch from ultrasoft to supersoft tyres despite needing to run the softs at some stage.

The decision to go for a two-stop strategy so early gave Hamilton track position and the defending champion ran until lap 24 before pitting, with Vettel having been closing in. Vettel then needed to use the supersofts to pull a gap of around 20 seconds to stay ahead of the Mercedes but was not quick enough to do so and rejoined 7.8s adrift when he finally pit for softs on lap 36.

From that point on, Vettel closed in on the race leader and Red Bull's problems offered hope that the softs would not last as expected. First Daniel Ricciardo had to pit after just 17 laps on the softs, and Verstappen - running third - then had to do the same eight laps later, handing Bottas the final podium spot.

Hamilton managed his tyres well, however, and Vettel didn't have the pace to really trouble the race leader as the gap stabilised at four seconds. Two further errors at the final chicane displayed how hard Vettel was pushing and only a slow final lap from Hamilton saw the gap end up at five seconds.

Rosberg had been climbing back towards the podium but was hit by a slow puncture which required a second stop and a late charge. Verstappen defending well in the closing stages before appearing to lose out on the penultimate lap when the championship leader used DRS to attack at the final chicane, but Rosberg spun under braking and had to hold off Raikkonen on the last lap to come home fifth.

Ricciardo was seventh having been held up by Verstappen early on and then shuffled back in the pit stops, with Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.

Fernando Alonso missed out on points in 11th for McLaren as a one stop strategy failed to work for the Spaniard, eventually finishing nearly half a minute adrift of Perez.

As well as Alonso's team-mate Button, Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Massa retired, with Massa ending a run of scoring in every race so far this season.

Hamilton's victory cuts Rosberg's championship lead to a mere nine points having been 43 just two races ago, with Sebastian Vettel moving into third place, 38 points behind Rosberg.

AS IT HAPPENED: Canadian Grand Prix

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Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 70 laps - 1h31m05.296s 1
02 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +5.011 2
03 Valtteri Bottas Williams +46.422 1
04 Max Verstappen Red Bull +53.020 2
05 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +62.093 2
06 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +63.017 2
07 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +63.634 2
08 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1 lap 2
09 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1 lap 2
10 Sergio Perez Force India +1 lap 2
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren +1 lap 1
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1 lap 2
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas +2 laps 2
14 Romain Grosjean Haas +2 laps 3
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2 laps 2
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault +2 laps 1
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor +2 laps 2
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber +2 laps 2
19 Rio Haryanto Manor +2 laps 2
20 Felipe Massa Williams DNF 2
21 Jolyon Palmer Renault DNF 1
22 Jenson Button McLaren DNF 0