Sebastian Vettel crosses the line first but Lewis Hamilton wins F1 Canadian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel was given a five second penalty Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton won a highly controversial seventh F1 Canadian Grand Prix Sunday — crossing the line second but gifted the win after a penalty dropped the first man across the line, Sebastian Vettel, behind the Mercedes.

Win number seven in Canada draws Hamilton even with victories in Canada with Michael Schumacher and means that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve becomes his most successful venue in Grand Prix racing.

However, those statistics don’t even begin to tell the story of a dramatic race.

Vettel led off the line from pole as the top five remained unchanged during the initial exchanges. By the time that the DRS (Drag Reduction System) was enabled on lap three, the Ferrari driver had put more than a second between Lewis Hamilton and himself, protecting his lead from the DRS threat.

The attention was further back as Lando Norris was looking up to move up in his McLaren, taking on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in some close quarters battling. With Verstappen starting in tenth, boosted a position from his initial qualifying spot due to engine penalties incurred by Kevin Magnussen after his crash in qualifying, the two drivers found themselves fighting over the same piece of tarmac.

Exchanging positions several times under the influence of DRS into the track’s final chicane, the battle was ruined when Norris suffered the strangest of failures; his rear brakes superheated and melted the rear suspension of the McLaren. The failure made it look as though Norris had made contact with one of the concrete walls that line the track, but replays showed the bizarre breakdown.

Lando Norris suffered a strange failure in his McLaren.

At the end of lap-26, Vettel was the first of the lead trio to blink. Having a comfortable gap back to Valtteri Bottas in fourth, Ferrari decided that now was the moment to bolt on the hard tires. For all of their poor strategy calls, this proved to be a masterstroke.

Battling through backmarkers, cars that Vettel was narrowly able to get out around, meant that Mercedes were unable to react instantly to the pit stop and this scenario allowed Vettel to extend his net lead when Hamilton pitted two laps later. Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc assumed the lead but had yet to stop as Ferrari opt to run him deeper into the race.

Seeing how much time Leclerc was losing on the old medium rubber, Ferrari pitted Leclerc on lap-33. The stop was in a relative no man’s land between the two one-stop scenarios and cost Leclerc eight seconds on Hamilton and Vettel ahead of him. It also briefly dropped the Monegasque behind Verstappen, who had yet to pit, but Leclerc fixed that particular issue less than a lap later, using DRS into the final chicane.

Hamilton was clearly enjoying the hard tires more than Vettel and had made up the four-second gap created during the stops. Now within a second of Vettel, the championship leader was within the DRS activation zone. Vettel reacted by setting the fastest lap of the race but, after locking up and losing a few tenths again, Hamilton resumed his relentless pursuit of the Ferrari.

In all changed seemingly in an instant.

In sector one of lap-48, Vettel came very close to wiping the top two cars out. Losing the rear under braking for the turn 3-4 chicane, Vettel slid across the grass and rejoined the track narrowly ahead of Hamilton. A secondary slide when applying the power as he hit the tarmac nearly caused a collision with Hamilton, and the incident was looked at by the stewards in race control.

The incident still under investigation, Mercedes informed Hamilton that ‘the window of opportunity had closed’. Assuming that this meant Hamilton’s chance to pass had now gone, the Mercedes driver dropped three-seconds back. But then came the news to once again galvanize Hamilton: Vettel had been given a five second penalty.

The reactions from both camps were predictable as Mercedes urged Hamilton to stick on the gearbox of Vettel while on the other side of the fence Vettel complained that he had nowhere to go once the secondary slide happened.

“I am focused, but they are stealing the race from us,” complained Vettel over the radio, the German more than a little aggrieved at the decision which cannot be appealed.

Crossing the line ahead of Hamilton but knowing he would not collect the winner’s trophy, Vettel got straight back on the radio with a pointed message, clearly directed at the stewards. “No, no, no. Not like that. No, no, no. Seriously, you need to be an absolute blind man to think that you can go through the grass and then control your car. I was lucky that I didn’t hit the wall. Where the hell am I supposed go? This is the wrong world. I tell you, this is not fair. Great crowd, great racetrack.”

Having said his piece, Vettel decided not to attend the podium ceremony, parking up in the regular parc ferme instead of the winner’s enclosure and disappearing off into the FIA garage.

Hamilton, pleased with his days work, gave his thoughts on the race and specifically of the near incident and resulting penalty for Vettel amid loud jeers from the watching spectators.

Stewards penalized Sebastian Vettel five seconds.

“Naturally, that’s absolutely not the way I wanted to win,” said Hamilton. “I was pushing to the end to get past but obviously I forced him into an error. He went a bit wide but then I had the run on that corner and we nearly collided so, it was unfortunate, but this is motor racing.”

Presented with Vettel’s view of things Hamilton added, “That’s his view of things. For me, I took the corner normally but, when you come back on the track, you’re not supposed to come straight back onto the racing line. You’re supposed to come on safely and I assume that’s why they (gave the penalty).”

Changing his mind, or under instruction from Ferrari to avoid an extra penalty, Vettel made his way towards the podium but made a stop on the way to replace the number one standing in front of Hamilton’s Mercedes, for the number two in the blank spot where his Ferrari should have been, symbolically giving himself the win he felt he deserved.

An awkward exchange followed on the podium when, ahead of the anthems, Hamilton pulled Vettel up to join him on the top step of the podium, but Vettel quickly jumped back down onto the second step.

Having missed his earlier interview slot, Vettel was giving another chance to voice his feelings after the podium ceremony had been completed.

“I think first of all, I really enjoyed the race,” said Vettel. “I enjoyed the crowd every lap. Seeing the cheer me on, especially around the hairpin, it was really intense. Obviously, Lewis was, I think, a bit quicker throughout the race but we were able to stay ahead and, for the rest, I think I have said enough.


Vettel was given another chance to voice his feelings after the podium ceremony had been completed.

“We should ask the people what they think. We had a great show, Lewis showed some good respect so ask the people.”

When Hamilton was once again booed as he was asked again about the stewards decision, Vettel stepped in and said, “The people shouldn’t boo at Lewis because, I think, he saw what was going on and I don’t think there was any intention to be in his harms way. I had trouble to stay on track but the people shouldn’t boo at Lewis.

“I think, if anything, they should boo at these funny decisions.”

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