The Canadian Grand Prix may not have been the thriller we were waiting for, but for Ferrari fans it delivered the desired result. A lights-to-flag victory from Sebastian Vettel, who controlled the race perfectly and was never effectively challenged, was just what he needed to slip ahead in the title standings by one point over main rival Lewis Hamilton, who could only finish a distant fifth in his Mercedes at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The 50th victory of his F1 career, this was a masterclass in controlling events from the front. Vettel made a perfect start – behind him, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull scrapped for second, the Finn defending his position successfully.
Betting against a safety car in Canada is not a great idea, and we had one shortly after the start. Behind the scrap for potions at the front – where Daniel Ricciardo in the other Red Bull and the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen had traded places – the midfield was where the action was.
Even further back, Brendon Hartley – a man under fire at Toro Rosso – and the Williams of Lance Stroll tangled, with both cars out on the spot. The safety car was deployed while the wreckage removed.
A Bizarre Finish
While F1 can never be called a procession at a high-speed circuit such as this, the Canadian Grand Prix was as close as it gets with no further major incidents spoiling the order.
Perhaps the most interesting incident came a lap and a half before the end. Model Winnie Harlow, a Canadian and friend of Lewis Hamilton, was the celebrity tasked with waving the chequered flag, and promptly did so half-way through lap 69 of a 70 lap race. How this happened is not clear, although she insists she was told to do so. Thus, results were declared at the end of lap 68.
Bottas tried his best to catch the Ferrari up front, but could do nothing about it and finished the race in a well-deserved second place, a little over 7 seconds down the road. Verstappen drove an incident-free race, a much-needed one after recent criticism, to follow Bottas closely for the final podium position.
Undoubtedly disappointed with their finishing positions would be Ricciardo in 4th, some 20 seconds away from the lead, Hamilton who finished close to the Australian in 5th, and Raikkonen, who could only manage a lonely 6th.
Somewhat happier faces included Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz in 7th and 8th who, despite being a lap down at the finish, will be pleased the Renault was firmly established as ‘best of the rest’ at this, a power circuit. 9th position went to Esteban Ocon after another assured drive in the Force India, and a quietly impressive 10th position from Charles Leclerc in the Sauber will have done no harm in marking this young man out as a star of the future.
Images Copyright of: Ferrari SPA.