Circuit Length: 4.361 Km
Lap Record: 1:13.622 = 213.246 km/h - R. Barrichello (Ferrari) 2004
Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), 1:13.784 = 212.777 km/h
1st: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) 1:32.29.586
2nd: Romain Grosjean (Lotus Renault), 2.513s behind
3rd: Sergio Perez (Sauber Ferrari) 5.260s behind
Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), 1:15.752 = 207.249 km/h on lap 70
IT FEELS JUST AS GOOD’: MONTREAL IN 10 QUICK BITES
On June 10 2007 Lewis Hamilton claimed the first Grand Prix win of his career – in Montreal. On the same date in 2012 Hamilton won in Canada for the third time, and the McLaren Mercedes driver said “It feels just as good!” He beat Lotus Renault’s Romain Grosjean and Sauber Ferrari’s Sergio Perez in a race that came thrillingly alive in the last few of its 70 laps.
Hamilton ran second to early leader Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull, then pitted on lap 17 and made another of McLaren’s trademark 2012 slow releases; he pitted again after 51 laps and rejoined third, seeking reassurance from the team that the men ahead – Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari and Vettel – would also be stopping twice.
He got it – but in the end only Vettel made a late dash to the pits, so Hamilton had to produce one of the most brilliant drives of his 97-race F1 career to hunt them both down, pass them with control and aplomb and record his 18th Grand Prix victory. “I feel fantastic, to be honest,” said the 27-year-old Englishman. “Just brilliant. I could hardly believe it when I was driving across the line. That emotion inside, it’s like an explosion. It’s really just incredible. It’s what I love best about motor racing.”
It was Hamilton’s first victory of the season, which means the seven races of 2012 have thrown up an unprecedented seven different winners. Hamilton also now regains the lead in the Drivers’ World Championship, having gone to Canada in fourth place overall. He has 88 points to Fernando Alonso’s 86 after the Ferrari ace fell back on deteriorating tyres and finished fifth.
In fact none of the three men on the podium had won in 2012, although for Grosjean and Perez Canada brought a second visit to the podium this season. Grosjean, in his second crack at Formula 1, scored a career-best second place after pitting on lap 20 and managing his prime (soft) tyres superbly for a 50-lap second stint. “It’s fantastic to finish in second position on my first visit to Montreal, hopefully I will finish in first on my second time! A crazy end of race: I was thinking P5, P4, but then the pace stayed there…”
Perez, second in Malaysia already this year, started a lowly 15th on the grid but also one-stopped his way to the top three. “Starting 15 the last thing you would have thought about was to end up on the podium!” admitted the 22-year-old Mexican, who revelled in his fans’ support in one of the races closest to his home. “After such a bad day yesterday it’s great to be here.”
Tipped to be a Ferrari driver in the near future, Perez piled more pressure on current incumbent Felipe Massa. The Brazilian showed strongly in the opening laps but had a spin at Turn 1 after just half a dozen laps and never got back on terms with the race, finishing 10th and last of the points-scorers. He has managed just 11 of those this year, 75 fewer than his team-mate, and knows he is currently driving for his F1 future.
Another man tipped to wear red next year is Mark Webber, who qualified fourth but complained of a ‘flat spot’ in his Renault engine and could never match the front-runners’ race pace. The Aussie was bottled up for a long mid-race spell behind the one-stopping Grosjean and Perez and eventually came home seventh behind Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes. “It’s hard to get it right here – if you push to try and pass you kill the tyres but if you wait, then you find you’re on the same strategy and finish behind them anyway,” Webber acknowledged. He now has 79 points and is fourth behind teammate Vettel. Webber’s compatriot Dan Ricciardo started and finished 14th for Toro Rosso Ferrari.
The season’s unluckiest driver may well be Michael Schumacher, who retired yet again with a bizarre problem: the rear wing on his Mercedes stuck open, which is illegal when the car is outside the DRS zone, and not even brute force from his mechanics could fix it when he pitted for repairs after 45 laps. The seven-time World Champion is stuck on two points, 65 adrift of compatriot and teammate Rosberg.
On a happier note for the German manufacturer, Sunday’s was the 300th Grand Prix in a partnership with McLaren that began in Brazil in 1995 (a race won, incidentally, by Schumacher for Benetton). Hamilton’s victory was the 73rd in their remarkable record together – and judging by Hamilton’s post-Canada mood it is far from their last.