Wesley Branton | June 9, 2019 @ 3:48 pm
The teams were in North America for the first time this season at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2019. Brake management was critical in the race, but there were still some great battles throughout the field, most notably for the lead of the race.
The formation lap was a little scary for Mercedes fans, as Lewis Hamilton struggled to get away from the grid to start the formation lap when the anti-stall kicked in. He was able to get away and reclaim his P2 starting position on the grid.
Despite the mistake on the formation lap, Hamilton was able to get away cleanly when the lights went out to signify the start of the race, but both Ferrari drivers had better starts. Sebastian Vettel maintained his lead from pole and Charles Leclerc was wheel-to-wheel on the inside of Hamilton in the first corner, but couldn’t get an overtake done around the outside of the second corner.
Further back, Alexander Albon lost his front wing in the first corner after being sandwiched by a Racing Point and Alfa Romeo. He needed to limp around to the pit lane to have it replaced. Romain Grosjean had to cut the corner to avoid the debris from the incident.
Max Verstappen struggled early in the race to get around Lando Norris. After a handful of laps, Verstappen was finally able to dispose of the rookie and work on recovering a solid result following the team’s qualifying misfortune.
Less than ten laps into the race, drivers who started on the soft compound tyres opted to replace the rapidly degrading tyres for some hard tyres.
Just nine laps into the race, Norris became the first retirement of the race. He began to lose his brakes, eventually completely missing the final chicane. Down the main straight, the right-rear suspension failed, believed to be melted by the burning brakes. He brought his car to a stop at the pit exit, off the racing line. The race carried on since the marshals opted to leave the stricken McLaren were it was.
Valtteri Bottas’ progression was halted by Nico Hulkenberg, allowing Verstappen to catch up and giving the top three drivers to create a race of their own at the front. Hulkenberg finally pitted for tyres, releasing Bottas and Verstappen.
There was a long wait at the front to see which team would pit first for fresh tyres. Finally, on lap 26, Vettel was the first to pit for hard tyres, rejoining in P3. Mercedes had to keep Hamilton out on his slow tyres since they didn’t have the gap to be able to come out in front of Bottas.
This eliminated any chance the team had to get Hamilton in front of Vettel. Two laps after Vettel pitted, Mercedes finally called in Hamilton for some new hard tyres. He came out in front of Bottas, who pitted three laps later for the same compound.
Leclerc was the last of the top four drivers to pit for tyres, critically dropping behind Verstappen. Verstappen still needed to make a pit stop late in the race, having started on the hard tyres. But a few laps later, Leclerc stole P3 from the Red Bull driver, who didn’t put up too much of a fight.
At the halfway point of the race, Bottas had a good multi-lap battle with Daniel Ricciardo. Bottas attempted to overtake the Renault down Casino Straight with DRS assistance, but the Aussie made his car the widest on the grid and managed to block his attempt.
Bottas tried again the following lap, but Ricciardo also had DRS thanks to the lapped George Russell. The next lap, Bottas locked up slightly into the hairpin and was not close enough to try again. But when they came around again, he was able to get it done with more DRS assistance. Ricciardo stuck right on the gearbox of Bottas out of the chicane and down the main straight, but the Renault simply wasn’t quick enough to stay with the superior Mercedes.
Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Hamilton was able to climb within the DRS zone of the leading Ferrari. A number of poorly executed corners hindered his chances to challenge Vettel early in the second half of the race.
As the chase continued, Ferrari reminded Vettel to watch the numbers on his steering wheel, presumably talking about either brake temperature or fuel economy.
On lap 48, Vettel lost rear traction under braking for right-left turns three and four. He ran wide through the grass, sliding back on the circuit. Hamilton had to brake to avoid being pinched into the barriers by the sliding Ferrari. The incident prompted the attention of the stewards who vowed to investigate for unsafely rejoining the circuit.
Follow that, Hamilton quickly fell outside of the DRS zone and Vettel managed to find some pace, increasing the gap to three seconds. But he needed to find a couple of more seconds as the stewards handed him a five-second time penalty for forcing a driver off the track.
Meanwhile, a frustrated Kevin Magnussen was getting quite vocal over the team radio about his experience in the race, calling it the “worst experience he has ever had in a race car”. Team principal Guenther Steiner silenced him, saying that the whole team was disappointed and that “enough is enough”.
Back at the front, Hamilton was able to close back into DRS range of Vettel, but Vettel’s impending penalty deflated any excitement surrounding the lead battle.
Hamilton collected his fifth win of the 2019 season, increasing his domination of the World Drivers’ Championship. Vettel was able to minimize his loss in P2 with Leclerc rounding up the final step of the podium.
Vettel originally stormed off to the team motorhome in the paddock in frustration, after failing to put his car into the proper position under the podium. A team member quickly sprinted to convince him to get onto the podium to avoid further penalty for violating the podium procedures.
The F1 circus will resume in two weeks time back in Europe for the French Grand Prix on the weekend of June 23.
Above results table does not include any post-race penalties