Sebastian Vettel has recaptured the driver’s championship lead after a clinical lights-to-flag victory at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Vettel was never threatened from pole, leading easily off the line and nailing his sole pit stop to ensure he cruised past the checkered flag first.
“Perfect is probably a good way to describe it,” said an ecstatic Vettel after the race. “To have a race like we had today is unbelievable.”
The German paid tribute for his team, noting Ferrari hadn’t been able to win in Canada since Michael Schumacher took victory in 2004.
“I think after a long stretch Ferrari didn’t win here, I saw people around and they were super happy. I’m sure they had a blast. Grazie alla squadra.”
Ferrari’s strong performance around the power-sensitive Circuit Gilles Villeneuve validated the team’s latest specification power unit, which debuted this round, putting Vettel in good stead to continue his championship fight.
“It’s still a long way, so I’m not too bothered to be honest,” he said of reclaiming the points lead. “For sure it’s a good side effect.
“To have a Ferrari winning today and me driving it makes me very proud and honored.”
The Canadian Grand Prix typically promises action, and Lance Stroll in his home race got proceedings off to a dramatic start, oversteering out of Turn 5 and into an unwitting Brendon Hartley, sandwiching him against the barrier.
Both took heavy damage in the contact and careened across Turn 6 and into the far barriers, where both their races ended. The race stewards judged it to be a racing incident, with no driver at fault.
It took four laps of caution behind the safety car for the debris to be cleared, and once the race resumed, Vettel sprinted away with the lead, and with drivers keen to maximize tire life, the field spread out behind him.
Lewis Hamilton complained of intermittent power loss from fourth place, and with Daniel Ricciardo — who had jumped Kimi Raikkonen for fifth, bearing down on him, the Mercedes driver was recalled to the pits for an early tire change and to add some cooling to the car.
But the early stop unleashed Ricciardo’s superior pace, and when the Australian emerged from the pits on the next lap ahead of the Briton to net fourth place.
The race continued in its holding pattern, with the leading Vettel, second-placed Valtteri Bottas and Raikkonen in third preserving their tires to guarantee a one-stop strategy.
Ferrari was the first to pull the trigger, stopping Raikkonen on Lap 33. The Finn was aiming to jump ahead of Hamilton, but the Mercedes driver maintained a factional advantage out of Turn 2, relegating Raikkonen to sixth.
Bottas and Vettel followed with their respective stops at the end of Laps 36 and 37, maintaining first and second places.
It was a strong result for Bottas, who made himself the leading Mercedes driver for the weekend thanks to his better feeling for Pirelli’s softest tires, but he lamented that his car didn’t have the pace to challenge for more.
“Since Lap 1 really [Ferrari] seemed to be a bit quicker all the time and they could kind of control the race,” he said.
Max Verstappen finished third with a similarly straightforward performance thanks to a slick lap-16 pit stop, delivering a much-needed clean weekend for the Dutchman after six crash-strewn grands prix.
“It was a good race,” he enthused. “I enjoyed it.”
Renault teammates Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finished seventh and eighth ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon in ninth, with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc scoring the final point in 10th.