Untroubled Hamilton gets back on track to take fourth win in Canada
World champion holds off Nico Rosberg to reassert his dominant position in the championship
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates a victory in the Canadian F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters
He now has four victories in Canada, finally one more than retirements, but more importantly has also reasserted his dominant position in the championship after the disappointment of losing the win to a poor strategy call at the previous race in Monaco.
Having taken pole, he dutifully took the lead into the first corner and with exception of a single lap during which he pitted, did not relinquish it for the rest of the race. He now leads team-mate Nico Rosberg by 17 points in the title race and has ended the German’s brief bid to come back at him in emphatic fashion with his fourth win of the season, his first since Bahrain, all of which have come from pole position.
“I love Montreal,” he said. “I love the track, I love the city. A fantastic weekend, it’s great to get back on the top step.”
He had not, however, enjoyed the perfect set-up but it had not affected his performance, nor his confidence.
“I didn’t feel I had the most comfortable balance, I had understeer, Nico was quick but I felt I had time in my pocket if I needed it,” he added.
Both drivers stopped only once – Hamilton to take on the soft tyres on lap 30 and Rosberg the same a lap later, but what slim chance he had of making the undercut were gone when he went wide at the hairpin on his in-lap.
As the race progressed Rosberg was warned that his brakes were overheating and Hamilton that he had to lift and coast to conserve fuel, but ultimately neither had an effect on the outcome.
“Brake wear now critical, manage it for 10 laps before you attack Lewis,” Rosberg was told over the team radio, but although he managed the situation by dropping out of the dirty air behind Hamilton’s car, the attack did not materialise.
With metronomic efficiency, every time Rosberg closed to within 1.1 or 1.2 seconds of his team-mate Hamilton would extend the gap again on the following lap.
“Did I need this?” said Hamilton. “I think so. The team did an amazing job, I am proud to be up here.”
Valtteri Bottas took Williams’ first podium of the season, with a very solid run to third place, although while talk persists of teams catching Mercedes, he was a full 33 seconds behind Rosberg.
Taking advantage of Kimi Raikkonen spinning on cold tyres at the hairpin and passing him through the pit stop on lap 29, Bottas hammered it to the finish.
Power issues of the other kind beset McLaren, however, as their season lurches from bad to worse as behind the power and reliability of their new Honda engine the cracks were beginning to show.
Told that he would have to watch his fuel consumption, Fernando Alonso replied: “Already I have big problems now. Driving with this ... looking like an amateur. So I race and then I concentrate on the fuel.” Which promptly went from bad to worse for the Spaniard as he suffered a terminal lack of power and retired on lap 47.