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Another Box Ticked

EVENT COUNTDOWN

ALBERT PARK

12-15 MARCH 2015

ROUND 7 – Canada, 9 June 2013, Montreal

1st: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), 1hr 32m 09.143s (av. race speed 198.759 km/h)
2nd: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), gap: 14.408s
3rd: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), gap: 15.942s

Fastest Lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault), 1:16.182 = 206.080 km/h on lap 69

Pole Position: Vettel, 1:25.425 =183.782 km/h

ANOTHER BOX TICKED

Sebastian Vettel had never won in Canada. Nor, for that matter, had his Red Bull Renault team. He put that right in the most emphatic fashion in Montreal this year, streaking away to open up a two-second gap by the end of the first lap and coming home after 70 laps with almost quarter of a minute in hand. Vettel, still only 25, sowed the seeds of his 29th career victory by breaking the recent Mercedes run of four straight pole positions. His own 39th pole came after a tricky, rainy qualifying hour in which he just shaded Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes by 0.087s.

“The car was amazing, absolutely amazing,” Vettel told his team on his slow-down lap. “Finally we got it off the list, I’m very proud of that. We’ve had good races here before: two years ago we were very close, that was my mistake on the last lap.” Vettel did make a couple of minor mistakes in his lonely run to the flag, including a close shave with the wall on exit of Turn 4, as he pushed to give himself a full pit-stop cushion. “It’s nice to win here, as it’s a very special race,” he added. “Not just the track, but the whole city enjoys the race and it’s a nice atmosphere.”

Hamilton, three times a winner in Montreal himself, fought hard to retain his second place but in the end had to give best to an irresistible Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. The Spaniard, who qualified only sixth, found stunning late-race pace to fight past Australia’s Mark Webber and reel in Hamilton with eight laps left. Though Hamilton came back hard – they touched lightly two laps later – Alonso held on to limit the damage to his title chances as Vettel opened up a 36-point gap after seven rounds. “We didn’t have a good qualifying,” admitted Alonso, “I didn’t get the lap together. But today I had a great fight with Mark and Lewis at the end of the race. Even if you have good pace they are super-talented, so this second place has a victory taste.”

Webber was disappointed to qualify only fifth, made an outstanding start to sweep past Valtteri Bottas in the Williams – a surprise in third place on the grid – but was bottled up behind Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes in the early phase of the race. He was very quick in the middle stint on Medium tyres until his charge was compromised by Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde chopping across his bows at the hairpin. “The whole top section of the wing was gone on the left hand side, so it didn’t help from then on,” the Australian lamented. “I don’t know what he was doing. We had a lot of blue flags as we approached the hair pin and I rolled to the inside, giving him plenty of space so he knew I was there, but when we got to the apex he tried to hit it; I don’t know what was going on with that.” Webber still managed to deprive Vettel of one of his favourite tokens, the fastest lap of the race, while Van der Garde picked up a stop-go penalty.

Alonso cruised past Kimi Raïkkönen into second place in the Championship as Lotus endured another nightmarish weekend. Dragging a 10-place grid penalty with him from Monaco, Romain Grosjean didn’t make it out of Q1 anyway and finished 13th; for Raïkkönen, brake problems, trouble with fuel consumption and a botched pit stop conspired to severely damage his title hopes. The Finn still managed to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 successive points-scoring finishes when he limped home ninth. “Most of my race was just following the cars in front and defending from those behind, so not the most enjoyable day nor the most enjoyable result. It’s been a bad weekend, but at least we scored a few points,” said Raïkkönen, whose name is being strongly linked with a move to Red Bull for 2014.

Other talking-points

Jean-Eric Vergne secured his best F1 result for Toro Rosso in sixth place, nine ahead of Aussie team-mate Dan Ricciardo. ‘JEV’ did well to qualify seventh, then brought the team its best result since a certain triple World Champion was in their cockpit. “Incredible! I’m very happy,” said the Frenchman, who was also a top-10 finisher in Monaco. “The best result for me of course, but also the highest finishing position since Vettel’s results for the team in 2008. It is even more satisfying, because it was a normal race in the dry, with no one going out in front of me so we achieved this position fair and square. It’s a great result for the team as we are making progress race by race and it’s very encouraging for the rest of the season.”

A disgruntled Ricciardo failed to build on his first appearance in Q1 since China. “After just four laps, the car was oversteering like crazy and I couldn’t manage the tyres anymore. As the race went on, we tried to improve the car balance and maybe we improved it a bit, but our pace was really slow.”

Another driver to catch the eye was Paul di Resta. For the second race in a row he got stuck in Q3, Force India calling him in to work on a gearbox problem when he felt it could have been done between sessions. Starting 17th, he ran until lap 57 before making his one stop and finished seventh. “I didn’t manage to get any long run data on Friday so it feels extra sweet to make this one-stop strategy work with a very long stint on the mediums,” said the Scot. “It also feels good to come back so strong after a difficult qualifying session. The tyres lasted very well, the lap times were competitive and the team told me it was my decision about when to make my stop.” Team-mate Adrian Sutil was told when to make one of his – it was a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags. But the German survived that, a 360-degree spin and a tap from behind by Pastor Maldonado’s Williams to come home for a point in 10th place.

Next race: round 8, Great Britain, June 30

Back to the home of the World Championship: can Webber take his third Silverstone win? Watch out for a full preview right here…

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