Lewis Hamilton was gifted the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday in a surprising stewardʻs judgment that penalized the leader of the race, Sebastian Vettel. Vettel finished second in his Ferrari with his teammate Charles Leclerc taking the third step on the podium.
The Canadian GP win was the seventh for Hamilton, meaning that he has joined Michael Schumacher as the drivers with the most at the event. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who seemed to have a miserable race after starting in sixth, took fourth.
Slotting into the fifth spot was Max Verstappen, who started eleventh and endured a quiet drive through the field. The Renault duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg enjoyed a solid outing and took the next two spots. They were followed by Pierre Gasly in eighth, who continues to persevere through an understated season but also brings the car home safely.
One of the more giddy drivers must have been Canadian Lance Stroll who earned ninth driving for Racing Point. After having to change from the new Mercedes Phase 2 engine to an older iteration, he was still able to finish in the points at his home grand prix.
Daniil Kvyat earned the last points-paying position by coming home in tenth.
In many ways, the Canadian GP can be told as the tale of two races. The first half looked like a typical runaway for the leader, in this case, Sebastian Vettel. Even with Norris bringing out a slight caution, the race adhered to what commonly transpires during these races.
Lando Norris experienced a baffling failure when his brakes overheated the suspension and caused it to snap. Without a working MGU-K which steals energy from the brakes when they slow but also assists in slowing car, Norris was sure to find some sort of trouble.
Through the pit stops, Vettel had climbed out to a four-second lead, and the race looked like a done deal.
Something happened at the midpoint, however, as Hamilton seemed to be finally unleashed and began nipping away at the lead. By lap 45, Hamilton had closed into DRS range and was able to start applying pressure to Vettel.
On lap 48, Vettel ran off track in what looked like a costly error as he lost the rear end when heading into turn 4, and one that would further cement Vettelʻs reputation as a driver who is unable to withstand pressure. Hamilton tried to pounce but his overtaking maneuver did not work and he was forced to slot back into second. All that seemed well and good… until the stewards chose to look at Vettelʻs re-entry.
With close to ten laps to go, the stewards decided that Vettel had unsafely re-joined the race and in doing so had forced Hamilton off the track and to slow down. Vettel was then given a five-second penalty and it became the decision that changed the outcome of the race.
You can argue whether or not F1 is over-officiated, with some calls appearing to be ticky-tack or too scrutinous, and that is a debate that could go on for weeks. Regardless of whether or not you find race control to have too much power, this decision still determined the race.
Some could argue that had Vettel returned to the track in any way other than how he did that Hamilton would have won the race. Fair point.
Of course, it could also be argued that Vettel did what any driver would do and that the issue was just a racing incident and a driver trying to regain control of his car. Hamiltonʻs subsequent moves were just those that any other driver has to perform in order not to get caught in any situation, not of their own doing. In that case, when Vettel crossed the line first, he won. But he didnʻt.
That is what we get from this race. Whether or not the decision was right, the ruling came to be and there was no arguing it.
- 1 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes
- 2 Sebastian VETTEL Ferrari +3.658
- 3 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +4.696
- 4 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes +51.043
- 5 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +57.655
- 6 Daniel RICCIARDO Renault 1L
- 7 Nico HULKENBERG Renault 1L
- 8 Pierre GASLY Red Bull Racing 1L
- 9 Lance STROLL Racing Point 1L
- 10 Daniil KVYAT Toro Rosso 1L
- 11 Carlos SAINZ McLaren 1L
- 12 Sergio PEREZ Racing Point 1L
- 13 Antonio GIOVINAZZI Alfa Romeo 1L
- 14 Romain GROSJEAN Haas F1 Team 1L
- 15 Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN Alfa Romeo 1L
- 16 George RUSSELL Williams 2L
- 17 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team 2L
- 18 Robert KUBICA Williams 3L
- 19 Alexander ALBON Toro Rosso–
- 20 Lando NORRIS McLaren–
About the author
As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.
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Vettel has been prone to mistakes in the past that have cost him and I think he got off lucky in Montreal. It looked like if Hamilton was about one foot further Vettel’s right rear would have hit Hamilton’s car in the left front and caused a potential track blockage. His mistake should have cost him the lead and I wonder what he would have done if he was penalized by allowing Hamilton to take the lead. At least he would have finished second.
What would they call if Vettel didn’t make a mistake and Hamilton tried to pass on the outside with the same result, being taken to the wall. Would Vettel get a penalty for that move?