What happened at the Canadian Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo works up a thirst in Canada to take his third third-place finish in a row, while Mercedes produce a Montreal masterclass.


Lewis Hamilton: qualified 1st, finished 1st. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 3rd, finished 2nd.

Mercedes 1-2 finishes have been so commonplace since the advent of the V6 turbo hybrid formula in 2014 that it was jarring that Sunday’s quinella in Canada was the Silver Arrows’ first for the season; while a fast-starting Verstappen looked set to mess with Mercedes plans of a Montreal masterclass, the Dutchman’s early demise saw Hamilton cruise untroubled to his sixth win in Canada, and Bottas his third podium at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in as many years. Hamilton’s display, one race after a disappointing Grand Prix in Monaco, was a timely reminder that when the Briton is on it, he’s close to untouchable. After setting the fastest-ever lap of Montreal (1min 11.450secs) to take his 65th career pole and match Ayrton Senna’s mark on Saturday – an achievement for which he received a replica Senna 1987 helmet and seemed genuinely humbled afterwards – Hamilton drive in a manner his hero would have approved of 24 hours later, leading from lights to flag and setting the fastest lap of the race to win 10 years after his maiden success at the same circuit. Bottas was never on Hamilton’s pace even before Verstappen retired, and ran the more durable softer-compound Pirelli tyre for much of the race as Mercedes covered their bases. The margin between the two? A whopping 19.783secs after 70 laps.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 6th, finished 3rd. Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, did not finish.

Verstappen looked the Bull most likely to make the top three after the first few hundred metres on Sunday, the Dutchman making an incredible start from fifth to challenge Hamilton into Turn 1, and changing the course of the race as he did so, sweeping into the corner across the bows of Vettel’s Ferrari and forcing the championship leader into an early pit stop. Hamilton soon cleared off, but Verstappen was in a solid second before a battery power issue saw him forced to park on the exit of Turn 2 just 11 laps in. Ricciardo then picked up the pieces on a circuit where Red Bull came in fearing the worst, keeping third under incessant pressure from Force India duo Perez and Ocon for the majority of his second stint after pitting for soft tyres on lap 18. It was the Australian’s third podium in a row, and his first in Canada since 2014, when he won a Grand Prix for the first time. As a test of his mental capacity, it was a stern examination that he passed with flying colours. Getting esteemed British actor Patrick Stewart to join him in a post-race shoey on the podium was something he wouldn’t have envisaged when he started from sixth on the grid.

Sebastian Vettel: qualified 2nd, finished 4th. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 4th, finished 7th.

Vettel looked like he’d need all of his 25-point championship lead from Monaco when he pitted just five laps into Sunday’s race, his front wing damaged after the clash with Verstappen. From 18th and dead-last, the German carved his way back through the pack, making a mockery of those who still question his overtaking ability after four world titles, and his audacious pass of Ocon’s Force India into the first corner five laps from home was both risky and brilliantly executed. Managing to score 12 points and finish six-tenths of a second behind old teammate Ricciardo for the final podium position was a superb salvage job that saw him leave Canada with a 12-point championship advantage. It broke his run of six straight podiums to start 2017, but in the circumstances, it was a strong result. Raikkonen, so fast in Monaco and so frustrated after it, reverted to type in Canada; the Finn was nearly seven-tenths of a second adrift of Hamilton’s pole time, and then made a poor start to be sixth by the time the field got halfway around the first lap. After the controversy of Monaco, Ferrari was spared having to make a tough call to potentially ask Raikkonen to move aside for a flying Vettel in the latter laps when the Finn’s car started to run into brake problems with nine laps left, and he limped home to hang onto fourth – just – from Ricciardo in the drivers’ standings.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 8th, finished 5th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 9th, finished 6th.

Force India has been the feel-good story for F1 neutrals in 2017, the little team that could placing both cars in the points in five of the opening six races to be a clear best of the rest behind Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. But all of the joy and back-slapping stopped sharply on Sunday; when Perez in fourth could make no ground on Ricciardo, Ocon asked his team to be allowed past his teammate to have a crack at the Australian, the team agreed, but Perez refused. What could have been a chance of a rare podium finish never materialised, and to make matters worse, Vettel stormed past both Pink Panthers to steal fourth with three laps to go. Perez was indignant, Ocon furious, and the team had 18 points that, in any other circumstances, would have been something worth celebrating.

Felipe Massa: qualified 7th, did not finish. Lance Stroll: qualified 17th, finished 9th.

Stroll has looked like a fish out of water for most of his opening six races, so it was quite the surprise that the 18-year-old, who grew up not far from the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, played his cards so right on Sunday to score his first world championship points, and showed some assertive overtaking prowess along the way. The teenager was part elated, part relieved to finally make a contribution to Williams’ 2017 points tally, and it was a timely day to do it after Massa’s race lasted all of two corners, the Brazilian taken out by Sainz’s spinning Toro Rosso as he braked for Turn 3 on the opening lap. Bizarre stat fact of the weekend: in 15 years of racing in Montreal, Saturday was the first time Massa had out-qualified a teammate in Canada.

Fernando Alonso: qualified 12th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 16th, finished 14th.

Was Canada the beginning of the end of the McLaren-Honda axis, which promised so much in its second F1 guise but has so dreadfully underdelivered? Before the on-track action kicked off, McLaren executive director Zak Brown said Honda was “lost” on how to solve its ongoing engine problems, which Honda immediately refuted – despite the fact a scheduled Honda engine upgrade for Canada never saw the light of day as it wasn’t ready in time. Alonso said his Friday was “totally wasted” after a hydraulics issue with his engine stopped him in first practice, while teammate Vandoorne had a problem with the hybrid generator in his car’s engine on Friday. It wasn’t much better in the race, Alonso flirting with scoring McLaren’s first points of the year before retiring with an engine failure two laps from home, and Vandoorne finishing second-last as McLaren was 27km/h slower than the Ferraris down the back straight. McLaren brass were seen in discussions with Mercedes head honchos over the weekend, and getting a divorce from Honda may be the only thing that could entice their greatest asset – Alonso – to stick around for next year, especially after the Spaniard said he would definitely stay if the team won this year. Considering McLaren hasn’t yet scored a point in 2017, that’s a complete pipedream.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 11th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 13th, did not finish.

A Sunday to forget for STR in Canada, Sainz being collected by Grosjean’s Haas and then careering into Massa on the first lap, and Kvyat’s car getting stuck on the grid for the warm-up lap before the Russian was penalised for taking up his original grid spot rather than starting at the back. An engine failure finally stopped him in the pits on lap 58.

Romain Grosjean: qualified 14th, finished 10th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 18th, finished 12th.

Grosjean was scathing of Sainz after the first-lap incident – “what a mental guy” he screamed over the radio – but the Frenchman was slightly happier after 70 laps when he bagged the final point on offer, just holding off Palmer’s Renault and teammate Magnussen to finish 10th after having to stop after the first lap with front wing damage. Magnussen rolled the dice with an atypical strategy – he was one of just two drivers to start on the more durable supersoft tyres – but any early-race gains went down the drain when he was given a five-second time penalty for overtaking under the virtual safety car called upon to remove Verstappen’s stricken Red Bull from the circuit when it broke down.

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 15th, finished 11th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 10th, finished 8th.

Stroll’s ninth place leaves Hulkenberg as the only driver who has scored all of his team’s points in 2017, the German easily the pick of the Renault pair to finish eighth after a top-10 qualifying effort on Saturday. Hulkenberg was more than half a second clear of Palmer in both Friday practice sessions, qualified eight-tenths of a second and five places ahead of the Briton, and was the final driver not lapped by race-winner Hamilton as he took his fourth top-10 result in seven races. Palmer at least got out of the bottom five in qualifying for the second time this year, but hasn’t beaten his teammate in qualifying or a race yet this season, and doesn’t look likely to either.

Marcus Ericsson: qualified 19th, finished 13th. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 20th, finished 15th.

Wehrlein had nothing to lose by taking a new gearbox for Sunday’s race and starting from the pit lane after a messy crash at Turn 1 in qualifying, but could make no headway and finished last; Ericsson was an anonymous 13th as Sauber did little more than make up the numbers in Montreal.


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