Canadian Grand Prix

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.


Front to back: the Canadian Grand Prix

Our review of every F1 team and driver from Sunday’s race in Montreal.


Lewis Hamilton:
qualified 1st, finished 1st
Nico Rosberg: qualified 2nd, finished 5th
The record books will show Hamilton won from pole at the circuit that has become his happiest of hunting grounds, but this was far from a routine victory, the Briton’s blood pressure surely rising when he made another poor getaway off the line to be mugged by Vettel into the first corner. But Mercedes kept their nerve where Ferrari arguably lost theirs, sticking with their original plan to pit the reigning world champion just once and banking on track position being king around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The decisive moment of the race came on lap 61, when the pursuing Vettel ran wide at the final chicane for the second time – the same lap race-leader Hamilton did his best lap of the race to extend his margin to over six seconds. Hamilton’s fifth win in Canada makes the Montreal circuit the most successful in his 10-season career. Rosberg’s championship lead, 43 points just three races ago, has been slashed to just nine on a weekend where he could never keep his teammate’s pace, and was elbowed out of the way at the first corner by Hamilton in a dismissive manner reminiscent of 2015. After dropping to 10th on lap one, an unscheduled pit stop for a slow puncture enlivened Rosberg’s race for the final 18 laps and he had several goes at Verstappen at the final chicane, but a spin on the penultimate lap saw him consigned to fifth, and left Hamilton breathing down his neck in the title chase.

Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 3rd, finished 2nd
Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 6th, finished 6th
Was this a race Mercedes won, or one Ferrari lost? Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene chose the latter after the race, where Vettel relinquished his advantage earned from a quite brilliant start to pit on lap 11 when the virtual safety car was brought into play after Button’s McLaren retired, a move that committed him to a two-stop strategy that proved unnecessary. “We overestimated the degradation on the tyres,” a glum Arrivabene said post-race, “and we called him in – it was the wrong decision.” After Australia, where Vettel led only to be placed on a strategy that was as conservative as it was wrong, that’s two victories the Scuderia has arguably gifted a team that’s quite clearly good enough to win races without anyone’s assistance. Vettel was left with too much to do and not enough laps to do it after his final pit stop on lap 37, and while he spent a lot of his race ranting about backmarkers over the radio, he was – publicly at least – quite pleased after the race, knowing Ferrari has the raw speed (if seemingly not the strategic sharpness) to fight with Mercedes on track. Qualifying and finishing sixth was an apt return for an anonymous race for Raikkonen, who finished 58 seconds behind Vettel on an identical strategy. The Finn drove a clean race and didn’t make any mistakes, which perhaps is easier to do when the car isn’t being pushed to its capabilities.

Front to back: what happened at Monaco?

Felipe Massa:
qualified 8th, did not finish
Valtteri Bottas: qualified 7th, finished 3rd
Unexpected joy for Williams in Montreal, with Bottas taking the team’s first podium of the season to replicate his third place at the same circuit last year. The Finn used a one-stop strategy and made the most of the prodigious straight-line speed of the Mercedes-powered Williams to take the first podium for the team since Mexico late last year, and won the race within a race between himself, Raikkonen, the recovering Rosberg and the two Red Bulls, given Hamilton and Vettel were so far up the road. Massa on the other hand had a disastrous trip to Canada – he’s never out-qualified a teammate in Montreal in 13 visits, and his race ended abruptly on lap 37 when his engine temperatures skyrocketed while he was running in the back-end of the top 10. It ruined the Brazilian’s record of being the only driver to have scored points in every race this season.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 4th, finished 7th
Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, finished 4th
Like Monaco last time out and Spain before that, Ricciardo’s Saturday promise turned to disappointment on Sunday, the Australian finishing seventh in a race where he expected to be in the mix for a victory. It didn’t take quite as long in this race for things to go pear-shaped – Ricciardo made a good initial getaway but snatched a brake into turn one, and then found himself having to take avoiding action from Rosberg as the Mercedes re-joined the circuit after his brush with Hamilton, Verstappen jumping him in the chaos. A direction from the pit wall for Verstappen to let Ricciardo come past wasn’t heeded by the time of the virtual safety car for Button’s demise on lap 11, and a flat spot after braking too late for the final chicane – and a stuttering pit stop to replace the damaged tyre on lap 39 – put paid to any chances Ricciardo had of getting back into the podium fight. Verstappen showed his attacking and defensive qualities in equal measure, scooting off after Vettel and Hamilton in the early stages, and then defending for all his worth against Rosberg to retain fourth in the final laps, forcing the championship leader into a spin at the last chicane with some wise racecraft. Eighteen points for the team was reasonable, but more would have been expected given where both cars started. Statistical footnote: by qualifying fourth on Saturday, Ricciardo is the only driver not to have been beaten in qualifying by a teammate in seven races this season.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
qualified 9th, finished 8th
Sergio Perez: qualified 11th, finished 10th
It wasn’t quite the high of a third (Perez) and sixth (Hulkenberg) for Force India two weeks’ ago in Monaco, but five points between the drivers on Sunday kept the team in fifth place in the constructors’ standings, and was achieved completely on merit. Hulkenberg was a lapped eighth but did all that could have been expected of him, while Perez elected to start on the soft tyre and try another of his trademark one-stop economy runs to the flag, but had to take a second set of tyres late in the race to ensure a points finish, the “summer” temperatures of 12 degrees (air) and 22 degrees (track) making for higher than expected tyre wear.

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 17th, did not finish
Kevin Magnussen: qualified 22nd, finished 16th
Palmer’s wait for a first F1 points finish continues, the Briton sidelined on lap 18 with a water leak after frustratingly missing Q2 on Saturday by just 0.015 seconds. Teammate Magnussen saw the end after seeing the start from the very back, the Dane not able to take part in qualifying on Saturday after a big shunt in the final practice session. Finishing just 16th and behind one Sauber (Ericsson) and in a fight with the Manors and the other Sauber of Nasr wouldn’t have improved his mood, though.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat:
qualified 13th, finished 12th
Carlos Sainz: qualified 16th, finished 9th
Hamilton took the win, Vettel the plaudits for a supreme start, and Bottas the pats on the back for a surprise podium – but there’s an argument for Sainz being the man of the Montreal match after the Spaniard scythed his way from 20th on the grid into the points on race day. Sainz came off second-best with a meeting with the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ in Q2 and then had a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, but finishing between the Force India drivers was an excellent two-point reward for an afternoon of never giving in. Kvyat’s weekend was compromised before he even got to Montreal after carrying a three-place grid penalty into the race after his incident with Magnussen at Monaco, and he’s managed just one point in three races since being demoted from Red Bull Racing, Sainz scoring 14 across Spain, Monaco and now Canada.

Felipe Nasr:
qualified 20th, finished 18th
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 19th, finished 15th
The good news after Monaco was that the Saubers didn’t hit one another in Canada; the bad news for Nasr was that someone else hit him, as Magnussen spun the Brazilian at Turns 3-4 on the first lap. A pit stop on lap 10 had him nursing his tyres to the end, with no chance to score some first points for 2016. Ericsson had a three-place grid penalty after Monaco for the aforementioned Sauber shambles, and finished a lonely race eight seconds behind Grosjean in 14th, and 10 seconds ahead of the trailing Magnussen.

Jenson Button:
qualified 12th, did not finish
Fernando Alonso: qualified 10th, finished 11th
A disappointing day for McLaren where points were always going to be hard to come by, the team still finding its speed deficit on the long straights to be its Achilles heel. Button was the first driver to retire after his engine cried ‘enough’, while Alonso questioned the merits of continuing to the end with six laps to go when running half a minute outside the points, but was cajoled into seeing the chequered flag after a race that snapped the team’s modest three-race run of points finishes.

Pascal Wehrlein:
qualified 18th, finished 17th
Rio Haryanto: qualified 21st, finished 19th
Manor’s straight-line speed wasn’t an issue – Wehrlein was fourth-quickest through the speed trap in qualifying – but the corners proved more difficult for F1’s minnows, who were anchored towards the back for the entire weekend. Wehrlein pulled out a superb lap in qualifying to miss Q2 by a mere 0.020 seconds, and the German finished a whopping 44 seconds ahead of his Indonesian teammate, Haryanto never really getting back on terms with the track after clouting the wall in Q1.

Romain Grosjean:
qualified 15th, finished 14th
Esteban Gutierrez: qualified 14th, finished 13th
Grosjean started behind his teammate for the second straight race and got a little too close on lap one, the cars touching and Grosjean complaining of front-wing damage in the first stint. There’s no question that the car is being pushed to its limit by both drivers, Gutierrez finishing half a second ahead of his teammate after 92 minutes of racing, but the early-season deluge of points has turned into a trickle for F1’s newest team, Haas managing just four points total across the past four Grands Prix.

Five reasons to love the Canadian GP

Why getting up (or staying up) in Oz for Montreal is simply magic.


The Canadian Grand Prix is the ultimate test of a Formula One fan’s commitment in Australia. The early stages of winter, a 4am Monday start if you’re on the east coast … this is a race for the purists, the obsessed, and the insomniacs. Casual fans need not apply.

When Mark Webber was on the grid, Montreal was (along with Melbourne) a genuine bogey track; it took the Red Bull racer nine years from his debut to finally make a Canadian podium in 2011, and his third place that day was his sole moment in the sun at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 11 attempts.

For Webber’s successor and compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, Montreal has been similarly bleak except for one momentous occasion – the 2014 race where the West Australian took the lead of a Grand Prix for the first time in the shadows of the chequered flag, and duly brought it home for his maiden F1 victory. As Ricciardo’s (admittedly fuzzy) recollection goes, flights were postponed and adult beverages drunk; back in Australia, as morning broke, those fans who had pulled an all-nighter were feeling weary, but euphoric. And, encouraged by a former Aussie F1 great (more on that later), reaching for something stronger than usual to accompany their breakfast.

“Canada’s easily one of my top five races,” Ricciardo beams, and we’re not disagreeing with him. Here’s five reasons why we love F1’s annual visit to Montreal.

1. The most ridiculous race ever
Four hours and four minutes. Again, four hours and four minutes. Think of the craziest F1 race imaginable, multiply it by 100 and you have the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. Even if it did end up with Red Bull having red faces after losing a race that was well won long before the flag finally fell.

The short(ish) version. It was wet and the race started behind the safety car. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Webber collided at the first corner. Hamilton then hit teammate Jenson Button on lap seven and retired. Button was to later get a penalty for speeding in pit lane and clashed with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and dropped to last. The wet got wetter and caused a two-hour delay, with the circuit resembling the nearby St Lawrence Seaway. When the race resumed, an accident for Nick Heidfeld (Sauber) on lap 56 caused the sixth (sixth!) safety car of the race. Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) led for the majority of the race and had a one-second lead going into the final lap before running wide at turn six, allowing Button, who had stormed through the field after making six (six!) pit stops, to move into the lead. He duly converted for one of the more improbable victories in F1 history; to this day, that final lap is the only lap he’s ever led in Montreal. McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh was astonished. “I think it was one of the best wins in the history of F1, let alone his,” he said of Button’s brilliance. It’s hard to argue.

2. Stars take their first bow here
Jean Alesi was one of the more popular drivers on the grid in his 201-race F1 tenure, but his one and only success came in Montreal in 1995. He’s far from the last man to break through here – Hamilton won his maiden GP (in his sixth start) for McLaren in his rookie year of 2007, while Robert Kubica’s only F1 win came in Canada in 2008 as part of a 1-2 for BMW-Sauber with Heidfeld. The Pole’s success came a year after one of the more terrifying accidents in recent F1 history in Canada, which saw him miss the race the following weekend at Indianapolis, opening the door for a fresh-faced German named Sebastian Vettel to step in as his temporary replacement. And then Ricciardo won his first GP in Canada in 2014, taking over at the front from Nico Rosberg on the third-last lap. Ricciardo’s compatriot Alan Jones, the 1980 F1 world champion who was hosting the Australian Network Ten coverage in the wee hours, suddenly got a bit thirsty. “I don’t care that it’s six o’clock in the morning, I’m going to have a beer,” Jones said; he surely wasn’t the only Australian to raise a glass to Ricciardo that morning.

3. The Wall of Champions
The Montreal layout looks seemingly innocuous on paper, but from behind the wheel, it’s full of trapdoors and trip wires that can catch drivers out at any time. Nowhere does that ring more true than Turns 13-14, the final chicane at the end of the lap that brings the cars back onto the start-finish straight. Ever since Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and home hero Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the wall at the exit of the final corner in 1999, the ‘Wall of Champions’ has claimed many a victim. Ralf Schumacher, Heidfeld, Rubens Barrichello, Button, Vettel and Bruno Senna are just some of the other drivers to end their days in Montreal after sparking a shower of carbon fibre by clouting the wall, which for years featured a “Bienvenue au Quebec” (“Welcome to Quebec”) insignia, a slogan that only added insult to the (car) injuries suffered by the drivers who smacked into it. With Pastor Maldonado off the 2016 grid, it’s harder to pick a favourite from the current driver crop as to who hits it first this weekend. But someone will, count on it.

4. Canadian weirdness
Perhaps it’s the viewing hours for those fans watching in Australia, but the strange moments in Canada always seem stranger than other Grands Prix. There’ll inevitably be a groundhog sighting at some stage over the weekend; Montreal city officials typically trap as many groundhogs as they can find around the Ile Notre-Dame circuit and transport the animals to nearby Ile Ste-Helene in the lead-up to the event, but one or two will always emerge to play chicken with F1 cars at inopportune times. Anthony Davidson’s race for Super Aguri in 2007 was ended when he hit what he thought was “a beaver”, while last year, Felipe Massa got a fright when one rodent took its time crossing in front of the Williams driver as he was busily keeping Romain Grosjean’s Lotus behind him.

It’s not just mammals that prompt strangeness either. The aforementioned six safety cars in 2011 was clearly too much for one marshal, while in 1991, Nigel Mansell dramatically stopped a few corners from home after leading comfortably, prompting a (possibly apocryphal) tale of a British tabloid journalist amending his headline from ‘You Silly Fuel’ when it was first thought the Williams driver had run out of petrol to ‘Oh Gear, Oh Gear’ when it emerged that Mansell’s gearbox had given up when he was waving to the crowd on his final lap. And then in 2008, after an early safety car caused by the stricken Force India of Adrian Sutil, race leader Hamilton failed to notice the pit-lane exit lights were still red as he prepared to rejoin the fray, ploughing straight into the back of a stationary Kimi Raikkonen and eliminating both cars on the spot. What weirdness might we see this weekend?

5. Gilles Villeneuve stories
Coming at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Canadian GP is an annual reminder of one of the most beloved and spectacular drivers the sport has ever seen – and a chance to again hear of the great feats that made Canada’s favourite son so revered. The signage on the start-finish line? Permanent, and perfect.