Hamilton becomes seventh 2012 winner in Canada
10 June 2012 – Lewis Hamilton has won the Canadian Grand Prix for the third time and now leads the Drivers’ Championship. The seventh different winner in as many races this year, the McLaren driver made one extra pit-stop before passing Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. As the tyres of the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers fell off the cliff, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Pérez handsomely collected their second podium finishes.
On Saturday, Vettel had claimed his second consecutive pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Under clear skies on Sunday, the World Champion targeted Red Bull’s first victory in Montreal as Hamilton and Alonso sat behind him on the grid. Further back, rostrum finishers Grosjean and Pérez were seventh and 15th as the red lights went out, with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams 22nd after taking a five-place gearbox penalty.
A clean start is rare here, but most drivers remained in grid order over the opening few laps. A notable mover was Felipe Massa, who stormed past Nico Rosberg after an entertaining battle, only to spin out of contention at Turn 2 just minutes later. Running as high as fifth in the opening stages was Paul di Resta, but the Force India driver lost out badly during the pit window as he and team-mate Nico Hülkenberg both, surprisingly, failed to score.
In the top three, it was all change as the pit lane action began. Vettel was caught by Hamilton and Alonso, thus deciding to peel off on the 16th lap; Hamilton followed suit one tour later, suffering a brief anti-stall moment but still managing to leapfrog the Red Bull. Alonso elected for two more laps before rejoining ahead of both rivals, confirming a reversal of the order in the top trio. Just moments later, Hamilton seized the initiative by passing in the DRS zone; the 2008 World Champion then began to extend his leading advantage.
Only four cars failed to make the chequered flag; HRT saw both drivers drop out of the running, with Narain Karthikeyan spinning at Turn 1 before a highly disappointed Pedro de la Rosa stopped with overheating front brakes. Unbelievably, luck was still not on Michael Schumacher’s side as his DRS flap became stuck open; the German has now scored just two points in seven races. The final retiree, following a spin, was Marussia’s Timo Glock.
Back at the front, a tone of panic began to set in for McLaren who were worried that neither Alonso nor Vettel would pit for a second time. As the final pit-stop window came and went, it became obvious that Hamilton would be forced to set fastest laps to hunt down those in front of him. At the same time, effective strategies for Grosjean and Pérez – who had each made one stop but not had to push as hard as Alonso and Vettel – also started to light up the timing screens. Hamilton duly passed Vettel on Lap 62 before doing likewise with Alonso for the lead just two laps later.
With Vettel pitting on a bid to limit the damage, the leading Lotus and Sauber drivers overhauled Alonso to confirm a highly unexpected podium order. Following his second stop, Vettel was now four seconds per lap quicker than Alonso, whose tyres were destroyed, and easily grabbed fourth place. On the final lap, the Ferrari narrowly defended the last top five position from Nico Rosberg, whose Mercedes finished just four tenths of a second behind.
Monaco winner Mark Webber had a quiet drive to seventh place, with Kimi Räikkönen rising to eighth from 12th on the grid. The points positions were rounded out by Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa, who enjoyed several exciting duels but is lamenting his spin in the early stages. A depressing weekend for Jenson Button ended with only 16th; the Englishman has struggled since suffering problems in Friday practice and did not have sufficient pace to take advantage of an alternative strategy, making his 2011 win all but a distant memory.
Lewis Hamilton’s first victory since Abu Dhabi last season leaves him atop the championship standings for the first time since mid-April. Again victorious on the track where he first triumphed in F1 five years ago, his 18th career win equals the total sum of Kimi Räikkönen.
Round 8 of the 2012 Formula 1 season takes place in a fortnight, with the Valencia Street Circuit hosting the European Grand Prix for the fifth time