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5 things we learned from the Canadian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel moved one point ahead of Lewis Hamilton with his win in Montreal.

5 things we learned from the Canadian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel moved ahead of Lewis Hamilton in Formula One’s championship standings after his crushing victory in Canada.

Hamilton finished only fifth on Sunday, and departed North America one point adrift of his Ferrari rival.

Here, Press Association Sport looks back at five things we learned from the Montreal race.

1. Will Hamilton rue engine setback?

Hamilton insists he has 100 per cent faith in his Mercedes team, but the failure to bring their revised engine to Canada proved costly for the British driver. Mercedes have dominated the sport in recent times, but is the intensity of greater competition from both Ferrari and Red Bull taking its toll? Mercedes have made errors at four of the seven rounds so far. In Australia, a pit-wall timing glitch during a virtual safety car period denied Hamilton the victory. In Bahrain, he was penalised five grid places following a gearbox change. At the next race in China, Mercedes failed to bring Hamilton in for fresh tyres during a late safety car. And in Canada, Hamilton’s old engine contributed to his lowly fifth place. Cracks are certainly beginning to emerge, and team Mercedes boss Toto Wolff conceded as much after he described Sunday’s race as a “major wake-up call” for his team. Hamilton is still the favourite to win this championship, but he can ill-afford further mistakes by his once-dominant outfit.

2. Championship battle alive after Vettel win

Vettel’s dominant triumph sends a statement of intent to Hamilton and Mercedes. The German arrived in Montreal without a win in his last four races, but, after edging out Valtteri Bottas for pole and beating the Mercedes car off the starting line, he did not put a foot wrong and was thoroughly deserving of Ferrari’s first win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for 14 years. Vettel’s title chances appeared bleak after Hamilton moved clear of the Ferrari man following his victory at last month’s Spanish Grand Prix. But an 18-point swing over the last two races, hands the advantage back to Vettel and he will head to Paul Ricard – for F1’s first race back in France in a decade – leading his rival in the standings.

3. Max back on track

Max Verstappen was under pressure from the get-go after his ill-advised threat to “headbutt someone” following continued questioning over his accident-prone campaign. But the 20-year-old proved why he is so highly regarded as a driver with an impressive – and, crucially, incident-free – weekend in Montreal. Verstappen topped all three practice sessions, but the lack of grunt from his Renault-powered Renault meant he could not compete for pole. He attempted to pass Bottas at the first corner, but avoided contact with the Finn, and then kept him honest throughout the race, crossing the line less than one second behind the Mercedes car. Verstappen, and indeed his Red Bull team, will hope
his second podium of the season will steady what has been a rather turbulent ship.

4. More misery for McLaren

It seems rather bizarre that McLaren are spending time and resources on establishing an IndyCar team during the worst period in their F1 history. Fernando Alonso, competing in his 300th grand prix, started 14th on Sunday and retired with an exhaust issue. Stoffel Vandoorne finished last but one, and was lapped twice. McLaren have not had a driver on the podium for more than four years, last won a race in 2012, and seem to have no understanding as to how they can return to the front. Establishing a team in IndyCar may suit the their American chief executive Zak Brown, but surely there are more pressing matters for Britain’s most successful F1 team to deal with?

5. FIA review chequered flag procedure

The sport’s rulers were left red faced on Sunday night when Canadian model Winnie Harlow blamed race organisers for instructing her to wave the chequered flag prematurely. Although the result was not affected, Daniel Ricciardo’s fastest lap, which the Australian set at the death, did not count and was instead awarded to his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen. “The celebrity was not to blame,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said. “We need to review procedures and make sure we have a very simple procedure for every circuit. We’re dealing with different human beings, different countries, different languages and it’s not always absolutely perfect.”

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