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2016 Canadian Grand Prix: A Tale Of 3 Starts And 2 Stops

15 June 2016 - Autoblog

2016 Canadian Grand Prix: A Tale Of 3 Starts And 2 Stops

The first curve in the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix happened before Turn 1. Lewis Hamilton sat on pole in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas, Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari behind.

That order changed as soon as the lights went out. Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg started well enough, but Vettel flew off the line, passing Hamilton in just a few meters.

Vettel led through Turn 1 while Hamilton defended against Rosberg trying to pass on the outside by using the entire track. Hamilton bumped his teammate, sending Rosberg into the concrete runoff with an "infuriating but fair" maneuver Hamilton blamed on understeer. The Brit stayed second, his teammate fell to ninth by the time he rejoined the circuit and got back on the gas.

The Ferrari finally looked an even match for the Mercedes, Vettel slowly building a gap out front. On Lap 11 the Honda in Jenson Button's McLaren self-ignited just after the hairpin, forcing Button to pull over on the Casino Straight. A Virtual Safety Car slowed the field, convincing Ferrari to pit its drivers. Vettel came in, handing the lead to Hamilton. The marshals cleared Button's car more quickly than expected, so the scuderia didn't get the full time advantage it expected, sending Vettel back on track seven seconds behind the Mercedes.

Button's and Ferrari's unplanned stops decided the race. Ferrari had always planned to run a two-stopper, but the early pit didn't give the team a chance to gauge the ultra-soft Pirelli. The ultra-softs lasted longer than anyone expected. Hamilton only pitted once, Vettel had to pit again, and the Ferrari simply couldn't close the gap to the Mercedes even with newer tires.

Post-race commentary accused Ferrari of two blunders: giving up track position, and not taking advantage of Mercedes' only known weakness of not being nearly as good in dirty air. If the ultra-softs had fallen off a performance cliff, however, Ferrari's play would have been considered daring and brilliant. Hamilton took his second win of the season, followed by a hard-driving Vettel five seconds later.

Valtteri Bottas and Williams got everything right, the Finn taking advantage of a one-stop strategy, a perfectly-timed pit stop, and more unusual Red Bull issues to finish third. It's Williams' first podium of the year.

Max Verstappen claimed fourth after two pit stops, holding off a frustrated Rosberg who had to make an unscheduled stop to remedy a slow puncture. Kimi Räikkönen's turn-in issues relegated him to sixth, while another pit stop issue knocked Daniel Ricciardo's back to seventh. Force India scored another double points finish with Nico Hülkenberg in eighth and Sergio Perez in tenth, split by Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso with a fantastic recovery drive after starting at the back of the grid.

What can we take from the Canadian race to the European Grand Prix at Azerbaijan's Baku street circuit next week? Ferrari provided Vettel the pace to stay ahead of the Mercedes when leading. Mercedes still looks to have the edge in qualifying, but if Ferrari can perfect its technique everywhere else we might see real racing at the front before the end of the season.

The Italians have a harder road than the Germans, though, because Red Bull is close enough to capitalize on any Ferrari mistake. Red Bull's troubles in the pits, however, have continued three races in a row, compelling Ricciardo to urge the team to "up its game." The street circuit in Baku should let Red Bull emphasize its strengths.

Williams remains an unknown. Bottas' Canada podium last year was William's first of 2015. After that, the team scored three more podiums but only at power tracks. If that's true again this year, Williams could suffer through Baku but resurface on fire in Austria, where Felipe Massa finished third in 2015.

What's happened to Haas F1? Tires. The American team scored 18 points in the first two races but only four points in the following five races, dropping from fifth to eighth in the Constructor's Championship. Team boss Günther Steiner said the team finally understood how its chassis worked with the Pirelli rubber, but Canada delivered another hard lesson. Romain Grosjean said the Haas has trouble getting tires up to temperature on smooth tracks, hence issues at the "very smooth" Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This is the price of being a new team, and of having to make some tire choices before the season even begins.

The result in Montreal gets Hamilton right back in the Driver's Championship battle after being 43 points behind a few races ago. Rosberg still leads with 116 points, Hamilton now just nine behind at 107. Vettel slides up into third place with 78 points, sending Ricciardo to fourth with 72 points.

On the Constructor's side, Mercedes inched a few points ahead to 223. Ferrari climbs to 147 points, putting more space between it and Red Bull with 130 points. The next stop is Central Europe in six days, and we'll see you then.

FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2016 - RACE RESULT

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES701:31:05.29625
25Sebastian VettelFERRARI70+5.011s18
377Valtteri BottasWILLIAMS MERCEDES70+46.422s15
433Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER70+53.020s12
56Nico RosbergMERCEDES70+62.093s10
67Kimi RäikkönenFERRARI70+63.017s8
73Daniel RicciardoRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER70+63.634s6
827Nico HulkenbergFORCE INDIA MERCEDES69+1 lap4
955Carlos SainzTORO ROSSO FERRARI69+1 lap2
1011Sergio PerezFORCE INDIA MERCEDES69+1 lap1
1114Fernando AlonsoMCLAREN HONDA69+1 lap0
1226Daniil KvyatTORO ROSSO FERRARI69+1 lap0
1321Esteban GutierrezHAAS FERRARI68+2 laps0
148Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI68+2 laps0
159Marcus EricssonSAUBER FERRARI68+2 laps0
1620Kevin MagnussenRENAULT68+2 laps0
1794Pascal WehrleinMRT MERCEDES68+2 laps0
1812Felipe NasrSAUBER FERRARI68+2 laps0
1988Rio HaryantoMRT MERCEDES68+2 laps0
NC19Felipe MassaWILLIAMS MERCEDES35DNF0
NC30Jolyon PalmerRENAULT16DNF0
NC22Jenson ButtonMCLAREN HONDA9DNF0

2016 DRIVER STANDINGS

POSDRIVERNATIONALITYCARPTS
1Nico RosbergGERMERCEDES116
2Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES107
3Sebastian VettelGERFERRARI78
4Daniel RicciardoAUSRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER72
5Kimi RäikkönenFINFERRARI69
6Max VerstappenNEDRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER50
7Valtteri BottasFINWILLIAMS MERCEDES44
8Felipe MassaBRAWILLIAMS MERCEDES37
9Sergio PerezMEXFORCE INDIA MERCEDES24
10Daniil KvyatRUSTORO ROSSO FERRARI22
11Romain GrosjeanFRAHAAS FERRARI22
12Fernando AlonsoESPMCLAREN HONDA18
13Nico HulkenbergGERFORCE INDIA MERCEDES18
14Carlos SainzESPTORO ROSSO FERRARI18
15Kevin MagnussenDENRENAULT6
16Jenson ButtonGBRMCLAREN HONDA5
17Stoffel VandoorneBELMCLAREN HONDA1
18Esteban GutierrezMEXHAAS FERRARI0
19Jolyon PalmerGBRRENAULT0
20Marcus EricssonSWESAUBER FERRARI0
21Pascal WehrleinGERMRT MERCEDES0
22Felipe NasrBRASAUBER FERRARI0
23Rio HaryantoINAMRT MERCEDES0

2016 CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

POSTEAMPTS
1MERCEDES223
2FERRARI147
3RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER130
4WILLIAMS MERCEDES81
5FORCE INDIA MERCEDES42
6TORO ROSSO FERRARI32
7MCLAREN HONDA24
8HAAS FERRARI22
9RENAULT6
10SAUBER FERRARI0
11MRT MERCEDES0

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