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Hamilton wins in Canada

NEWS STORY
12/06/2016

It is only fitting that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, named after that legendary talent that barely gets a mention in the record books, rarely proves a race that is anything less than entertaining.

Like that French-Canadian, who remained loyal to one team, possibly at the cost of championship success and ultimately his life, it usually provides drama and excitement in spades.

Indeed, how fitting that the sport's other great mercurial talent whose achievements fall far short of what might have been, Jean Alesi, scored his sole GP win here.

Reflecting on Martin Sorrell's comments earlier this week, when the F1 board member dismissed heroes as a "romantic notion", give me a Gilles or a Jean over Virtual Reality and the bloody Kardashians any day of the week.

Though the weather still hasn't made its mind up what to do, we are likely to see heroics today. Then again, every time a man steps in to one of these machines aren't they taking on the mantle of hero anyway.

After all, yesterday a number of them, in almost perfect conditions, joked about kissing the Wall of Champions, which, let's face it, is a wall that could do untold damage... just ask Felipe, or Kevin, or Carlos. And that was in ideal conditions.

Sebastian Vettel joked that he kissed in order to get the 'tradition' out of the way before today's race.

Montreal awoke to rain and dark clouds and while the rain subsequently stopped and the sky brightened, conditions ever since have remained uncertain.

Lewis Hamilton starts from pole after what he described as not a good lap, though countless rivals would have been quite happy with it. Having appeared to lose ground to Red Bull on Friday, Ferrari, with its new turbo, looked much stronger on Saturday, allowing Sebastian Vettel to close to within 0.178s of pole.

Following his shocking performance in Monaco, Nico Rosberg has been looking more like the world championship leader he is this weekend. That said, today will really test his mettle, for not only is his championship lead down to 18 points, he is aware that teammate Hamilton is a four-time winner here.

Though Ferrari, certainly in Vettel's case, has made up ground, Red Bull is not hanging around and both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will be a serious threat today. In the Australian's case, whatever the conditions, he will be hoping that his team doesn't let him down as it did in Spain and Monaco. Max, on the other hand, merely needs to do what he does best and not get carried away by the hype or get over enthusiastic on what is a true racers circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen starts ahead of the two Williams and remains very much a dark horse. The SF16-H has been improved, and though the Kimster has had a couple of disappointing races we are certain that he is still able to spring a surprise.

Williams has had an up and down weekend, beginning with Felipe Massa's FP1 crash, and while Rob Smedley says he is disappointed to have the fourth quickest car, one has to wonder if he is being too kind to the FW38.

With an eye on the conditions one has to wonder if Force India could spring a surprise. The team usually reacts well to such conditions and Sergio Perez' Monaco podium appears to have given Nico Hulkenberg a much needed kick up the backside.

Another team looking to be in much better shape is McLaren, with Fernando Alonso making it to Q3 for the third successive race weekend. It's been a long, hard slog for the Woking outfit but it is slowly getting there.

Grid penalties for both Toro Rosso drivers - Kvyat for his Monaco silliness, Sainz for a gearbox change - will hamper the Faenza team, but in the right circumstance the team could yet leave her with some points. Kvyat obviously has the motivation, whilst Sainz is a rising star.

Having wrecked two cars in as many weekends, Renault will be happy to get back to Europe, whilst Manor and Sauber face another long afternoon.

Rain or not, conditions are unseasonably cool indeed, it is chilly. This, of course, is going impact tyres in the sense that drivers will face a real task in generating sufficient heat into them.

Track temperature will determine what the optimal strategy is. Consequently, we're looking at a one-stopper: starting on supersoft and then moving to soft on lap 26 is theoretically the fastest way.

If starting on ultrasoft (which all the top 10 will do), the strategy is extremely similar, with the change to soft coming one lap earlier, on lap 25.

Remember, if it is dry, the use of softs at some stage is mandatory, but if it rains...

The pitlane opens and one by one the drivers make their way out to the track. Force India reports a "light drizzle in the pitlane".

Over the years we've seen a number of incidents at the first corner, and over the course of the weekend just about everyone has had a moment there, not to mention the hairpin and final chicane... where the Wall of Champions awaits.

As we await the start of the warm-up lap, air temperature is a chilly 12 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 23 degrees. It is overcast, dry but quite windy. Indeed the wind appears to be coming off the St Lawrence and across the track.

Race control reports that there is a 40% chance of rain.

All are starting on the ultrasoft rubber bar Perez (soft), Button (super), Haryanto (super) and Magnussen (soft).

Hamilton leads the field away on the warm-up lap, all get away cleanly bar Magnussen who is starting from the pitlane.

"We should have a largely dry race to start with," reports Pirelli, "although the risk of rain is increasing towards the end. Who knows what will happen?" Indeed.

As the grid forms, Hamilton's car is already pointing at the outside edge of T1, the Briton making his intentions crystal clear.

They're away. A sensation start by Vettel who catches the Mercedes duo asleep. Rosberg is forced wide by Hamilton and misses the first corner and consequently drops back down the field to ninth. Elsewhere, Magnussen touches the rear of Nasr's Sauber causing the Brazilian to spin.

Raikkonen is all over Ricciardo, who has lost out to Verstappen.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Massa, Alonso, Hulkenberg and Rosberg.

At the end of lap one Vettel missed the final chicane, no doubt due to those cold brakes and tyres, but fully complies with the rules and doesn't have to yield.

Hulkenberg passes Alonso as Hamilton continues to hound Vettel.

Rosberg passes Alonso to take ninth, but there is still much work to do.

After 4 laps Hamilton is 0.9s down on Vettel who is setting a strong pace. Verstappen is a full 3.4s behind the Briton.

Check out our Sunday gallery, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Kkiirmki, 13/06/2016 22:30

"Rosberg really needs to get more aggressive. Rosberg has the championship lead; Hamilton has the most to lose if he gets punted off the track."

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2. Posted by FormerF1Fan, 13/06/2016 15:28

"Rosberg was so accepting because his team told him he has to put up and shut up. That's the way Germans do things. So Hamilton knows that in a 50-50 situation, he can do what he wants. Equally, Rosberg knows that he will get a roasting, so he gets out of Hamilton's way. It's sad that a "national hero" needs a leg-up, but he always has done, right from his very first championship...
"

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3. Posted by mickl, 13/06/2016 9:45

"I'm surprise Rosberg was so accepting of being bumped out of the way on the first corner by Lewis."

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