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Hamilton cruises to Montreal win

NEWS STORY
11/06/2017

While Toto Wolff's continued claim the Mercedes is the underdog took a bit of a battering from Lewis Hamilton yesterday afternoon, there is no doubt that Ferrari would dearly love to prove the Austrian correct today.

While the Briton's two qualifying laps were little short of magnificent, and fully deserving of the Ayrton Senna tribute, but for mistakes from both Ferrari drivers it could have been entirely different.

Furthermore, unlike Monaco and various other tracks, pole position is not that important here.

On the other hand, getting through the first couple of corners is.

For much of the weekend the Ferraris have looked invincible, suggesting that Wolff may have a point. However, when the chips were down Hamilton dug deep and the underdog took a bite of the Prancing Horse's rear.

That said, the Ferraris looked good for a reason, and there is a feeling that today's warmer temperatures added to Mercedes issues with getting its tyres up to working temperature quickly could see the Maranello team prove victorious.

A typically strong start from Vettel and Raikkonen could see the race pretty much decided at the first corner.

However, Montreal has a reputation for producing the unexpected, and therefore we could be entering no-mans-land here.

It was in Canada, albeit at the Mosport Park circuit, that F1 first witnessed the Safety Car, and it's worth noting that 13 of the last 18 races here in Montreal have witnessed at least one appearance by the Safety Car or VSC, courtesy of the fast nature of the track and those unforgiving barriers just a few inches from the edge of the track.

Consequently, let's not write off the Red Bulls pulling a surprise today, or maybe even a Force India.

In terms of tyre strategy, there are a number of options. The quickest is a one-stopper, whereby its ultrasofts for 22 laps then a 48-lap stint to the end, alternatively ultrasofts for 33 laps then a 37-lap stint on supersofts.

On the other hand drivers could opt for a two-stopper; comprising two 22-lap stints on ultrasofts and a 26-lap stint on supersofts.

Last year, Hamilton won the race on a one-stop strategy, while second placed Vettel opted for two stops.

Two drivers who really do need a result soon are Jolyon Palmer and Lance Stroll, though starting from 15th and 17th today both will be hard pressed to make an impression. Indeed, with an eye on those barriers both would be well advised not to try any heroics.

While many believed Monaco was the perfect opportunity for McLaren to open its 2017 points account, with its hard-earned fearsome reputation Montreal might be the place where the planets finally align.

As the pitlane opens, the air temperature is 28 degrees C, while the track temperature is 40 degrees. It is bright but with lots and lots of cloud. A significant factor could be the strong wind blowing across the pit and back straights.

Indeed, Sainz reports on his way to the grid that he struggled to get top gear on the back straight due to the wind.

The drivers head to the front of the grid for the national anthem and another (sigh) minute's silence, this time for last week's terrorist atrocity in London... and possibly Manilla...

As they head off on the warm-up lap, all are on the ultrasofts bar Magnussen and Wehrlein who are on softs. Incidentally, the German is starting from the pitlane after Sauber changed his rear wing overnight following his Q1 crash.

All get away except Kvyat who is left stranded on the grid until his crew get him going and will therefore start from the back.

A great start from Hamilton, while Verstappen rockets up the outside taking those ahead completely by surprise, not least Vettel, the youngster ripping off part of the German's front wing. As they come out of T2 he already second.

Into T3 and a spinning, out of control Sainz hits Massa having only just avoided taking out Grosjean previously, the Spaiard running the Haas off track.

"What the... what a mental guy!" cries Grosjean. "What the!"

The Safety Car is deployed as Sainz and Massa climb from their cars.

Behind the Safety Car, Hamilton leads, Verstappen, Bottas, Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Perez, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Kvyat.

At the end of lap 1, Grosjean and Wehrlein pit.

The Stewards are investigating the Sainz incident but no mention of Grosjean who was involved, hence the stop for a new wing.

"What they are doing?" asks Alonso. "Crazy start... they need to calm down."

At the end of lap 3 the Safety Car is withdrawn, Verstappen is all over Hamilton. Meanwhile, a piece of front wing blew across the track at the re-start, but who's?

It was Vettel's, the German, having lost a bit more of his car following that first corner clash, pits at the end of lap 4. Elsewhere, replay shows Raikkonen having a big moment and losing out to Perez.

In fact, Vettel doesn't pit and instead continues in 4th, but the car will be horrible to drive.

Next time around he does pit, rejoining in 18th on supersofts with a new nose.

After 5 laps, Hamilton leads Verstappen by 1.9s with Bottas 1.3s down on the Red Bull.

"Debris between Turns 7 and 8," Hamilton is warned, as the stewards investigate Kvyat for failing to regain position before the Safety Car line on formation lap.

Replay shows Verstappen cutting across Vettel at the re-start causing the damage to the German's front wing.

As Ricciardo is given a gee-up and get clear of Perez, Verstappen grinds to a halt at T2. The VSC is deployed.

Hulkenberg takes advantage of the VSC to pit, while the camera cuts to a dejected Helmut Marko in the Red Bull garage. Palmer and Ericsson also pit.

On-board coverage shows Verstappen's power suddenly cutting out, leaving the teenager less than happy.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Montreal, here.

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