The finger was wagged, the thump of the fist was out there. There was no ‘Silver-ware’ gushing from the top step of the podium, and no declarations- “Canadian fans are the best fans out there”- either.
Ferrari had upstaged Mercedes at Lewis Hamilton-land as Grand Prix racing went down to Gilles Villeneuve territory for round seven of the 2018 season.
They are already saying that Ferrari’s win at Montreal is a wake-up call for the Mercedes and Red Bulls.
Lewis Hamilton has already in the immediate aftermath of the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix, issued what seems like a cleverly delivered rhetoric, “Ferrari will falter in the title battle”.
And while none of us has the talent to be a Nostradamus, the truth, for now, is that Vettel has spoiled the Mercedes party in the cool nippy breeze of Canada.
The math in Vettel’s Canada win
In winning his 50th Grand Prix, but only the 2nd at Canada, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has re-done the math of the 2018 Formula 1 season. Overall, this was only the 2nd time that Vettel could convert 4 pole positions at Montreal into a race win, his last hurrah at Canada coming way back in 2013- in a season of dominance with Red Bull.
Vettel’s clean, error-free win, also augurs well to brandish some of Ferrari’s record, whose last win here came at the back of Michael Schumacher in 2004.
Comparatively, Ferrari’s only race-win here ever since Vettel joined the team in 2015 outplaces what’s clearly been a Hamilton-dominant saga, the Briton completing a hat-trick of wins here ever since 2015 season, wherein he won from Pole.
How does the fight to the championship stand now
Entering Montreal on Sunday’s epic race-day, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel trailed title-rival Lewis Hamilton by 14 points. As the German exits Canada, the maple-leaf reads, Vettel-121 points, 1 ahead to Hamilton’s 120. The difference, fans might note, is of a minuscule, even ignorable solitary point, but it has inarguably, given Ferrari some breathing ground, whose last win came at the behest of Vettel’s triumph at Bahrain.
But just how important was this win for Vettel, who missed out the top-shot at the podium for not one but four races starting China, Azerbaijan, Spain and, Monaco, could be understood by the sight of the point’s leader running around in the aftermath of parking his blood-shot red car. no 5 holding a Ferrari flag in hand.
But the relatively, easy win transpired on account of a dominant run ever since the race went green at Canada, even if that meant two massive retirements further back the grid.
How it all panned out for Vettel
In Lap 1, just around Turn 2, within seconds of the start, the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley crashed into the Williams of Lance Stroll. The two colliding into the barriers meant that local boy with great support wouldn’t even stroll past the checkered flag, let alone speed up, the two thankfully emerging unhurt.
This would leave the number of cars contending for number one spot to 18, of which McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, entering an epic 300th Grand Prix, would register a DNF losing drive in a car that’s suddenly begun to behave strangely. Meanwhile, up in the front, Vettel got away nice and clean from a Bottas who didn’t, for the life of him, have a chance at catching the German.
As Verstappen, P3, began mounting a challenge to the Mercedes, registering an error-free race, staying true to his potential (second podium since Spain), his teammate Daniel Ricciardo would jump Raikkonen, then P5, in the opening lap itself to send the other Ferrari down to 6th whilst clocking up a good position behind Hamilton, who begun fourth.
With both the Red Bulls beginning their Canada challenge on the ultra-softs akin to Hamilton, there weren’t any tyre ware as Verstappen until lap 11, continued delivering fastest laps.
Daniel passes Kimi, to battle Lewis
The battle would later intensify, with Bottas staying glued to his P2 despite a slow pit-stop of 3.2 seconds doing nothing to compromise his track position, leaving Max with a lot of catching up to do.
But as Vettel pitted much later, clearly the over-cut working for Ferrari, his identical 2.7 seconds stop as teammate Raikkonen would deliver polarised results for Ferrari. While Vettel’s timely stop held him cleanly in track position, the Finn battled Hamilton, having emerged behind the Briton on P6. This would mean, Kimi, despite pitting for a fresher set of tyres (at least 4 laps fresher in age) would find it surprisingly hard to challenge Lewis, who despite keeping a lacklustre Kimi behind, was involved unsuccessfully in passing Ricciardo, who held on to a well-judged P4.
It wasn’t that the battle for supremacy for fourth would be dull as for nearly 40 laps, Hamilton kept coming in hard at Ricciardo, who delivered a master-class in defending from a racing supremo, someone who’s won at Canada on 6 occasions.
In the end, even as the final qualification echoed Saturday’s qualifying result, the starting three holding on to their deserving podiums, the biggest gainer and loser of the race, you’d have to say were Ferrari.
Is Kimi losing it?
Even as beginning his Canada challenge from P4 meant that Hamilton never really looked solidly in contention for a win whilst Vettel delivered a clinical race performance, Raikkonen, who has no history of winning at Canada, dropped down to P6.
For Ferrari fans, who would want to make a sense of the result, the presence of Raikkonen doing lacklustre races whilst being in a visibly-superior machinery than the Renault’s and Haas’ and Williams’, may not exactly result into a grin.
Spare a thought for Nico
But that said, the biggest gainer of the race was Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who not only overcame the acerbic challenge of the backmarkers but secured a vital P7, a sign of consistency igniting the prospect of an ever better performance to come