Hamilton wins in Canada as Alonso’s gamble fails

2012 Canadian Grand Prix review

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2012Lewis Hamilton claimed his first win of 2012 in a riveting Canadian Grand Prix.

He led much of the race but a late pit stop left him needing to pass Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to claim the win.

In a dramatic end to the race Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez cam through the field to claim second and third place.

Vettel leads, Massa spins at the start

The race got off to an orderly start with the top six holding their positions: Vettel pulling away into the lead followed by Hamilton and Alonso.

Nico Rosberg made a good start but couldn’t find a way past Mark Webber in the opening corners. His attempts to find a way past allowed Felipe Massa to get a run at him.

After being held back for a lap the Ferrari driver squeezed through on the second tour. But it was short-lived: on lap six he spun at the exit of turn one and fell to 12th place.

By now Paul di Resta had also passed Rosberg so it was the Force India driver who took over fifth place.

Now on the back foot strategy-wise, Massa pitted on lap 13. Di Resta came on the next lap, which released a train of cars led by Rosberg.

Alonso leads briefly

As the front-runners drew closer to their pit stops Hamilton began to edge within range of Vettel. Alonso was coming with him as well, but just as it seemed a three-way battle for the lead would develop Vettel ducked into the pits on lap 17.

Hamilton led for a lap before pitting and, despite a sluggish getaway, returned to the track before Vettel had rounded turn two.

Alonso came in the next time by and Ferrari treated him to their usual five-star service. He scampered out of the pit lane before Hamilton and Vettel arrived, taking over the lead.

But Hamilton was already flying on his fresh tyres and now we had a battle for the lead on the track. Alonso ran deep at the hairpin, slowing down Hamilton in a bid to gain an advantage as they came out of the corner.

But the McLaren was on him as they crossed the DRS line and Hamilton was easily through. Vettel took a look at the Ferrari in the following laps but his car lacked the punch in a straight-line necessary to claim the place.

Hamilton moved back into the lead after Grosjean’s pit stop on lap 21, and pumped in a series of rapid laps to pull out a three-second lead.

Perez moves ahead in battle of one-stoppers

Behind the leading trio were three drivers yet to make their first stops: Kimi Raikkonen and the two Saubers, Kamui Kobayashi leading Sergio Perez.

All were on the soft tyres, which Jenson Button had also started on. But once again he was struggling for pace and he pitted for super-softs on lap 17.

It was the beginning of another poor race for the McLaren driver, who eventually made a second stop for more super-softs as he struggled to make either of the compounds work.

Kobayashi pitted on lap 24, allowing Perez onto Raikkonen’s tail. The Lotus driver stayed out another 17 laps before pitting and Perez went a lap further, jumping the Lotus driver in the proces. As he came out of the pits, Rosberg had just past Raikkonen, and the Mercedes driver beat the Sauber as it left the pit lane.

Hamilton pits, Alonso and Vettel stay out

Their pit stops put Webber back into fourth, but some way behind the leading trio. Hamilton was being kept informed of the gap to his pursuers but was concerned about strategy.

McLaren’s strategy became clear when Hamilton asked his crew if they thought Alonso and Vettel were going to try to make it to the end on a single stop when they were planning on making another. Shortly afterwards Hamilton was in.

Their problems in the pits have been well-documented this year and this stop didn’t go perfectly either – a slow change of the right-rear wheel kept him stationary for 5.5 seconds.

Alonso and Vettel didn’t flinch as Hamilton returned to the track and instantly began taking a second per lap out of them – making a second pit stop was clearly not in their plans.

Hamilton’s pace was relentless and with drivers able to pick each other off in the DRS zone with ease his passage into the lead looked increasingly inevitable. By lap 60, with ten to go, he was 1.6 seconds per lap faster than Alonso and the top three were covered by six seconds.

Vettel didn’t even bother to defend his position when Hamilton came at him with his DRS activated three laps later. With six laps to go, Red Bull bowed to the inevitable and called Vettel in for what in the refuelling days would have been called a ‘splash-and-dash’. This was more of a ‘rubber-and-run’.

Hamilton claims the win

At the same time Hamilton was all over Alonso, carefully eyeing a pass at turn eight while Alonso carefully defended his position. Hamilton, well aware there was no need for a hasty move, patiently waited for the DRS zone and reclaimed the lead.

It was the beginning of a painful end to the race for Ferrari. Incredibly Grosjean, who had made his single pit stop one lap after Alonso, was still lapping strongly and claimed second place with ease. Another one-stopper, Perez, took third place off him.

Ferrari also came to regret not emulating Red Bull’s tactics as the re-soled Vettel took fourth off Alonso. He had been fortunate to survive a brush with the Wall of Champions while wringing the maximum out of his RB8 after returning to the track. He claimed the fastest lap on the final tour.

Alonso slumps to fifth

Alonso lost four places to finish fifth, crossing the line with Rosberg less than half a second behind him. Webber was 1.2s behind them with the flying Raikkonen giving him grief – the Lotus driver set his fastest lap on the final tour and was 0.4s behind the Red Bull at the line.

Behind them came another pair of cars covered by less than a second, Kobayashi ahead of Massa.

Having run fifth early on Paul di Resta was a disappointed 11th, followed by his team mate. Pastor Maldonado ended another disappointing weekend for Williams in 13th, followed by the Toro Rosso pair.

Heikki Kovalainen in 18th was just 13s behind the other Williams of Bruno Senna, who in turn had Button in sight, 1.4s ahead and one lap down.

Hamilton takes title lead

Vitaly Petrov and Charles Pic also finished. The other Maurssia of Timo Glock retired as did both HRTs with brake trouble.

The final retirement was, once again, Michael Schumacher, after a broken hydraulic pipe jammed his DRS open.

Hamilton’s victory was his third in five appearances in Canada, on the fifth anniversary of his maiden F1 triumph.

After a difficult few races it puts him in the lead of the world championship. But as we’ve seen so far this year, that may not necessarily last very long.

2012 Canadian Grand Prix

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118 comments on Hamilton wins in Canada as Alonso’s gamble fails

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  1. S.J.M (@sjm) said on 10th June 2012, 22:29

    Shame for Alonso, but happy that Hamilton finally won this season and we got our 7th victor. Lewis really pumped in those laps to catch Seb & Fernando, it was fantastic to watch!

  2. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 10th June 2012, 22:31

    Well deserved. Hamilton’s been driving as well as ever this season in my opinion and he’s been rather unlucky too in a few races. I still say he’s favourite to take the title this year.

    Great to see Grosjean get another podium. Will not be in the least bit surprised if he gets a win this year and I hope that he does.

    Best thing was Checo, another podium for the team! What an incredible talent and what a brilliant season it is for this loveable privateer team. Great result all round. Very happy with the outcome of this race!

  3. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th June 2012, 22:34

    I’m so glad and thrilled for Lewis. This is perhaps his best win in the past three years … kind of equaling his win at the 2011 Chinese GP in terms of pure race craft.

    At the same time, this is Michael’s worst ever season just for the records. In all fairness, Spanish GP is the only event where he made a judgement error….5 technical issues in 7 races is mind blowing.

    • Actually, 1 technical issue in quali, 4 technical issues in races – including a pit stop blunder, 1 race destroyed by an eager Grosjean and one destroyed out of his own fault – something that can be put on the frustration accumulated in the first 4 races. All interconnected. So, 7 out of 7? Unbelievable season for Michael…

      • All this while Rosberg still has the WDC in reach, at least mathematically. Something’s not right at Mercedes…

        • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th June 2012, 22:49

          karma?…. lol

          • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 10th June 2012, 22:55

            LOL…! Rubens must be smiling a bit… hehe!

          • I’m actually starting to wonder whether the components on Michael’s car are different from what Rosberg has fitted on his. Maybe him acting like a developer, trying out alternative parts and agressive setups that in the end prove faulty?

            I know I might be a bit irrational as this is it’s too much of a “conspiration theory”-like long shot assumption but I can’t find another logical way of explaining this season so far. Too much bad luck to believe in anymore…

          • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th June 2012, 23:10

            He is having a run of bad luck in a year when he thought he can challenge the rest for podiums and championships. That’s the worst part. Even if Ross Brawn prefers Michael to stay back, there are no basic grounds to make him stay. I don’t think personally Nico Rosberg can lead the development of the Mercedes car if Michael does retire. It is not a secret.

          • Way too much bad luck at this level…but yeah…that’s probably it and if it is, it has to come to an end at some point…

            I hope it will. Given their situation in the WCC at the moment and the huge pressure for results put on the management by Mercedes as a factory.

            Frankly if Schumi doesn’t perform this year he might lose confidence in the team and decide to retire. And in this particular case, if Rosberg really is unable to act like a developer, I don’t see a reason for Mercedes to continue in F1…

          • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th June 2012, 23:36

            @tony031r true… but, then I have a feeling that MSC may extend his contract for 2 years…. atleast for 1 year

        • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 11th June 2012, 13:44

          Well, mathematically everyone still has the WDC in reach. There’s still 325 points up for grabs.

      • JCost (@jcost) said on 11th June 2012, 7:23

        What a pity. Bad luck doesn’t give him a break.

    • SFC said on 11th June 2012, 0:55

      His best win is China last year if you’d ask me.

  4. necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 10th June 2012, 22:37

    Hehe, ‘rubber-and-run’.

    What about ‘tire-and-spire’?

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 10th June 2012, 22:38

    How important were those laps after the first stop for Alonso and Vettel in the end. Grosjean, did almost the same race distance with the soft tyres and was remarkably quicker than both of them… and even Hamilton at one point!.

    I’d have never guessed the top 3… well, Hamilton’s win was expected to some extent, but Grosjean and specially Perez making it into the top 3 was incredible!

    And how well played by Red Bull. Yes, they risked and lost a podium, but they surrended to the inevitable quick enough to recover to fourth, just 1 place behind where they were beforehand. Damage limitation at its best.

    • ivz (@ivz) said on 10th June 2012, 23:48

      Perez starting P15 and finishing P3 just goes to show how strategy is king. Knowing how the car will perform throughout the race, and calling the right strategy at the right time, really makes all the difference. Highlights the fact, that if you are not quick enough to qualify near the front, you are much better off on sacrificing qualifying for a good race strategy.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 11th June 2012, 2:49

      I’m guessing that Hamilton was just trying to hold a gap to the others so that he could manage his tyres, and was surprised they weren’t actually pushing him harder, which prompted asking if they were on a 1-stop. He thought they would only be going so slow if they were seriously managing their tyres, even more than Hamilton. But at the same time, to keep in touch with Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel (although going slower than perhaps they would for a two stop) were having to go faster than they would to manage the tyres properly for a one-stop. Perhaps, if they’d hung back from Hamilton and not worried about keeping in touch, they could have made a one-stop work. Conversely, perhaps the two-stop would have worked if they’d followed Hamilton, particularly if they’d pushed him harder during the second stint. But they stuck to a doomed one-stop, which worked for Perez and Grosjean because they were very much running there own race instead of trying to match Hamilton.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 11th June 2012, 2:56

        Or maybe the pace that Vettel and Alonso ran at was actually what was comfortable for them to manage their tyres, having nothing to doing with keeping up with Hamilton, and both were just useless at managing the tyres compared to Perez and Grosjean. But I think my explanation might be more likely- after all, McLaren seemed sure that Red Bull and Ferrari were on a two-stop, probably because they could see they were running too fast to manage a one-stop effectively.

  6. JCF1 (@jcf1) said on 10th June 2012, 22:38

    Fantastic win for Lewis, the team really needed that! I assume that Alonso and Vettel were gambling on a probable late safety car or even a red flag (which would have allowed them to change tyres).

  7. David_paraguay said on 10th June 2012, 22:39

    Great race from hamilton, always fast in this track and today was no the exception, i hope mclaren(i.e button) could carry on this momentum in the next races

  8. rahzamkhan (@rahzamkhan) said on 10th June 2012, 22:41

    Alonso Not sleeping tonight.

    • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th June 2012, 23:02

      true that !!

    • tharris19 (@tharris19) said on 11th June 2012, 13:37

      Alonso probably slept well. He has eleven or twelve more race to fix this error. He will be fine. However, will Ferrari be up to the task. McLaren has two or three more races to blow for Hamilton in their pockets and Adrian Newey is still as much a threat as any of the drivers. What a year and Alonso knows it!

      • Dave (@davea86) said on 11th June 2012, 15:00

        Plus it’s a double points finish for Ferrari and a roll of the strategic dice away from a podium. The fact that people are saying that’s a bad weekend for Ferrari means they’re moving in the right direction. Back in Australia if you’d offered them both cars in the points and being a pit stop off an easy P2 they’d have jumped at the opportunity, now that’s considered a disappointing race.

  9. Lothario said on 10th June 2012, 23:26

    Fantastic result :) All we need is for Michael, Kimi, Romain and Sergio to all win a race now, and my year is complete.. other than Hamilton or Alonso winning the championship.

  10. mantresx said on 10th June 2012, 23:27

    I’m not a Schumacher fan but I feel sorry for him, with all those technical problems I wouldn’t be surprised if he retired at the end of the year, if Mercedes continue like this then Sauber will jump ahead of them in the WCC just like Lotus did with Ferrari.

    • Lothario said on 10th June 2012, 23:32

      I put a bet on – well, my brother did for me. I ain’t old enough :P – for McLaren to be constructors champions, ahead of Red Bull and Mercedes. They are going to be costing me -.-

  11. Lothario said on 10th June 2012, 23:30

    Fantastic result :) All we need is for Michael, Kimi, Romain and Sergio to all win a race now, and my year is complete.. other than Hamilton or Alonso winning the championship. I personally prefer if Lewis won, but I’d like it if Fernando did despite my lack of respect for him, it would be perfect if he won after the troubles in the early races. Would prove that even terrible cars can be driven to wins and championships!

  12. pH (@ph) said on 10th June 2012, 23:37

    @Keith: small typo: Sergio Perez cam through

    I gathered from Ham-pit communication that was broadcasted that Hamilton was originally also on a one-stopper, but they changed their mind once Alonso started to reel him in (the two laps before Ham went for the second tyre change). If my impression is true, then I’d say that for once McLaren were thinking fast ont heir feet, unlike the other two teams. I do not quite understand why Red Bull and Ferrari did not emulate McLaren two laps later when the lap times were obvious, they would have made it to top 3 most likely. Either I am missing some crucial info or they screwed up badly.

  13. Josie Maunders (@jbmaunders) said on 10th June 2012, 23:38

    Can someone explain why Mercedes didn’t just change Schumacher’s rear wing? I thought I’d seen rear wing changes in the pits before…

    • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th June 2012, 23:46

      The DRS wing is operated by the Hydraulics… Schumi had a hydraulic issue which led to DRS not functioning … so, even if they changed the wing, it is of no use.

    • Dom (@3dom) said on 10th June 2012, 23:50

      I just thought it took ages, from memory of lewis’ rear wing change in Monaco last year. But may also be a complex change with them having the double DRS piping/channel going thru it

    • Dave (@davea86) said on 11th June 2012, 15:11

      As mentioned, it takes too long. Also once you’re more than a lap down there isn’t much point going out again. Better off saving the engine and gearbox although Schumacher hasn’t been putting much mileage on those this season…

  14. Young One said on 10th June 2012, 23:58

    Ferrari & RB were concentrating too much taking the lead from LH, they forgot the other threats only to loose podium positions..

  15. Eggry (@eggry) said on 11th June 2012, 0:10

    Ferrari strategy is too defensive or reactive rather than active. They eager to ‘stay longer’ or ‘pit later’. sometimes it worked(Monaco, at least one place.), sometimes didn’t(Spain, lose lead.). the first pit stop was good if not great, it wasn’t able to hold Hamilton but they got Vettel anyway but no reason to think tyre would last. even there was a clear evidence called Massa who pit much earlier and struggle with tyre wear. I wish they would ‘wake up’ with this race. Look Red Bull. They noticed they were wrong and corrected it immediately so got Alonso finally.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 11th June 2012, 5:02

      Had Alonso’s tyres held up, as Grosjean’s and Sergio’s did, then eh’d have been laughing his way onto the podium.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 11th June 2012, 7:39

      Gamble is part of the game. Ferrari knew that Lewis was faster and to beat him it should be through a different strategy but I think the one-stop was their decided too late because Alonso was not preserving his tyres long enough and they paid massively because only Hamilton and Vettel were on their mind and failed to cover both Grojean and Perez.

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