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

  1. Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 11th June 2012, 18:07

    I’m quite surprised nobody insist on the 49 laps run from Grosjean and some mention the nice conservation from Perez … Surely they were not on the same compound (soft – SS for Gros and SS – soft for Perez) but still impressed how well Grosjean have manage that one on a Lotus which doesn’t always run nicely on both spec …

  2. Mikef117 said on 11th June 2012, 18:25

    I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but I’m surprised no one else has commented on Rosberg being told to conserve fuel in about the 8th lap.

    How can a driver go all out if his team don’t give him enough fuel to finish the race without turning it into a fuel conservation exercise after only 8 laps?? It seemed to suggest Mercedes banked on a safety car early and when it didn’t come their whole race was compromised.

    I could also suggest that quali is also becoming a bit of a bore as no one can short fill their car for a better grid position and barring a problem it is the usual suspects in q2 and 3. Think back a couple of seasons when we eagerly awaited the fuel figures before debating strategy. For me, either the tanks must be brimnmed and sdealed after qualui or re-fuelling should be allowed again.

    As for Jenson, I think his driving style means he just cannot get the tyres into their best operating range unless it is a hot day/hot track.

  3. Knightmare (@knightmare) said on 11th June 2012, 20:47

    Ban the DRS (or at least ban the one move rules in DRS zone), it makes the driver in front a sitting duck (all thanks to the Pirelli tyres, if you push harder on these tyres to keep 1 sec gap, you loose overall advantage in race). Its sad to see that Formula 1 has turned into a tyre conservation drive (you hear on the team radio all the time ‘preserve tyres’, ‘don’t push hard’).

    All due credit to Hamilton (he drove superbly), but overtaking is not real anymore, drivers don’t push themselves and their cars to limit and its all about tyre strategy ‘rubber-and-run’

  4. kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 11th June 2012, 21:15

    McLaren almost lost it for Lewis again with a 5.5 sec pit stop. As usual, they depended on his race pace to salvage their ineptitude. This just happened to be their day. You could see how the pitstop lost him track position to Alonso before he took took it back. On another day, another track, he may not have been able to get past Alonso or Vettel.
    Why cant they just get it right? Despite just implementing a system that Ferrari have been using for over a season? Why did it take them so long? these questions have to be asked. According to Jonathan Neale, we were supposed to see a “substantial” improvement in McLaren’s pit stops! The problem is indeed Whitmarsh’s leadership style. He simply too “nice” for the cutthroat world of F1, and does not posses competitive bone in his body when compared to denizens like Briatore, Willaims, Brawn and even Horner.

    Anyone noticed how Ron Dennis seems to be Lewis’s lucky talisman? More often than not, when he is present, Lewis seems to do well, and seems to benefit from McLaren thinking quickly on their feet regarding strategy. It seems Whitmarsh sharpens up, and indeed the whole team (at least regarding Lewis) when Ron is present.
    When Ron is absent, the strategic thinking seems to go in Jenson’s direction with Lewis left to battle it out on race pace, as happened many times last season.

    I am surprised by people who seem befuddled by Jenson’s race pace, or indeed his qualifying. He has had many a day like these – even in his championship winning year. As been mentioned many times before, his preformance window is extremely narrow, and his results at at McLaren has been flattered by favourable and quick thinking startegy courtesy of Martin Whitmarsh, rather than outright pace. Even at Mercedes, he was flattered by the car, as was obvious in the second half of the season. Whilst he is good driver, he is certainly not in the mould of Lewis – even when Lewis has his off days.

    Again, there is a lot of talk about Lewis driving well this year. I don’t agree withn that. He has always driven well. He is simply driving different this year. Most of his audacious moves which resulted in a mixture of penalties, tears and reprimands, were also the same moves which won McLaren a championship and gave Lewis the title of bests late braker and overtaker in Formula 1. It led Norbert Haug and Ross Brawn to christen him the saviour of F1, when the Formula was beign criticised for the inability of drivers to overtake, and Lewis had the most overtakes in that season. When these moves come off well, everyone gushes and praises him, when they dont, the whole world flagellates him, and the stewards crucify him; Thus this year, gone are the bold overtakes, the audacious late braking, the wheel to wheel duels. Instead we have a more careful, cautious Lewis. The tyres havent helped in this regard, as they do not favour an aggresive driving style. I say its a shame, because F1 has been robbed of one of its most exciting driver.

  5. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 13th June 2012, 17:55

    Has no one noticed that each race has also had a different driver finish in 2nd place?

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