Reigning Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel checked another task off his to-do list over the weekend, roaring to his very first Canadian Grand Prix victory in Montreal. The German driver did it in commanding fashion, finishing over 14 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso, who claimed second after starting sixth on the grid. Lewis Hamilton finished in third.
Prior to the start, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ranked as just one of three current venues at which victory has eluded Vettel. Two years ago he suffered heartbreak after losing the lead to Jenson Button on the final lap.
But it was a different story in 2013, with Vettel leading from the moment the lights went out at the start of today’s race; there was little doubt he was going scratch this track off his list.
Starting from pole position, Vettel easily beat front row rival Lewis Hamilton into turn one. Three laps later, he had already built up a 3.2 second lead. By the time he ended his first stint on lap 17, the championship leader was over seven seconds clear of the field.
And the gap kept growing. By lap 30 it had stretched to 19 seconds and Vettel was cruising, perhaps even too comfortably. He brushed a wall and then on lap 52 he lost control at the first chicane and was forced to cut the corner before rejoining. Both times he escaped unharmed and he eventually drove through to the win.
“A great race,” Vettel reckoned afterwards. “I had a very good start, which was important, and then I was able to really go with the car. I was able to build a gap and then kept that gap through the race. A very important race for us to win. Finally we get it off the list. Very proud of that.”
The victory in Montreal now just leaves Vettel lacking wins at his home race in Germany and at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
For Alonso, the race was a more action-packed affair. After passing surprise third-placed qualifier Valtteri Bottas on lap one, Alonso set off after Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg. Both Webber and Alonso passed Rosberg to move up to third and fourth respectively, and there the race froze for Alonso until Webber was hit by backmarker Giedo van der Garde, damaging his front wing.
Scenting blood, Alonso closed in and eventually passed the Red Bull into turn one. That set up a titanic battle with Hamilton, who grimly defended for half a dozen laps. There was no resisting the threat though, and Alonso eventually forced his way past on lap 63.
Behind the top four, Nico Rosberg drove a subdued race to finish fifth for Mercedes. But if the German was feeling lonely on track, Jean-Eric Vergne was even lonelier. After claiming his best-ever starting position of seventh, Vergne passed Bottas for sixth on lap six, as the unfortunate Finn slipped further and further back from his start position. From then on, Vergne simply controlled the gaps to power to his best-ever finish and eight valuable points.
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