Incongruous, is the word. We all know the things we have grown to expect from Canadian Grands Prix in Montreal – all to do with drama – and not many of them arrived this time. Well, much that was expected didn’t arrive with one main exception. That Lewis Hamilton was the victor. It was his fourth triumph ever at this happiest of hunting grounds for him, and one that extends his championship lead.
Lewis in command
Several things came together to ensure unusually tepid fare this time. Indeed some were familiar even to this circuit, in that it is one tough on fuel and brakes. And for the first time anyone could remember there was no safety car appearance, making the fuel at least yet more marginal. Perhaps the sport’s current regulations exacerbate these too.
Both Mercedes drivers had to manage these (as did just about everyone else), and it transpired that Nico Rosberg had particular problems with his brake temperatures for a time. But the factor that perhaps more than any other ensured the apparently calm afternoon was that the Mercedes pair disappeared rapidly into a race of their own.
The two, with Lewis ahead and Nico chasing, never were too far apart throughout, but Lewis spoke afterwards that he had the whole thing under his spell, and given everything was content to manage the gap to Nico behind and respond to whatever his team mate did. And that’s indeed how it looked. The gap hovered at just over a second (just outside of DRS range, in other words) for much of the way. Lewis was cruising; in control.
Challenge doesn’t materialise
For a time at mid-race though it looked like it could be Nico’s day after all. The gap between the two in silver peaked at 4.5 seconds on lap 24 but Nico reduced it to just 1.1 within ten laps. Some thought that, as in Saturday morning practice, Lewis could be impeded, perhaps definitively, by a flat-spotted tyre after locking it. But no, he revealed afterwards that he’d simply been saving fuel at that point. And outside of this part, the result looked in little doubt. The Mercs were allowed to take off the shackles for the final ten laps but Nico then was unable to eat into Lewis’ lead.
Ferrari’s anticipated challenge never materialised either. It turned up with an improved engine and while it helped it wasn’t enough to get it near the Mercs. It can point to mitigating circumstances – Sebastian Vettel started way down in eighteenth for various reasons while Kimi Raikkonen had a mid-race spin – but none at the team were denying afterwards that Mercedes remains well ahead.
Indeed the Scuderia was beaten to third place this time by Williams and Valtteri Bottas, whose drive was rightly described as flawless by the team’s Rob Smedley. Bottas also is hopeful that the team can have a similar upturn as was the case 12 months ago.
But if at the front at least things were sedate more happened behind, with Felipe Massa joining Vettel in undertaking a fine drive through the field.
Lewis Hamilton’s drive was equally fine, just in a less spectacular way.