A late charge from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was enough to win him the Canadian Grand Prix Sunday, extending an extraordinary run of seven different drivers winning the first seven races of 2012.
Hamilton leads the championship by two points from Fernando Alonso, who lost out heavily after his Ferrari team decided on a one-stop strategy.
“It feels great to finally be here on the top step. It feels like one of the best races I’ve had for a very long time,” said Hamilton, who leads the standings with 88 points.
Hamilton took risks and pushed as hard as he could on fresh tyres to take the lead from Alonso and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, whose plans to stop only once seemed to be vindicated when Hamilton’s second stop was marred by a delay in changing tyres.
“I assumed they were doing a one-stop so I decided to keep pushing,” Hamilton said.
Alonso’s worn tyres degraded heavily in the final laps, leaving him a sitting duck for Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, who charged past for second, and Sauber’s Sergio Perez, who took an unlikely third place after starting 15th on the grid.
“Suddenly I went past Fernando Alonso who was slowing, and I was second. It was a crazy race,” Grosjean said of his best-ever result in F1.
Mexican driver Perez extracted a modicum of revenge on Alonso after losing out to him for the win at the second race of the season in Malaysia.
Vettel’s Red Bull team abandoned their one-stop plans, and the German was able to recover enough time on the new rubber to take fourth place from Alonso at the death. Vettel is now third in the title race, three points behind Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg was sixth for Mercedes after battling with other cars for most of the race, followed home by Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber in seventh and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen in eighth.
Kamui Kobayashi ensured he too, like his teammate Perez, beat a Ferrari by taking ninth place ahead of Felipe Massa. The under-pressure Brazilian had a good start and was running fifth before he spun on lap five, ending his hopes of a good finish.
There were problems for two former champions as McLaren’s Jenson Button finished 16th after a torrid race in which he struggled for pace on the typically faster super-soft tyres and suffered the humiliation of being lapped by his teammate Hamilton.
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher was forced to retire at two-thirds distance after his speed-boosting DRS flap stuck open, making his car illegal and potentially dangerous.
Force India’s Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg finished 11th and 12th.