Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished second on the road but was contentiously awarded the win at Sunday’s Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was hit with a time penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner.
The key moment of the race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal occurred on lap 48 when race leader Vettel lost control at turn eight and took to the grass, almost pushing second-placed Hamilton into the opposite wall as he struggled for grip rejoining the circuit.
Despite the German’s protestations, race stewards took a dim view of his actions and imposed a five second penalty on Vettel, effectively meaning Hamilton now had no need to try to overtake in order to win the race.
“They are stealing the race from us. This is not fair,” complained Vettel over team radio. The German had controlled the race from pole position up to that point, and was looking good for his and Ferrari’s first win since last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The drama continued after the race had ended, with Vettel skipping the initial media interviews to remonstrate with stewards, before seemingly having to be persuaded to attend the podium ceremony. The German also pointedly removed the “1” marker board from in front of Hamilton’s parked car and replaced it with a “2”.
For his part, Hamilton’s celebrations were muted as he acknowledged the unusual circumstances surrounding his fifth victory in seven races this season. “That’s not the way I wanted to win. I forced him into an error and he went wide and we nearly collided. It’s unfortunate, but that’s racing.”
Vettel’s penalty meant he narrowly avoided losing another position to teammate Charles Leclerc, who took third place. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished a distant fourth after a difficult weekend, though the Finn did manage to claim a bonus point for setting the race fastest lap.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took fifth after starting 11th following bad luck in qualifying, with the two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finishing sixth and seventh for their best race of the season so far.
Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly had a lonely run to eighth, while the Racing Point of local hero Lance Stroll finished an impressive ninth ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, who rounded out the points paying positions.
Hamilton’s win sees him extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 162 points, ahead of Bottas on 133 and Vettel with 100. In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes are way out in front with 295 points, with Ferrari a distant second on 172, ahead of Red Bull with 124 points.
Round eight of the 2019 Formula 1 season takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France on June 23.