By using a two-stop sprint strategy, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton became the seventh winner from seven grands prix this year, overtaking Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in in the last eight laps to claim a spectacular victory by 2.5 seconds. Hamilton now leads the drivers’ championship by two points: the sixth change of championship lead in seven races.
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean finished in a career-best second place, having made a one-stop strategy work well. With Vettel pitting with just seven laps to go, and Alonso dropping back – even though he was on the same strategy as Grosjean, having pitted two laps earlier – Sauber’s Sergio Perez also used a one-stop strategy to claim his second podium of the year. The Mexican however adopted the opposite approach to Grosjean, who had started on the supersoft and then moved onto the soft. The top four were covered by just seven seconds at the finish, mirroring the closeness of the competition all year.
Hamilton, who started from second on the grid, crucially claimed the advantage over pole-sitter Vettel on lap 17 following his first pit stop – even though Red Bull had pitted Vettel from the lead a lap earlier.
However, Hamilton was passed in a similar way by Alonso, underlining the importance of pit stop strategy as the top three swapped positions. After he overtook the Ferrari driver, Hamilton made his final stop from the lead onto the soft tyre with 20 laps to go and emerged third: the prelude to a thrilling finale.
Conditions were much warmer for the race than they had been during free practice and qualifying, with track temperatures in excess of 40 degrees centigrade and 27 degrees ambient. This meant that teams started with limited information as to how the tyres might behave in the hotter temperatures, particularly as last year’s race was characterised by heavy rain.
As the race progressed, ambient and track temperatures remained consistent while fuel loads came down, adding another variable to the strategy calculations. Rarely for Canada, there were no safety cars, which also had an effect on the strategy – as these are normally factored in.
All the drivers started on the supersoft tyre apart from Jenson Button (McLaren), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Pedro de la Rosa (HRT). Raikkonen ran the supersoft tyre for the longest stint, 30 laps, while Alonso made his set of soft tyres last for 51 laps.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “With three World Champions starting from the top three grid positions, it was always going to be an entertaining race. Towards the end we saw Lewis Hamilton use the extra speed he gained from a two-stop strategy to overhaul his rivals. Particular congratulations as well to our former test driver Romain Grosjean, who was only 2.5 seconds behind at the end on a one-stop strategy, and it was another great drive from Sergio Perez, who once again demonstrated his perfect understanding of the tyres. The result is one of the youngest podiums we have seen in Formula One, which goes to show that the future of the sport is in safe hands. With warmer conditions and no safety cars, the degradation was maybe a little more than some people expected, which led to Alonso and Vettel’s tyres losing performance in the closing stages, after running very long stints. With several different strategies in play and the leaders catching each other at the end of the race, we couldn’t have hoped for a more thrilling finish.”