McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won a tense and tactical Canadian Grand Prix, making it seven winners from seven races in 2012.
Hamilton took an unshakeable grip on this race after the first round of pitstops. Sebastian Vettel had been leading for Red Bull Racing but he was jumped by both Hamilton and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari who went a few laps further. Those front three, Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel pulled away from the field and were having a race all on their own.
Hamilton came in first for his second stop, having comfortably held a lead of between three and four seconds over Alonso throughout the stint. And then a shock: neither Alonso or Vettel were stopping. Hamilton set about furiously making up a deficit of around 15 seconds in the 20 laps remaining. His pace was remorseless. He caught and passed Vettel on lap 62, and Alonso on 64 and then cruised to victory.
But behind Hamilton, both Alonso and Vettel began to struggle badly with their tyres. Vettel elected to make a late stop, on lap 63, while Alonso stayed out. The Ferrari was losing huge chunks of time and, Alonso’s gamble failed when Vettel made up his 20 second deficit to sweep past on lap 69 of the 70.
But Alonso had himself had already been passed by Romain Grosjean and Sergio Pérez, both of whom had ran more balanced one-stop races. Despite Vettel setting the fastest lap of the race on his final tour, he couldn’t get back up to the podium.
Hamilton crossed the line 2.5 seconds ahead of Grosjean’s Lotus, with the Sauber of Pérez following in third. Vettel was fourth and Alonso fifth. Nico Rosberg finished sixth for Mercedes, ahead of Mark Webber in the second Red Bull, Kimi Räikkönen was eight in the second Lotus, and Kamui Kobayashi in the second Sauber. Felipe Massa scored the final point for Ferrari.
The result bounces Hamilton to the top of the Drivers’ Championship on 88 points, two ahead of Alonso and three in front of Vettel. With Jenson Button enduring a torrid afternoon and finishing down in 16th, Red Bull Racing limited the damage in the Constructors’ Championship and retained their lead over McLaren 164-133.
“It’s still sinking in,” said Lewis afterwards. “It’s been five years since I won the first time here but this feels just as good. It feels great to be back here on the top step, it’s been a long time.