Lewis keeps on clos­ing in

F1 Racing - - FINISHING STRAIGHT -

Ros­berg is an­gered by first-cor­ner con­tact with Hamil­ton, and a late-race spin, as his lead is eroded

Lewis Hamil­ton punched a hole in Nico Ros­berg’s cham­pi­onship lead with a com­fort­able vic­tory at the Cana­dian Grand Prix. Just two races ago the gap to his Mercedes team-mate was 43 points, but as the pair pre­pared to jet across the At­lantic to con­tinue their duel in the un­charted ter­ri­tory of Azer­bai­jan, the dif­fer­ence be­tween them was a mere nine points. Fol­low­ing his bril­liant win in Monaco at the end of May, Hamil­ton’s sec­ond vic­tory this year had closed the gap to Ros­berg, pri­mar­ily be­cause his team­mate could man­age only fth at an un­usu­ally cold and sub­dued Cir­cuit Gilles Vil­leneuve. It was a sucker punch of which Hamil­ton’s hero, Muham­mad Ali, would have been proud.

The skies were gloomy on Sun­day. Yet de­spite the odd spot of driz­zle, the rains never came. If they had, we might have ex­pe­ri­enced a more chaotic race than the one that panned out.

As had been proved in qual­i­fy­ing, the Fer­rari of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel was the great­est threat to the Mercedes this week­end and what Vet­tel needed was a good start. That’s ex­actly what he got, eas­ily pass­ing a slow-off-the-line Lewis well ahead of the brak­ing zone for Turn 1. Ros­berg also cap­i­talised, but found him­self on the out­side of the cor­ner as he ran wheel-to-wheel with his team-mate. The slight­est kiss of front wheels, with Nico on the out­side, was enough for the num­ber six Mercedes to turn away from the cor­ner and veer into the Tar­mac run-off, be­fore cut­ting across the grass and pulling back onto the track at the exit of Turn 2.

The con­tact left Ros­berg fum­ing and he fell to tenth place at the end of the rst lap. From there on, it was dam­age lim­i­ta­tion.

“Se­bas­tian had a great start and I had a de­cent one, and Lewis had a re­ally bad one and my po­si­tion was on the out­side,” said Ros­berg. “In Barcelona, I gave it a go around the out­side of Lewis and it worked out re­ally well. I went for the same to­day and he did a re­ally hard rac­ing ma­noeu­vre and we touched and I was off. I was very pissed off in that mo­ment, but that’s rac­ing and it’s my job to make sure I’m in front after a bat­tle like that next time.”

Hamil­ton blamed a lack of front-end grip in the left-han­der for the in­ci­dent. “I got to Turn 1 and had un­der­steer. It was very close with me and Nico but it was not in­ten­tional,” he said.

As Ros­berg gath­ered him­self back onto the track, he held up Ric­cia­rdo’s Red Bull and that al­lowed Ver­stap­pen to pass his team-mate. After such a promis­ing run in the last two races, it was the start of what turned out to be a dis­ap­point­ing af­ter­noon for Ric­cia­rdo. The out­come of the race was de­ter­mined by which cars were able to pre­serve their Pirellis the best and un­for­tu­nately for Ric­cia­rdo, the Red Bulls were prone to degra­da­tion. To com­pound the prob­lem, he badly locked up and at-spot­ted a set of his tyres that forced an un­nec­es­sary stop and he fell down the or­der, ul­ti­mately nish­ing sev­enth at the ag.

Up front, Vet­tel sprinted into an early lead – de­spite a cou­ple of signicant mo­ments where he locked up his fronts, too. At the end of the

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