Lewis keeps on closing in
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 signicant moments where he locked up his fronts, too. At the end of the