2013 Canadian GP: Sebastian Vettel crushes rivals to end Red Bull's Montreal hoodoo
But Alonso limits damage after winning late Hamilton duel
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 09/06/13 11:58pm
While the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve may have a long history of producing chaotic, unpredictable races, the 2013 version was anything but at the very sharp end of the field as Vettel coverted his pole into the race lead and simply romped away into the distance, lapping all but the top five in the process over the course of the 70 laps.
"It wasn't that bad for us I think!" said the World Champion, with obvious understatement after a race in which his only scares were a brief brush with the wall and a grassy off-course moment at turn one.
"I had a very good start which was important and then I was really able to go with the car. I was able to build a gap [in the first stint] and basically kept that gap through the race. At some stages we had a full pitstop in hand and obviously it's a little bit easier then to control the race.
"All in all a very important race for us to win, finally we got it off the list, and very proud of that."
The peerless victory, his third of the season and 29th of his career, sees Vettel return to Europe well on course for a fourth successive drivers' title but serial rival Fernando Alonso at least managed to limit the damage with a typically stirring drive that saw him surge from sixth to second, passing Lewis Hamilton late on.
Hamilton had quite comfortably held his second-place grid position until the final ten laps of the race but, after passing the other Red Bull of Mark Webber, Alonso relentlessly chased the Mercedes down after the final stops.
Having tagged himself onto back of the his former team-mate with ten laps to go, Alonso made his move with the aid of DRS at the start of lap 63 - although Hamilton didn't give up the fight easily, briefly touching wheels with the Ferrari as it swept past.
Indeed on the very next lap, after a small mistake from Alonso coming out of turn nine, Hamilton got a run on the Ferrari down the backstraight and touched the rear of it under braking, snapping off a small part of his own frontwing.
While Alonso comfortably secured the runner-up position thereafter, Hamilton at least could be content to return to the podium for the first time since China and get his maiden Mercedes season back on a positive track after three successive disappointing race results.
"Some small part of my wing came off, but it was very close, he was very fair and I hope that we can get a bit quicker in the next race," Hamilton said.
"The car's getting better and the guys are doing a fantastic job so we just need to keep pushing to close the gap to these guys."
Nonetheless, any secret hopes the 2008 World Champion had of challenging for the title again this year are fast fading given he's now 55 points adrift of the runaway Vettel. Indeed, the German's overall lead is up to 36 from Alonso, who leaprogged Kimi Raikkonen after the Finn's miserable weekend ended up in a lowly ninth place.
The result meant the Finn equalled Michael Schumacher's ten-year-old record for 24-consecutive points finishes but that small piece of history will be scant consolation for both team and driver over the upcoming three-week break given he also only scraped into the points last time out in Monaco.
After being passed by Alonso in the second stint, Webber faded to fourth in the closing stint, although did end up with the race's fastest lap, having earlier damaged his frontwing in a tangle with the lapped Caterham of Giedo van der Garde, which earned the Dutchman a stop/go penalty.
Two weeks on from his own supreme race victory, Nico Rosberg just escaped being lapped by the flying Vettel after being forced to make three pitstops amid more severe degradation than Hamilton.
Elsewhere, however, there were some standout performances. After five eight-place finishes, Jean-Eric Vergne finally achieved a better finish after an impressive drive to sixth place, capping the most impressive weekend of his nascent career so far.
Somewhat against the odds given his lowly grid position, Paul di Resta gave a masterclass in tyre management and controlled, consistent pace to take his one-stopping Force India all the way to seventh place.
With Felipe Massa recovering to eighth after his Q2 crash, and Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil rounding out the points finishers despite a drive-through penalty for the latter for holding up Hamilton, McLaren's underwhelming season hit a new, depressing low as for the first time since the 2009 Abu Dhabi GP neither of their cars finished in the points.
Just twelve months on from their third straight victory in Canada, Jenson Button languishes tenth in the Drivers' Championship with the team sixth and 14 points adrift of Force India in the Constructors'.
Right at the very top though some things never change...