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Lewis Hamilton holds off Nico Rosberg to win Canadian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton will already have counted the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as a happy hunting ground, but it has been confirmed with his latest win here in a dominant run from pole to flag. He now has four victories in Canada – one more than his number of retirements – but, more importantly, he has reasserted his dominant position in the championship after the disappointment of losing the win to a poor strategy call at the previous race in Monaco.

Having taken pole he dutifully took the lead into the first corner and, with the exception of a single lap during which he made a pit stop, did not relinquish it for the rest of the race. He now leads his team-mate Nico Rosberg by 17 points in the title race and has ended the German’s brief bid to come back at him in emphatic fashion with his fourth win of the season, his first since Bahrain, all of which have come from pole position.

“I love Montreal,” he said. “I love the track, I love the city. A fantastic weekend, it’s great to get back on the top step.”

He had not, however, enjoyed the perfect setup but it had not affected his performance, nor his confidence. “I didn’t feel happy or the most comfortable. I generally had a lot of understeer but I never really felt too much under pressure. Nico was quick but I felt like I always had it under control, I had a bit of time in my pocket to be able to pull it out when I needed it,” he said.

The team, too, were pleased to have put Monaco behind them with a one-two.

The Mercedes head, Toto Wolff, said: “We were exposed to massive criticism, it looked like all the victories and the world championship was forgotten and suddenly a bunch of idiots were managing the team. The result is a satisfying result considering what happened in Monaco and after Monaco.”

Hamilton, always strong in braking, made the most of a circuit where five of the seven braking zones are heavy on the anchors to maintain a lead that fluctuated between one and three seconds throughout and bore remarkable similarity to the control he had in Monaco before the poor pit call. Both drivers stopped only once, Hamilton to take on the soft tyres on lap 30 and Rosberg the same a lap later, but what slim chance he had of making the undercut were gone when he went wide at the hairpin on his in-lap.

As the race progressed Rosberg was warned that his brakes were overheating and Hamilton that he had to lift and coast to conserve fuel, but ultimately neither had an effect on the outcome. “Brake wear now critical, manage it for 10 laps before you attack Lewis,” Rosberg was told over the team radio, but although he managed the situation by dropping out of the dirty air behind Hamilton’s car, the attack did not materialise. With metronomic efficiency, every time Rosberg closed to within 1.1 or 1.2 seconds of his team-mate, Hamilton would extend the gap again the following lap.

His problem seems to be that he can get close to Hamilton but only enough to upset his car’s balance rather than pass. “It was a good race,” he said. “I was pushing like mad to try and put the pressure on but he didn’t make any mistakes.” He added: “It was just that tiny bit I lost out qualifying in the end, because the race pace was there and just that qualifying position makes that big difference.”

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Valtteri Bottas took Williams’ first podium of the season with a very solid run to third place although it should be noted that, while talk persists of teams catching Mercedes, he was a full 33 seconds behind Rosberg. Taking advantage of Kimi Raikkonen spinning on cold tyres at the hairpin and passing him through the pit stop on lap 29, Bottas hammered it to the finish and although Raikkonen attempted to come back he could not make the ground on the Mercedes-powered car.

Power issues of the other kind beset McLaren, however, as their season lurches from bad to worse. Despite showing a united front up until now, behind the power and reliability of their new Honda engine the cracks were beginning to show.

Told that he would have to watch his fuel consumption, Fernando Alonso replied: “Already I have big problems now. Driving with this … looking like an amateur. So I race and then I concentrate on the fuel.” Which promptly went from bad to worse for the Spaniard as he suffered a terminal lack of power and retired on lap 47.

His team-mate Jenson Button fared little better. Having started at the back after not setting a time in qualifying due to an ERS failure, he had a further setback with a drive-through penalty that he took at the end of the first lap for replacing the turbo and the MGU-H for the fifth time. Then, to add insult to injury, he was lapped by Hamilton on lap 23, before he too had to retire on lap 58.

In a race that usually throws up considerable incident this was, to an extent, a tame affair but there was plenty to watch. Sebastian Vettel’s charge through the pack from his grid position of 18th was a fine drive, particularly when vying with Alonso, who was in no mood to make things easy.

Equally Felipe Massa, who started in 15th and began the race on the soft tyre, went through the field with aplomb, including coming perilously close to the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz. He switched to the supersofts on lap 38 and made it to the end to take sixth place.

But it had been Mercedes’ day, the first time the marque has won in Canada and the perfect riposte to the debacle in Monaco. “Did I need this?” said Hamilton. “I think so. The team did an amazing job, I am proud to be up here.”

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