This year's Formula 1 World Championship just got a little hotter after Lewis Hamilton took the win for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team at the Canadian Grand Prix. This is Lewis' first win of the season, making him the seventh different winner so far; an unprecedented situation in Formula 1.
Sunday's race was a stark contrast to the previous years where rain delays added a whole new meaning to the word patience. The bright sun and clear skies made the race a hot one, 109° F (43° C) on the track, a 20°+ jump over the qualifying conditions. The heat took it's toll on the teams, forcing them to jump quickly from the two different choices of tires to maximize their longevity. The race had a great start with no major collisions on the tight "Senna S" turn in the first few seconds and maintained collision free for a majority of the race.
Vettel lead from pole position and developed a large gap over Hamilton and Alonso, signaling his path to secure the race win with a quick first stint overall. Vettel wore out quickly though, and was forced to pit first out of the front runners, costing him the lead to Hamilton and Alonso.
The tire strategy of McLaren helped edge Hamilton to the lead with a two stop strategy that gave him the right amount of rubber to keep him going to the end. With Alonso and Vettel struggling to keep the pace of Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Roman Grosjean edged past and climbed to the top and made it to the podium.
This was Grosjean's third podium of the season and Perez's second, adding excitement as the two young drivers are making their mark on the sport. Hailing from Mexico, Sergio is gaining a large following in the Americas and quickly becoming a star. The Sauber F1 Team driver has named Circuit of The Americas in Austin his home track, and though an American has yet to re-enter the sport, all eyes are on Perez as he will be the home crowd favorite in Austin.
Following the race, Sergio had this to say about his third place finish:
To be honest, starting 15th the last thing you think about is to end up on the podium. We went quite aggressive, the first stint was quite good, the stop very good, and the second stint very, very good.
Though Ferrari and Red Bull failed to put their drivers on the podium, speculations are that the title race will narrow and turn into a three man competition as the teams get in their groove and things start to settle. Who those three drivers are is largely still speculation but so far, McLaren is the only team to put both drivers in first position. However, Jensen Button's 16th place finish in Monaco and Canada has many wondering why there is so much contrast between him and his teammate Hamilton, not to mention his ninth position in the drivers championship points puts him well behind his teamate in first place.
Mark Webber's win in Monaco and Vettel's pole position on Saturday made it look like the Red Bull team was back and ready to regain their dominance. However Sunday's race was likely a big disappointment as both Vettel and Webber were unable to stay at the top and secure a podium finish. Ferrari was also suffering as Alonso was unable to fight off Grosjean and Perez, and Felipe Massa's spinout early in the race cost him any chance of returning to the top.
We're now a third of the way through the Formula 1 season and it's still hard to make serious predictions about the championship. Like I suggested a while ago, the inaugural F1USGP in Austin may play host to that championship decision, adding to the excitement and grabbing even more attention around the world. All I know is that I'm looking forward to the next race as we will hopefully get another new winner for the season; who might that driver be? Your guess is as good as mine.