Lewis Hamilton waits in the garage before the Canadian Grand Prix
Good things come to those who wait. For Hamilton, that good thing came in the shape and form of a Grand Prix Gold Cup from the beautiful Sunday race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal. It was a much-needed boost for Hamilton's points in the Championship to stay competitive, a long time coming win for Hamilton to prove to the world that he still got it, and a respectable comeback for the McLaren Team from the many errors they've made in recent races.
The race started well enough with the usual suspects on the front rows - Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and Webber. Soon after the race started, we are treated with Webber and Rosberg fighting for 4th position with some great wheel to wheel action, and Massa driving like a man who has something to prove. Rumor has it that Ferrari is looking for a new driver to replace Massa, so Massa has a lot riding on his performance in coming races. I am also continuously impressed with Di Resta, he's been doing really well in qualifying and races given the car he has, with a little more time and a better car I could see Di Resta on the podium.
Noticeably missing in the front battles are Button and Raikkonen, they've both fallen off the radar in the last few races. It's definitely odd to see Button struggling so much while Hamilton is competitive from the same McLaren car. Can the car setup really make that much of a difference? Button went from 10th position 16th at the end of the race. With Raikkonen's Lotus, it's hard to decide whether it's car or strategy that ultimately ruins the Ice Man and his comeback, I'm inclined to think both are factors for the time being. Started at 12th spot on the grid, Raikkonen went up 8 positions to 4th and then fell back to 8th right. And yet, Grosjean, also with a Lotus car, went from 7th to 2nd. How long will we have to wait before we see the Ice Man smile a non-smile on the podium?
Nothing like a little pit-stop action to shake up the line up. Right around lap 17, Vettel pitted and then just missed by a hair coming out to have Hamilton over cut, and then Alonso did the same to Hamilton after Hamilton pitted. McLaren's pitstops continue to make me nervous, even though I think the mini-stall at the pitstop was Hamilton's own doing. No matter, Hamilton recovered from that little hiccup at pitstop and eventually passed Alonso in DRS zone in lap 20.
The person who didn't recover and basically had some of the worst luck of the season is Schumacher. Schumacher qualified 9th, but ended up with a faulty DRS wing and had to retire. The mechanics can't even fix it with their gloved-hands at the pit stop. Totally tragic to watch.
For a long while (30 laps!), Hamilton was leading the way with Alonso and Vettel behind. I thought, well, that's how the race would end. Wrong! Lap 50 came around, Hamilton pitted with another nerve-wrecking McLaren pit stop, and stuck to his 2-stop strategy. I was fully expecting Alonso and Vettel to pit since their tyres' been hustling and need some refreshing. A few more laps and neither pitted, it became clear that Alonso and Vettel were both trying to stick it with those tyres until the end of the race. Haven't they learned the lessons from Raikkonen a few races back? It's a ballsy strategy gamble from the teams, and one of these races it may actually work, but Ferrari and Red Bull got it all wrong for this race.
One teams' wrong call is another teams' gain though. Perez and Grosjean both made the 1-stop strategy work for them and started to climb up the positions at the late part of the race. Red Bull realized quickly by lap 60 that Hamilton is catching Vettel and Alonso fast and furious with fresh tyres and they are now defenseless. Red Bull did the only sensible thing a team can do - bringing in Vettel for new tyres at lap 64 in a 70-lap race. Red Bull is hugely lucky that the pit stop at Montreal is one of the shortest run and they were able to slot Vettel back in near the top. Alas, the damage is done and Vettel can only fight back to pass Alonso to take 4th at lap 69.
Meanwhile, Hamilton took his 1st Grand Prix win of this season with a spectacular drive, with Grosjean and Perez taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. The race was completely unpredictable from the beginning until the very end. Amazing!
In case anyone has any doubt on who should win the Best Post-race hair at Montreal, that special title goes to Perez. His hair didn't look like it's been compressed in a hot helmet for 70 laps at all! And as a Canadian, I'm mildly relieved to see the Montreal grid girls outfit. Short red dress (no weird cutout bits!) with white heels is boring but classy! European Grand Prix grid girls, I hope you bring it in the next race on 6/22-6/24 weekend!