Montreal GPR Race Recap: Vettel commands Canada, Alonso, Hamilton scrap over podium

Sebastian Vettel won the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix in a commanding fashion at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, leading to a number of unhappy F1B staffers in the F1B Staff Cup Championship. Despite entirely dry conditions, the race was surprisingly scrappy at times. Fernando Alonso moved through the field to finish second, including a good dice with Lewis Hamilton, who finished third, as well as Mark Webber, who ended up fourth. Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa provided a good bit of entertainment, continually seeming to be at odds with Adrian Sutil. The two finished eighth and tenth, respectively.

In a daring one-stop strategy, Paul di Resta turned his bad luck weekend back around to finish seventh. Jenson Button’s one stopper did not fare so well, leaving the Briton to finish behind teammate Sergio Perez and in twelfth position. Though Hamilton spent much of the race second, he was unable to maintain the position after losing contact with Vettel on the start. Nico Rosberg finished fifth, Jean-Eric Vergne sixth, and Kimi Raikkonen ninth.

Vettel (1:25.425) won pole in spite of the three rainy and slippery qualifying sessions on Saturday. Hamilton qualified second fastest, with Bottas the real young start of qualifying, hauling his Williams up to a much-deserved third fastest. Rosberg qualified to start alongside the Finn. Webber, Alonso, Vergne, Sutil, Hulkenberg, and Raikkonen completed the top ten starters.

Rain began a few minutes before Q1 began, adding to the already humid and damp track conditions. Though something of a dry line had remained in spite of the rain, none of the drivers completed an installation lap on their slicks. They all chose to switch to inters immediately after trying out the circuit. Most drivers managed to save their lock-ups and slides, with the final chicane a popular place to lose control.

Still, Massa stopped the action with just two minutes remaining in Q2 as he was the first to crash. That knocked him out and caused a mêlée at pit out amongst those drivers then in the relegation zone. Attempting to gain position, both Raikkonen and Ricciardo (as well as a number of other drivers) lined up outside the fast line to gain track position. They would each be given a two place grid penalty after qualifying for that infraction, dropping the drivers from ninth and tenth to tenth and eleventh for the race start.

Saturday was a bad day for Lotus, as Grosjean was knocked out in Q1. The Frenchman was nineteenth fastest, but a ten place grid penalty from Monaco put him last in the starting order. Button also had a terrible day, misjudging the time remaining after the red flag, unable to start a final fast lap attempt to jump out of the knockout zone before the checkered flag flew.

Di Resta, Alonso, and Webber were the fastest men in the three practices, two of which were damp. Despite the sometimes slippery conditions, only Maldonado crashed in the Friday morning practice. Button had gearbox issues that afternoon, while di Resta sat in the garage with fuel pick up issues. While the Saturday morning practice is typically a full hour, track repairs after a support session forced a shortened half hour practice. Button, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Rosberg, and Sutil were amongst the fastest five through the three practices.

Race Start:
Despite the rain soaked weekend, the sky was blue and fairly clear when the lights went out to start the seventy laps of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. As the lights went out, Vettel fot away leanly with Hamilton just behind. Weber pushed his way though on Bottas, though the Finn gave him a hard time. Alonso had moved up on the start, soon coming up behind the Williams. Alonso was on the indie though Turns 8 and 9, but Bottas fought back. Alonso went on the outside through the hairpin, tucked right back in behind and took the position on the straight. Just behind, Hulkenberg missed the final chicane. At the end of L1, Vettel led Hamilton by two seconds. Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber, Alonso, Bottas, Vergne, Sutil, Ricciardo, and Raikkonen rounded out the top ten.

Raikkonen had a bad start, bogging down and losing position to Ricciardo and dropping to tenth. Drivers seemed ready to settle in fairly quickly after the first couple of laps. Webber remained close behind Rosberg, the first man on track within the DRS activation requirement of the car ahead. At the front, Vettel looked gone, over four seconds ahead of Hamilton.

However, Sutil was not fairing so well, scrapping with multiple drivers. He spun across the kerb in front of a train of rivers attempting to pass Bottas directly after Vergne, but instead lost five positions. Life would continue to be difficult through the hairpin as Maldonado touched Sutil’s rear, chucking pieces off the Venezuelan’s front wing. Soon after, Massa took eleventh from Perez. Van der Garde pitted on L9, the first driver to do so. Meanwhile, di Resta’s woes continued with a DRS issue, forcing the Scot to manually engage the system. Sutil pitted on L10.

End L10:
Massa moved forward again on L10, pushing through on Hulkenberg through the final chicane. At the end of that lap, Vettel had a five and a half second lead on Hamilton, with Rosberg, Webber, Alonso, Vergne, Bottas, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, and Massa the top ten. Vettel had come very close to the wall, leaving a bit of rubber on the T4 wall. Massa looked for a way around Raikkonen into T1, but the Finn pushed hard and remained ahead despite fading rear tyres. The Finn was not deterred, looking for his own way around Ricciardo. He and the Australian went three wide with Massa, leaving room enough for Raikkonen to take eighth.

First Pit Stops Begin (L13):
Meanwhile, Force India informed Sutil that he had damage to his rear wing. The German pitted, though it was unclear on his pit entry if he intended to do so or was forced to. Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, and Maldonado all pitted on L13. Webber and vergne pitted on the next lap, even as Vettel had gapped Hamilton by seven and a half seconds. Perez also pitted on L14. Rosberg and Bottas pitted, with the former barely coming out ahead of Webber on another set of supersofts. The stewards announced at about that time that the Sutil/Maldonado incident at the hairpin was under investigation. Almost immediately thereafter the stewards assessed Maldonado a drive through penalty for causing that collision.

Vettel and Alonso pitted as L17 Began, both switching to the medium compound. Hamilton led, having not yet stopped, with Vettel staying ahead of Rosberg in third. The other Mercedes driver had already stopped. Massa pitted from fourteenth for supersofts, with Maldonado serving his penalty behind. Meanwhile, radio indicated that Bottas would need to complete twenty-five more laps on his current set of mediums. He was thirteenth.

Hamilton led Vettel by six seconds at the end of L18, having lost a second and a half on one lap to Vettel. Hamilton pitted on L20, dropping to second upon reentering the circuit ahead of his teammate. Vettel had regained his lead, with Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vergne, di Resta, Grosjean, and Button the top ten. The top five had pitted, with Raikkonen still on his first set of tyres. Vergne in seventh had pitted, but the rest of the top ten had not. Vettel had a nearly eleven seconds gap of safety back to Hamilton.

Gutierrez made his first stop on L21, even as Massa looked for any way around Sutil for eleventh. Meanwhile, Raikkonen received a message that his fuel consumption was higher than expected. He pitted soon after the radio transmission broadcast. It was a bad stop for Lotus, as the rear jack man released (including falling down) before the right rear was fully on Raikkonen’s car.

Meanwhile, Alonso had again caught up Webber in the scrap over fourth, even as the Australian was directly behind Rosberg. Massa was even scrappier than his teammate, as the Brazilian first caught up and passed Button, then had yet another look at Sutil’s Force India.

Webber had a good time in trying to pass Rosberg, but lost just enough aero with a whell on the grass to wiggle after failing. That had allowed Alonso to close directly behind Webber. They soon collected a bit of lapped traffic in a Caterham. In the pit lane, Button made his first stop on L28 with a 2.5s stop to rejoin in sixteenth.

The train for third continued to lap nose to tail while Vettel had a gap to Hamilton of nearly seventeen seconds. Webber looked for a way through again on the final chicane but the German kept position. Though Rosberg locked up a couple of times, Webber just could not get around. Alonso was directly behind, ready to collect whatever he could in the scuffle. Webber finally got through on Rosberg with DRS, and Alonso was still right behind. Alonso tucked back behind Rosberg until the next DRS zone, taking fourth in his own turn. Rosberg pitted immediately for his second stop and a set of mediums. He rejoined still in fifth. Radio transmissions indicated that Rosberg would attempt to keep from stopping a third time. Released from Rosberg, Webber soon set a race fast lap in pursuit of Hamilton.

Halfway (End L35):
Nearing halfway, Bottas moved through first on Raikkonen, then Vettel had his own way with the older Finn, lapping Raikkonen on L35. With the traffic, Vettel lost a bit of time to Hamilton, who was complaining of a DRS issue. The German still led Hamilton by nearly sixteen seconds, though. At halfway, Webber, Alonso, and Rosberg completed the top five. Vergne, di Resta, Grosjean, Sutil, and Massa completed the top ten while Perez, Bottas, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Button, Gutierrez, Maldonado, Bianchi, Chilton, Pic, and van der Gardge completed the full running order.

Though Alonso seemed to have stepped back from Webber for a lap, he soon posted a race fast lap and caught up to Webber. The Australian suffered a collision with Caterham’s van der Garde, who came back over on Webber as he went to pass him though the hairpin under blue flags. The incident damaged Webber’s front wing. Van der Garde had just rejoined after his second stop. The stewards soon investigated the incident. They penalized van der Garde with a ten second stop-go penalty for ignoring blue flags and causing a collision.

Second Pit Stops Begin (L38):
Pic and Sutil stopped on L38. Chilton pitted the next time ‘round, as did Ricciardo. Bottas pitted on L42, as Webber locked up into the hairpin and went a bit wide. Alonso looked underneath but could not make the move. Alonso tucked under in the first DRS zone, but finally made the move stick with a decisive flourish into T1. Ferrari was busy, as Massa pitted for mediums from eighth on L43. Alonso quickly pulled out a second gap on Webber, with nearly eight seconds to go to catch Hamilton.

Grosjean pitted from eighth on L43, while Bianchi made his first stop of the race on that lap. Perez pitted on the next lap even as his teammate continued to lose time to Alonso. Still, di Resta continued to lap in seventh. He had yet to make a single pit stop.

Webber pitted as L46 began. He remained in fourth ahead of Rosberg, though had to flash by van der Garde. Alonso pitted from third on the next lap, just as yellows began waving for van der Garde’s dislodged front wing. He stopped on track, as did Hulkenberg, who had provided the initial push to wiggle the wing in the final chicane. Hulkenberg had suffered what appeared to be rear tyre damage. The stewards would investigate that incident after the race. Hamilton also pitted on the next lap, with Vettel making his second stop at the start of L49.

The marshals quickly cleared the cars, though Vettel was not so lucky. He had a moment in the first chicane, going across the grass. He continued without losing more than a few seconds to Hamilton. Alonso, though, continued to gain time on Hamilton.

15 Laps Remaining:
Grosjean pitted for his second time on L55. Alonso looked ready to pounce on Hamilton with fifteen to go, while Webber had been told that he could catch Hamilton by race end. Hamilton came up behind Massa, who might have held up the Briton for his teammate, but Hamilton swept through on the Brazilian sitting in tenth. Vettel had a sixteen second lead on Hamilton, with Alonso, Webber, Rosberg, Vergne, di Resta, Sutil, Raikkonen, and Massa the top ten. Di Resta still had not stopped.

Alonso was less than two seconds behind Hamilton, with Webber another seven behind, fully safe with more than twenty-one seconds cushion to Rosberg. Alonso continued to push, and push hard, dropping a half second off the gap to Hamilton in the closing stages of the seventy lap race. Di Resta finally pitted on L58, with a clean stop in his Force India for the supersofts. He remained in seventh on rejoining. Rosberg pitted from fifth for the third time on the next lap, then Vergne did so on his next lap.

Radio transmissions between Red Bull and Vettel had become strained, with the race engineer asking the race driver if he were listening. With a standing sixteen second lead, he appeared quite safe, especially with Alonso a second behind second place Hamilton and a scrap about to ensue.

10 Laps Remaining:
Hamilton and Alonso were directly behind Sutil through a DRS zone, one in which Hamilton’s DRS machinery seemed perfectly working. Alonso had ten laps to pass the Briton, having hunted him fully down. Lewis requested that the team “just let me drive, man.” Meanwhile, Sutil came under investigation for ignoring blue flags, then received a drive through penalty for doing so. Back to Hamilton’s radio, the Mercedes driver asked how many laps were left. Alonso was very close to making the pass down to the hairpin, forced around the outside. They were very close during the DRS zone, only for Alonso to make the pass in the next one. Alonso looked to have come back over early to send a message, but instead just grazed Hamilton whilst taking second.

Hamilton did not seem to be ready to immediately fight back, but there were still six laps remaining. Vettel had more than twenty seconds on Alonso, who came under attack from Hamilton though the DRS zone. He did not pass, though they made contact again.

Gutierrez was the third driver out of the race with just over three laps to go, sliding into the tyre barrier at pit out, having just made his second stop. Race Control disabled DRS as the marshals worked to clear his Sauber. He hopped out and stalked away.

At the front, Vettel loosened his grip on the lead, dropping the gap back to Alonso to seventeen seconds. Hamilton and Webber looked safe enough in third and fourth. Meanwhile, Massa finally got around Raikkonen for eighth on the final lap.

Final Positions, 2013 Canadian Grand Prix:

1. Sebastian VettelRed Bull 2
2. Fernando AlonsoFerrari14.42
3. Lewis HamiltonMercedes15.92
4. Mark WebberRed Bull25.72
5. Nico RosbergMercedes69.73
6. Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1 Lap2
7. Paul di RestaForce India1 Lap1
8. Felipe MassaFerrari1 Lap2
9. Kimi RaikkonenLotus1 Lap1
10. Adrian SutilForce India1 Lap3
11. Sergio PerezMcLaren1 Lap2
12. Jenson ButtonMcLaren1 Lap1
13. Romain GrosjeanLotus1 Lap2
14. Valtteri BottasWilliams1 Lap2
15. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso2 Laps2
16. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams2 Laps3
17. Jules BianchiMarussia2 Laps1
18. Charles PicCaterham3 Laps2
19. Max ChiltonMarussia3 Laps1
 Esteban GutierrezSauber7 Laps2
 Nico HulkenbergSauber25 Laps2
 Giedo van der GardeCaterham27 Laps4
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