Formula One

Photo. BBC

A different finger for the seventh different winner

Exactly five years ago in Montreal, on June 10, 2007, a rookie driver, Lewis Hamilton, grabbed his first pole position and went on to score his first Formula 1 victory. On Sunday he won again for the first time this season to lead the world championship.

When the McLaren team started the season opener from the front row in Melbourne, and Jenson Button won the race with pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton third many expected the Woking team to challenge the Red Bull domination of the previous two seasons.

Since then both Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado have been to the top step of the podium. Surprisingly, it took round seven in Canada for Lewis Hamilton to break his duck for the season by the water at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Ile Notre Dame.

The now oft-referred “Pirelli Tyre Lottery” again came to play a crucial role in the closing stages of the race. Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel was running in second behind Fernando Alonso when Hamilton came out of the pits after his second stop on lap 50.

The Stevenage racer put in fast and frantic laps when he realized the front two runners will not be stopping for fresh tires, contrary to his team’s radio message earlier. He would pass Vettel on lap 62 of 70 to take second and the German wunderkind would soon make a very late pit stop for super-softs again; rejoining the race in fifth.

Alonso fate was sealed when Hamilton got within a second. His former teammate knew this was no Sergio Perez at Sepang, and was defenseless as Hamilton sailed past on lap 64.

Romain Grosjean raced past the Spaniard on lap 66. Another couple of laps later Perez bid “adios amigo” and demoted the Ferrari star from the podium.

Vettel passed Alonso on the penultimate lap to salvage fourth place and set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour of the circuit.

The top ten was completed by Nico Rosberg in sixth, followed by Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen, Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa collected the final point from his tenth place finish.

Jenson Button, dazed and confused, had another non-scoring weekend. It was here last year that he grabbed a dramatic last lap victory from Vettel.

Hamilton, who last won a race in Abu Dhabi last year, was quoted on the BBC website saying, “This for me feels like one of the best races I’ve had for a very long time.”

Standings

Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 World Champion now leads with 88 points. Couple of points behind in second place is two time champion Fernando Alonso. Defending back-to-back champion Sebastian Vettel completes the top three with 85 points.

Mark Webber, winner in Monaco, is fourth on 79 points. The Shanghai surprise winner Nico Rosberg is fifth with 67 points.

The Lotus pair are sixth and seventh. Kimi Raikkonen on 55 and Romain Grosjean on 53 points.

Jenson Button, winner of season opener in Australia, is eighth with 45 points followed by Mexican Sergio Perez on 37 points.

Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who took his first F1 victory in Spain, completes the top ten.

Red Bull leads the constructors’ standings with 164 points. McLaren, only other team apart from Red Bull, with more than one victory this season is second with 133 points.

Lotus team is third on 108 points, Ferrari fourth; 97 points and Mercedes GP fifth with 69 points.

The Formula 1 circus now moves to the streets of Valencia for the European Grand Prix on June 24.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and Tim Horton regards.