Formula One: Hamilton: Team are on target once more

Lewis Hamilton leading the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, en route to his sixth victory in 10 years at Montreal. His victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve cut Sebastian Vettel's world championship lead from 25 points to 12.
Lewis Hamilton leading the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, en route to his sixth victory in 10 years at Montreal. His victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve cut Sebastian Vettel's world championship lead from 25 points to 12.PHOTO: REUTERS

Optimal tyre use less of a problem now, says Briton, adding that other challenges still exist

MONTREAL • The goalposts may have moved in Formula One this season but, after a dominant one-two in Canada on Sunday, three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton feels Mercedes are back on target.

Hamilton cruised home 19.7 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas for their first one-two since the Finn joined in January as replacement for retired champion Nico Rosberg.

The Briton's 56th career victory was his sixth in Canada and third in a row, and he turned the tables on Ferrari with a peerless performance.

Hamilton qualified on pole, the 65th of his career to equal the tally of his late Brazilian boyhood idol Ayrton Senna, led from start to finish and also set the fastest lap.

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Coming two weeks after Monaco, where he had qualified badly and finished seventh as Ferrari enjoyed their first one-two since 2010, it was the perfect weekend.

"I think for us, we really solidified our strength, we've got a better understanding of the car and hope we can put it in the same spot in the following races," he told Sky Sports television.

"Also we know now, after the last race, where to develop this car moving forward, which I think is really going to make a difference in winning this championship."

But he warned that there was still much to do and it would take time.

"I don't think we've completely got rid of all the issues we have," he said. "We've understood the tyres, utilised the tyres a lot better this weekend, but I think there's still things we've understood but that you can't just fix in two weeks.

"So in terms of where we direct the development, the guys now in the factory have a much better goal. The goalposts have moved, but... now they can work full steam ahead towards that."

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion, finished fourth on Sunday - the first time this season that he has finished outside the top two. His lead over Hamilton was cut to 12 points with 13 races left.

The German and Hamilton now have three wins each this season, with Bottas taking the other.

Vettel had also qualified on the front row in Montreal but the expected battle between the two title contenders failed to materialise, with the German having to fight through the field after his car's front wing was broken on the opening lap. His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was seventh.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium.

"I only had fun when I saw the chequered flag," said the Australian. "I was defending the whole race."

There was no doubt relief for Lance Stroll as well during his home race. The 18-year-old Williams driver was born and raised in Montreal but will probably care more about the fact that he has scored his first points in Formula One than where he registered them.

He finished ninth, which he hopes will give him some breathing room from his critics.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Hamilton: Team are on target once more'. Print Edition | Subscribe