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Stat Wrap: Canadian Grand Prix

Model Winnie Harlow was told to wave the flag a lap early at the Canadian GP.

By Sean Kelly, C4F1 statistician

Daniel Ricciardo sensationally lost a fastest lap he felt certain was his, when an administrative foul-up with regards to the chequered flag saw the results taken two laps early, giving Max Verstappen the accolade instead.

This will probably be the most memorable incident of the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix, a race which won’t go down as a classic unless you’re a fan of Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel (or unless you’re ACTUALLY Sebastian Vettel).

Vettel’s dominance was effectively sewn during qualifying, as he stormed to what was astonishingly Ferrari’s first pole in Montreal since 2001. This raised hopes that they could finally end their barren streak at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – the team’s 12 races without a win at this venue were more than at any other venue on the calendar.

They delivered on that promise emphatically, and it should be noted that on every occasion Ferrari have won in Canada this century, they’ve always won both championships (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004).

Montreal was the second consecutive race led from start-to-finish by the polesitter, after Ricciardo achieved it in Monaco.  

Believe it or not, this has not previously happened in F1 during the turbo-hybrid era. The last instance came when Vettel himself did in at the 2013 Singapore and Korean GPs, in the midst of his record-equalling run of nine consecutive wins.

This was Vettel’s 50th race win of his illustrious career, joining a club consisting only of his fellow four-time champions Alain Prost (51) and Lewis Hamilton (64) along with seven-time title-holder Michael Schumacher (91).

In second place, 7.376s behind the dominant German, came Valtteri Bottas, for whom Montreal has consistently been among his best tracks when it comes to results.  

Bottas started third on this track back in 2013 when he mastered wet/dry conditions in a Williams that scored only five points that year.

He has since made good on that promise, with Sunday being Bottas’ fourth podium at this venue, more than any other racetrack. All he’s lacking here is a win, which runs parallel to his fortunes in 2018 generally – all four of his podium finishes in 2018 have been for second place.

Until Sunday, Max Verstappen had scored only one podium finish this season, although this second third-placing was perhaps a little disappointing for the Dutchman after he dominated practice, leading FP1, FP2 and FP3 just as his team-mate Ricciardo had done on his way to winning from pole in Monaco.

For a driver whose driving style has been compared to that of Gilles Villeneuve, his official Twitter feed noted an incredible coincidence this weekend. It was Verstappen’s 67th grand prix start and his 13th career podium finish, both tying the numbers scored by Villeneuve in his career, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve!

Verstappen also inherited the fastest lap as a result of the final two laps of the race being annulled, erasing Ricciardo’s numbers from the history books.

The fourth-placed Australian was extremely unlucky considering he had reset fastest lap on both lap 69 and lap 70, only for neither of them to count!  Nonetheless, Red Bull now have five of the seven fastest laps this season.

It’s not often that we get this far into a Stat Wrap without mentioning Lewis Hamilton’s contributions, but the Briton was uncharacteristically reduced to a bit-part role on Sunday, coming home fifth, over 21 seconds behind race winner Vettel, and 14 seconds behind his own team-mate Bottas.

Much of this deficit came as a result of only qualifying fourth, a situation then aggravated by engine issues and then being jumped by Ricciardo in the pit-stop sequence. Sunday was 11 years to the day since Hamilton claimed his first grand prix win at this very track, and since then he’d won six times in Montreal and only missed the front row once (2011).

Hence, this race was very out of character, but he did extend his points streak to 32 in a row.  He’s now only nine races short of the all-time record for consecutive finishes (points or no points) set by BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld from 2007-09.

Speaking of distant team-mates, Kimi Raikkonen was 27 seconds behind Vettel by the time the chequered flag was erroneously shown on lap 68. 

Given that the first four laps were behind the safety car, that gap works out as 0.421s per green-flag lap, but much of that could again by ascribed to Raikkonen not getting the most from qualifying – his 10 best laps of the race were only 0.150s slower than Vettel on average, showing what he was capable of doing in clearer air.

Raikkonen still hasn’t finished on the podium in Canada since 2006, and had he done so this weekend it would have been an F1 record for longest time between consecutive podium finishes at the same venue.

Meanwhile, in what some have started calling “Formula 1 Class B”, Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh, breaking a streak of three consecutive eighth-place finishes in Montreal.

This year eighth belonged to his Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz, his best finish in Canada, ahead of a relatively anonymous Esteban Ocon, in the points for Force India for the second consecutive race.

Charles Leclerc is having a far-from-anonymous rookie campaign, and on Sunday he reached new heights as the Monegasque became the first Sauber driver to reach Q2 in four consecutive races since Adrian Sutil in 2014. 

He then scored in the race for the third time in that period, with P10, and he now only has one less point than team-mate Marcus Ericsson has scored in his 83-race career!

Montreal was a landmark weekend for the McLaren team, for whom qualifying took place on the 50th anniversary of their first F1 victory (and Bruce McLaren’s only win in the car bearing his name, at Spa in 1968).  

It was also Fernando Alonso’s 300th race weekend, so it was a shame their actual performance was so dismal. Alonso lined up 14th on the grid, his worst start in Montreal since his rookie season with Minardi in 2001.

His retirement was less of a surprise, even given McLaren’s recent form of better reliability. This was the eighth time Spain’s double world champion was not running at the finish of a Canadian GP, more than at any other circuit in his F1 career.

Race day in Montreal had begun with 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve driving his father’s Ferrari 312T3, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Gilles’ victory in that car in the first Montreal F1 race in 1978, on the circuit that now bears his name.

Alas, that was the only positive for home fans on Sunday, as Lance Stroll became the first Canadian to ever retire from a Montreal F1 race on the opening lap.  

He and Sergey Sirotkin had started 17th and 18th, Williams’ worst two-car qualifying in the history of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The light at the end of the tunnel wouldn’t appear to be forthcoming in Grove right now.

As Vettel leaves Canada with a single-point championship lead, next up is the long-awaited return to Paul Ricard, ending a 10-year hiatus for the French Grand Prix and a 28-year absence for the Cote d’Azur track.  

Ferrari have won the previous three French GPs, and claimed their 100th F1 win in the last Paul Ricard race back in 1990.  Just saying...

Read more: Canadian Pit View - F1 so unpredictable this year! 

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