For a moment, Lewis Hamilton may have felt that tried-and-true joy of driving again; the feeling that can overcome you when overtaking the fastest. Who knows, maybe even at that moment the pain that Hamilton had inflicted on his borderline hopping car in Baku, when he was pulled out of the cockpit after the race and had to be supported for the first few meters, was already forgotten. like an old man
And now, a week later in Montreal: 44 laps had been completed when the seven-time world champion raced down the straight at full throttle, his helmeted head held in the wind. His old rival, world champion Max Verstappen, who had obviously hoped for a faster pit stop, actually pushed himself out of the pit lane onto the track. And Hamilton actually sped past him.
But the enchanting moment lasted only a few seconds, it was as real as a mirage. Hamilton, for his part, had to pit and needed fresh tires. And Verstappen not only passed Hamilton, he didn’t let anyone else stop him when there was a restart behind the safety car with 17 laps to go, which the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda had triggered when he chased his Alpha Tauri deep into the gang would have. Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari still hung stubbornly on Verstappen for a few laps. But in the end, Verstappen was striving for his sixth win in the ninth race in front of Sainz in the Ferrari and Hamilton in a controlled manner.
The starting grid reads like a trip back in time
Oh yes, Charles Leclerc, Verstappen’s World Cup rival? He finished fifth after a brave race which he had to start from the back. Because Ferrari’s vulnerable drive had already required far more attention from the mechanics this season than the regulations allow, the Monegasque was penalized and was placed 19th on the grid. He is now 49 points behind Verstappen.
The official parking bay arrangement in Montreal read in parts not like a starting grid, but like a journey through time – ten years back in time. Fernando Alonso in second place? And a Schumacher in sixth place? In fact, it had to rain a lot in qualifying to wash the two-time world champion from Spain and Mick Schumacher, son of record world champion Michael, so far up the field.
On the other hand, that didn’t detract from Alonso’s performance, who had circled the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve 1.6 seconds faster than teammate Esteban Ocon and now started from the front row for the first time since the 2012 German Grand Prix. And not that of Schumacher, who had only fought his way into Q3 for the second time in his career. Schumacher saw the starting place as proof of a talent that had recently been called into question by more and more observers given the still zero world championship points and two colossal crashes. “It shows that I’m here for a good reason,” he said defiantly. He meant: Formula 1.
The first lap was already very unsatisfactory for Mick Schumacher
The lights went out on the Ile Notre-Dame. And Alonso didn’t keep his word. He did not attack the 16-year-old Verstappen, who had called him old the day before, whereupon Alonso announced: “I’ll overtake him tomorrow. Let’s see who looks old then!” what to say Four corners had been driven and Alonso, who rolled lazily, was still the old man, Verstappen the youngster.
The first lap was particularly unsatisfactory for Schumacher: Immediately after the start he was overtaken by Esteban Ocon in the Alpine. Then he wasn’t careful in the hairpin bend, and George Russell also secretly pushed his silver arrow past the inside. One lap had been driven and Schumacher was only eighth, his teammate Kevin Magnussen, who had duped him many times this season: fifth.
Alonso, of course not just old, but always a fox, tried to spread himself out in front of the oncoming traffic like a semitrailer. After all, he had waited ten years for this start from the top. But after just three laps, Sainz used the superior power of his Ferrari and took second place without resistance. Now it was up to the Spaniard to at least leave the group around Lewis Hamilton behind, his old favorite opponent since they were together at McLaren, who had already felt “inspired” after qualifying for fourth place, his best result this season . Because Magnussen damaged his front wing in a duel with Hamilton, he had to pit for an exchange. After that he fell back to the end of the field.
Eight laps had been driven when Sergio Perez also reported problems to his Red Bull team. “I’m stuck in a gear,” he called into the radio. Then he rolled out. It wasn’t the weekend of the Mexican and second in the World Championship standings, who had only applied for 13th place on the grid. The safety car was activated and at the front Verstappen and Hamilton took the opportunity for an extremely early tire change. So Sainz and Alonso temporarily took the lead.
And Schumacher now also learned what it means not to be deprived of World Championship points by a driving error – but by reliability problems with his Haas. Smoke suddenly came out of the rear, one of the two energy recovery units was defective, Schumacher rolled out, the Virtual Safety Car was activated for the second time. “It’s an unpleasant feeling,” Schumacher later complained to Sky. “We had the speed for fifth place.” And with regard to the fact that after a year and a half in Formula 1 he is still waiting for his first championship point, he made a promise: “Another day.” Another day.
While those drivers who had not stopped at the first opportunity now headed for their pit lanes, Alonso caused a little mystery: he drove on. Only after Hamilton had overtaken him did he also head for the supply lane and have new tires handed to him. In the end, very annoyed, he was only seventh – still behind his teammate Ocon.
Halfway through the race, Verstappen was leading the race ahead of Sainz and the Silver Arrows of Hamilton and Russell. Leclerc had meanwhile made up 13 positions and was already sixth. However, he was walled in behind Ocon – and as one of only three drivers he had not yet held.
The crash of Tsunoda and the safety car caused a bit of tension for a while. Alonso lost his position to Ocon, and when he wanted to overtake his team-mate, his team radioed: hold your position! Sainz in particular benefited because he was able to make a time-saving pit stop. Ultimately, however, Verstappen eluded him again and again at the top.
And Lewis Hamilton? Springy as a teenager, he jumped out of his Mercedes at the end of a satisfying day’s work. No signs of back pain. He smiled and said, “We’re getting closer and closer! I almost feel young again.”