Daniel Riccardo won his first ever Grand Prix at Canada this evening, in what was an action-packed race from start to finish. The Red Bull driver crossed the line four seconds ahead of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who alongside his teammate suffered issues halfway through the race, when both the MGU-K units packed up in their Mercedes engines. Whilst Rosberg was able to control the situation in the clean air, it became more of a challenge for Hamilton in the dirty air, who was leaning towards the rear brakes – where the KERS unit takes its energy from – in the brake bias more than Nico, which was confirmed in a radio message between Rosberg and his engineer. The result was Hamilton’s rear brakes burning out, which forced him to retire from the race and give up a crucial amount of points in the process.
Rosberg was able to retain the lead of the race by switching a few dials on his steering wheel, but the gap was closing between himself and third-placed man Sergio Perez. The two Red Bulls were also on the back of this battle, after they were stuck behind the Force India for the majority of the race. They elected to run on a two-stop, whilst Force India were one-stopping. The result was the two meeting in the middle, Perez had started on the Super-Soft tyre and ran it for about 27 laps before pitting for his Softs, which Force India knew would be able to go the distance based on Hulkenberg’s 76-lap run from his previous stint. They were of course on used tyres.
An interesting decision from the Red Bull pitwall however during the second round of pitstops, saw Riccardo end up ahead of Vettel, after his teammate had pitted first. He of course was held up by Hulkenberg after his first pitstop, who was on course for doing his large stint on the Soft tyre, then switching to the Super-Soft for a run to the end. Perez was also a factor for Red Bull in that battle, and they had to cover Williams, so any more time lost behind the Force India might have stopped him from getting into the position he did in the end. Vettel wasn’t too happy on the radio though, questioning the teams decision to bring him in when he could’ve put some laps in after Hulkenberg pitted a lap after him.
Williams meanwhile were right in the mix with Red Bull in the first couple of stints, but it was the potential one-stop from Felipe Massa that allowed them to catch up to the two Mercedes drivers when they hit problems, and take the lead of the race. Massa had got a radio call to say that he was going to go to the end of the race on that set of tyres, but he was on tyres that were 62 laps old by then, so it was never going to happen for Williams, who brought him in with twenty laps to go. He found himself behind his teammate Valterri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg, who was on those Super-Softs. Bottas was unable to get past the Force India driver, who defended well on the Super-Soft tyres, but with teammate Massa behind him it was a case of now or never.
He lunged up the inside of the Force India driver heading into the hairpin, but out braked himself, allowing teammate Massa through. That happened all the whilst the Williams team put a radio call through to Bottas, asking him to let Massa through. With the faster car Massa was able to get up right behind Vettel for P4 with just six laps to go. The Williams driver was taunting him, but ultimately was unable to get past where it mattered. Riccardo meanwhile was seeking to get past Perez for P2, which he did heading into turn one with four laps to go, then with two to go he managed to get within a second of Rosberg.
With him being in that DRS window, the Red Bull driver sailed around the outside, taking provisional first. All whilst that was happening, Perez came under fire from Vettel, who managed to overtake the Force India heading into the DRS zone. Massa also wanted a slice of the action, but as he went to overtake the Force India heading into turn one, the Williams smashed into the side of the Force India, nearly taking out Vettel in the process as he cut across the grass then back onto the track, before he came to an abrupt stop when his Williams smashed into the barrier at turn one. Perez also had a nasty impact into the barrier, but both drivers were able to get out of their car unscathed, a testament to the safety of modern Formula 1 safety standards.
That incident did bring out the safety car, which in effect acted as a Red Flag as the race distance had already been reached, crowning Riccardo as the race winner of the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix. It was a good strategy from Red Bull, despite Vettel loosing out. He probably could have stayed out for longer if Red Bull looked at how old Hulkenberg’s tyres were. And it was a hard fought battle with Force India’s who were not looking like contenders on Friday.
A team which did have a nightmare of a race however was Ferrari. It seems they just didn’t have the pace. Alonso outperformed the car again to get it into P6 in the end, but he was fairly anonymous throughout the race. Likewise his teammate, who got some onscreen time when he pretty much mimicked his earlier incident on Friday down at the hairpin, lighting up the rear tyres and just spinning out. Raikkonen lost two positions in that, which resulted in a 10th place finish. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was another one who lucked into position [8th] after that incident with Perez and Massa.
Jenson Button did well to get into P4. He was on a two-stop strategy, and managed to get past both Alonso and Hulkenberg in the closing stages, to get what eventually turned into a top five position. His teammate Kevin Magnussen however, put in a slightly less exciting result for P9, having a race similar to Kimi Raikkonen’s in the end where the temperatures were just too hot for their cars to handle. Both Lotus’ were also victims of the temperatures, with Maldonado and Grosjean seemingly DNF-ing after quite a bad weekend.
Both Sauber’s also failed to get into the points, which means Marussia are still ahead of them in the constructors championship. Both Marussia’s also failed to finish, however it was due to an incident earlier on in the race when the pair made contact with each other heading into turn four, ending both their races rather abruptly after the high of Monaco just two weeks ago. Their main competitors Caterham however, also did not finish this race after Kobayashi suffered rear suspension damage and Ericsson suffering from suspected engine-related issues.
With Lewis Hamilton failing to finish this race though, it has proved to be crucial for the championship. Both Mercedes drivers have the best chance of winning any race this year, and for him to not finish, he is lucky that Rosberg only collected 18 points and not 25, otherwise Hamilton would’ve had to win the next four races if he wanted to regain the lead of the championship. This is a long year though, and as Paddy Lowe said after the race, these sort of issues could occur again at some point during the season, making reliability even more crucial for this pair.