A late charge from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was enough to win the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday and extend this season’s extraordinary run of seven different drivers winning the first seven races of 2012.
Hamilton leads the championship by two points from Fernando Alonso, who lost out heavily after his Ferrari team decided on a one-stop strategy.
“It feels great to finally be here on the top step. It feels like one of the best races I've had for a very long time,” Hamilton said in televised comments.
Russian driver Vitaly Petrov had a quiet race after a poor start and finished 19th, his worst result of the season.
Hamilton took risks and pushed as hard as he could on fresh tires to take the lead from the duelling Alonso and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, whose plans to stop only once seemed to be vindicated when Hamilton’s second stop was marred by a delay in changing tires.
“I assumed they were doing a one-stop so I decided to keep pushing,” Hamilton said.
Alonso’s worn tires degraded heavily in the final laps, leaving him a sitting duck for Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, who charged past for second, and Sauber’s Sergio Perez, who took an unlikely third place after starting 15th on the grid.
“Suddenly I went past Fernando Alonso who was slowing, and I was second. It was a crazy race,” Grosjean said of his best-ever result in Formula One.
Mexican driver Perez extracted a modicum of revenge on Alonso after losing out to him for the win at the second race of the season in Malaysia.
Vettel’s Red Bull team abandoned their one-stop plans, and the German was able to recover enough time on the new rubber to take fourth place from Alonso at the death. Vettel is now third in the title race, three points behind Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg was sixth for Mercedes after battling with other cars for most of the race, followed home by Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber in seventh and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen in eighth.
Kamui Kobayashi ensured he too, like his teammate Perez, beat a Ferrari by taking ninth place ahead of Felipe Massa. The under-pressure Brazilian had a good start and was running fifth before he span on lap five, ending his hopes of a good finish.
There were problems for two former champions as McLaren’s Jenson Button finished 16th after a torrid race in which he struggled for pace on the typically faster super-soft tires and suffered the humiliation of being lapped by his teammate Hamilton.
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher was forced to retire at two-thirds distance after his speed-boosting DRS flap stuck open, making his car illegal and potentially dangerous.
Vitaly Petrov lost three places on the opening lap after a slow start and was classified below teammate Heikko Kovalainen for the third race in a row, finishing 19th to the Finn’s 18th place.
The next race takes place in Valencia on June 24.
1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
3. Sergio Perez (Sauber)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
5. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes-Benz)
7. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
8. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
9. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
10. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
11. Paul di Resta (Force India)
12. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
13. Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
14. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
15. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
16. Jenson Button (McLaren)
17. Bruno Senna (Williams)
18. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)
19. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)
20. Charles Pic (Marussia)
21. Timo Glock (Marussia) - retired lap 61, brake failure
22. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes-Benz) - retired lap 46, DRS flap stuck
23. Pedro de la Rosa (HRT) - retired lap 26, brake failure
24. Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) - retired lap 24, spin