In Depth

Lewis Hamilton dominates in Canada as F1 pendulum swings to Mercedes

British driver cuts Sebastian Vettel's championship lead to 12 points, but there is yet more misery for McLaren

Mercedes reasserted their authority over Ferrari at the Canadian Grand Prix with driver Lewis Hamilton sauntering to victory followed by team-mate Valtteri Bottas in second, while championship leader Sebastian Vettel forced to settle for fourth place.

The Brit, who qualified on pole, led from the start as Vettel suffered wing damage during a chaotic opening lap and was forced to pit early and work his way back through the field. 

Hamilton 'untouchable'

Although Ferrari driver Vettel still sits top of the drivers championship, Hamilton is now only 12 points behind and the pendulum has swung back in his favour, says Andrew Benson of the BBC

"Two weeks after Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel delivered a hammer blow to Lewis Hamilton in Monaco, Hamilton clawed back much of the lost ground with a perfect weekend in Montreal.

"On a track on which he has always excelled, Hamilton was untouchable." 

He produced a sensational performance during qualifying to equal Ayrton Senna's record of 65 pole positions and once the race began, left the field in his wake.

 A bad day for Vettel

"While Hamilton led from lights out to chequered flag, it was a much more difficult race for Vettel," says Rebecca Clancy of The Times. "The four-times world champion, who had started on the grid from second, had a terrible start and was down in fourth by turn two." 

He also lost his right wing when overtaken by Max Verstappen and after pitting, found himself in 18th place. 

He was also forced in for new tyres with 20 laps remaining. He rejoined in seventh and began to work his way up the field. "Unfortunately for him he only managed to get past the Force Indias with four laps to go and it was simply not enough time to get past Daniel Ricciardo [in third], who had spent most of the race defending his Red Bull's position," says Clancy.

Alonso back - and so are McLaren's problems

Meanwhile, McLaren driver Fernando Alonso returned to the F1 grind after the thrills of the Indianapolis to discover not much had changed in his absence.

"The Spaniard was desperate to secure McLaren's first points of a wretched campaign and spent much of the race raging at his engineer for meddling in his progress," says Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph. "Alonso, a double world champion blessed with superlative race-craft, is grappling with a machine fit for the breakers' yard.

Added to that was the "indignity" of being overtaken by rookie Lance Stroll driving for Williams and then, with "grim predictability", breaking down two laps from the end.

It appears to be the end of the road for McLaren's relationship with Honda, says Benson of the BBC.

"Behind the scenes, several sources say, McLaren are preparing to split with Honda and use Mercedes customer engines next year.

"[McLaren] have lost confidence that Honda will ever deliver - a message made pretty clear in an interview executive director Zak Brown gave last week, the essence of which he repeated in Canada."

Verstappen's hopes fade

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen's sensational start raised the prospect of shock win, but that hope soon evaporated.

"The flying Dutchman's charge, alas, was... rudely interrupted, his engine expiring on lap 11 and his stricken car left to be towed by the marshals from a perilous point on the straight," says Brown. "Christian Horner, Red Bull's team principal, buried his head in his hands. This was a rare chance for them to gatecrash the Mercedes-Ferrari duopoly but they were let down, not for the first time, by the gremlins in their Renault engines." 

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