Vettel claims 50th win and goes to the top in title race


Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 16

Sebastian Vettel claimed the 50th win of his career and reclaimed the lead of this year’s world championship on Sunday when he ended Lewis Hamilton’s run of supremacy at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The four-time champion German drove his Ferrari with near flawless aplomb to convert his 54th pole position into a triumphant afternoon ahead of Finn Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and determined Dutchman Max Verstappen, who was third for Red Bull.

Vettel’s third victory this season lifted him to 121 points ahead of Hamilton on 120 after seven races, ending the defending four-time champion’s hopes of a record-equaling seventh win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where he won from the pole position for the past three years.

It was Ferrari’s first win in Canada since 2004 and came from their first pole there in 17 years. It was also Vettel’s second win in Canada, where he won in 2013 for Red Bull.

“Perfect is a good way to describe this,” a delighted Vettel said. “I said yesterday that this place means a lot to Ferrari and to have a race like this is unbelievable.”

He said the win was special because it came 40 years after Canadian Gilles Villeneuve had won his first race for Ferrari.

The race began in near-perfect conditions with an air temperature of 20°C and the track at 45°C as the lights went out.

Vettel, from his fourth Canadian pole, made a clean start while behind him Bottas had to scrap to resist a robust attack from Verstappen.

Hamilton’s early pit-stop on an enforced two-stop strategy, due to an engine heating problem, had done him no favors, but when Raikkonen pitted after 33 laps, the Englishman was able to hang on and regain fifth as the Ferrari rejoined.

This left Vettel and Bottas out in front, 24 seconds ahead of Verstappen, but still running on their original ultra-softs. Bottas was first to blink on lap 37, with Vettel following one lap later, both going to super-softs.

A grandstand finish looked possible until Bottas ran off at the first turn and took to the grass before recovering. He had lost two seconds and Vettel, turning the screw, responded with a fastest lap before cruising to a crushing victory.