Vettel makes amends for 2011 defeat with victory

2013 Canadian Grand Prix review

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Sebastian Vettel made amends for his last-lap defeat at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve two years ago and bolstered his championship lead with his third victory of 2013.

It wasn’t a flawless performance from Vettel – he brushed the wall on the way and ran wide at the first corner. But if he occasionally looked like throwing victory away no one ever looked like taking it off him.

Vettel streaks away as Bottas goes backwards

The same two drivers shared the front row as last year: Vettel ahead of Lewis Hamilton. But the opening laps were strikingly different: far from keeping Vettel in his sights, Hamilton could only look on as the Red Bull drove away in the opening laps.

Behind them Valtteri Bottas fought hard to hold onto his hard-won third place from qualifying but his car was clearly unequal to the struggle. Nico Rosberg passed him off the line and Mark Webber got past in the opening corners.

Bottas defended firmly and fairly against Fernando Alonso, repeatedly forcing him to the outside, but once they reached the long back straight the Ferrari was easily by.

DRS was enabled on lap three, giving fresh ammunition to the Williams driver’s pursuers. Jean-Eric Vergne was the next man by but Adrian Sutil’s attempt to follow him through went wrong, the Force India spinning at turn four.

Daniel Ricciardo took to the grass in avoidance and moved up to eighth with Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus on his tail.

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They were soon joined by the recovering Ferrari of Felipe Massa. He’d made rapid progress in the opening laps, picking off Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg to gain a toehold on the points positions.

Massa now put Raikkonen under pressure but the Lotus driver responded by taking eighth off Ricciardo, who had started to struggle after his off-track moment. “I felt we could have a good race, but after just four laps, the car was oversteering like crazy and I couldn’t manage the tyres anymore,” he said.

Rosberg drops back

By lap 12 Vettel was six-and-a-half seconds clear of Hamilton. Webber had spent several laps trying to put a move on Rosberg before being advised to drop back and save his tyres to attack later.

Most drivers started the race on the super-soft compound. But the track had been washed clean by persistent rain before race day, making their performance hard to predict, and they started to go off quickly.

Sutil was one of the first drivers to pit, coming in on lap ten complaining of a lack of rear grip. He had also picked up rear wing damage when Pastor Maldonado clipped his car at the second hairpin – for which the Williams driver received a drive-through penalty.

The Red Bulls came in before the Mercedes, Webber on lap 14 and Vettel two laps later, handing the lead to Hamilton. The Mercedes driver hung on for another four laps but was able to continue in second following his pit stop.

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Behind him was a converging trio comprising Rosberg, Webber and Alonso who shortly began disputing third place. Rosberg defended hard against Webber, giving him mere millimetres of space on the run to the chicane, but despite having Alonso breathing down his neck the Red Bull driver eventually prevailed. Alonso followed him by into fourth while Rosberg made an early second pit stop on lap 32.

The Mercedes emerged from the pits still in front of Vergne. The Toro Rosso was being pursued by two drivers who had started on medium tyres and were yet to pit: Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean.

Alonso climbs to second

Vettel continued to force a rapid pace at the head of the field, giving the wall at turn four a glancing blow on one lap. He later admitted he hadn’t realised his mistake, and when he saw the mark he’s left on the wall on the next lap assumed it had been left by someone else.

Shortly before half distance he put Raikkonen a lap down, race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin urging caution as he did so. It was the latest in a series of frustrations for the Lotus driver who was struggling with his brakes, had been told to conserve fuel and lost time during his first pit stop due to a problem with his rear jack.

Vettel had switched to the medium tyres for his second stint. These proved the better compound and he was able to stretch his middle stint out to lap 50. By then he was far enough ahead to make his final pit stop without losing the lead to Hamilton.

But now Alonso had taken over from Webber in third place. He latched onto the rear of his rival after the Red Bull driver tangled with the lapped Giedo van der Garde at the hairpin, damaging the nose of the RB9.

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Van der Garde was slapped with a ten-second stop-go penalty by the stewards and later apologised for his error. But it was scant consolation for Webber who had to watch Alonso breeze past him in the DRS zone, ending his podium hopes.

Alonso set about catching Hamilton in the final stint and he had help from traffic again. This time it was Sutil who got in Hamilton’s way. The former F3 team mates were once good friends, but that ended when Hamilton declined to appear at Sutil’s 2012 trial for assault. Whether it was an oversight on Sutil’s part or something less innocent, he held Hamilton up for ten corners before letting him and Alonso by together.

Shortly after that, Alonso took second off the Mercedes. He then ran wide at turn nine, allowing Hamilton to attack him in the DRS zone, but the Ferrari’s superior straight line speed proved too much for him.

Di Resta one-stops to seventh

Webber slipped back in fourth and behind him Rosberg, Vergne and Di Resta all had big enough gaps behind them to make late pit stops. Di Resta’s was his only visit to the pit lane all race, a one-stop strategy helping him gain ten places by the chequered flag.

Massa took eighth off Raikkonen on the penultimate tour, the Ferrari proving hard for anyone to resist in the DRS zone. Sutil’s drive-though penalty for holding Hamilton up – which he voiced his criticism of afterwards – dropped him to tenth place.

The McLaren pair failed to break into the top ten despite splitting their strategies, and so neither Woking car was in the points for the first time since the last race of 2009.

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Grosjean did not stay out as long on his medium tyres as Di Resta did, and when he switched to the super-softs he found “they dropped off far quicker than we expected which forced us to stop again”. The left him 13th.

He was followed by a disappointed Bottas, whose race was a 69-lap regression towards the mean level of performance in the FW35 after his qualifying effort put it far higher on the grid than it deserved to be.

Ricciardo struggled to 15th while his team mate brought home Toro Rosso’s best result of the season so far. The delayed Maldonado was 16th while Jules Bianchi led home Charles Pic and Max Chilton.

Esteban Gutierrez completed a miserable race for Sauber by crashing into the turn two barrier following a late pit stop. Nico Hulkenberg had already retired after becoming the second driver to collide with Van der Garde while lapping him. The Caterham driver was held responsible for that as well, receiving another penalty after the contact ended his race as well.

Vettel says Red Bull have improved

Vettel’s words after the race had an ominous ring for his rivals. “We had average tyre wear, which hasn’t always been the case for us, so we have made a step forward there.”

The RB9’s treatment of its tyres has been its most significant weakness thus far. Yet Vettel has emerged from the first seven races with a 36-point advantage over his closest championship rival.

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Alonso limited the damage by recovering second place. But taking just three points from the last two races will be a cause of concern for Raikkonen. He needs to reverse that decline to stop the championship battle becoming a two-horse race.

The race provided sufficiently strong storylines of its own to briefly quieten the furore over Mercedes’ disputed test. Hamilton and Rosberg ended the race 15 and 70 seconds behind the leaders respectively, indicating that whatever they learned behind closed doors in Barcelona has not solved all their problems with the W04. By the next race at Silverstone in three weeks’ time we should have some answers to the questions posed by that controversy.

2013 Canadian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Vettel makes amends for 2011 defeat with victory”

  1. In hindsight, I think qualifying still had a significant word in the outcome of the race.

    What I liked about this race was that there were some people who had a fast car in race trim, but their qualifying performance was poor, like Alonso, Massa, di Resta, also Sutil had to climb his way back, etc. I liked how these cars were able to work their way to the front or into contention. Not as quickly and as high up as a similar advantage would have allowed in NASCAR for instance, but reasonably well.

    Still, it was this poor qualifying performance from Alonso what ultimately cost him at least a duel with Vettel (mind you, a DRS failure likely cost another one in Bahrain), who had the pace in race trim and in qualifying too. But, and this is a big ‘but’, Vettel’s advantage in qualifying would likely not had been this big compared to Alonso if it had stayed dry, c. p. Friday’s one-lap running. In fact, Vettel or Webber put a Red Bull first in almost any session this year, where it was either damp (Malaysia qualifying) or just dried up and the track was very green (Australia qualifying, Canada FP3).

    So qualifying had a big role this time around for once. Or, indeed, for the second time in a row after Monaco. Obviously, these were specific circumstances (first the lack of passing opportunities, then this Sunday the rain), but still.

    This race would have been so much better for both the neutrals and an Alonso fan, like me, if either qualifying had been dry, or Vettel had crashed out in Turn 4 early doors.

    1. @atticus-2 Looking forward for some one to crash for the race to be better cannot be termed a great expectation from the race. I felt that even if the qualifying was on dry tires Vettel would have had a serious shot at Pole.

    2. This race would have been so much better for both the neutrals and an Alonso fan, like me, if either qualifying had been dry, or Vettel had crashed out in Turn 4 early doors.

      Glad to know that the neutrals wanted Vettel to crash. Who would have thought that?

      1. Yes, it’s good to see that “neutrals” would wish a driver to crash. The schadenfreude squad is out it seems…

    3. I am neither implying nor making it look neutrals imply Vettel should have crashed.

      I simply implied that

      1) Me, as an Alonso fan, would have been better off with Alonso victorious and Vettel DNF;
      2) The neutrals would rate the race higher if there had been a pass for the lead in the dying states.

  2. Good Show by Red Bull and Vettel. Sorry for Webber, his race was ruined a bit by the Caterham incident. Otherwise they might be looking at a Red Bull 1 – 2.

    Decent job by Alonso. A very sad Lewis on the stage. Not sure why he was giving 3 worded answers for the questions. McLaren needs some radical change. They are kinda lost.

  3. On the Sutil incident – I felt he was unfair on Lewis, though I dont want to call it as the payback for the No Show on the Trial.

  4. What happened to Webber in the last 15 or so laps? He could have been fighting for 3rd at the end. He had been passed by Alonso, had his front wing ran over and with 15 laps left, was 3-4 seconds behind Alonso. Then he was told to push til the end, but, began losing a second a lap and remained around 8-10 seconds to Hamilton for the last few laps. Right at the end, he pulls out the fastest lap of the race, so he had pace even with his damaged wing.

    1. I’ve seen Mark do that before. I think he often just gets in a funk and switches off when something goes wrong for him.

      Abu Dhabi 2010 – he was supposedly fighting for a WDC and had Alonso right ahead of him, but he never seemed to make any serious effort to get past. FA left himself exposed a few timed in his own efforts to get past Petrov, but Mark just seemed totally uninterested. I wondered at the time if he was having car problems.

  5. That was Toro Rosso’s best result since the days SV drove for them. Vergne may end up in Webbers seat next year if he continues like this.

    Alonso’s drive reminded me of many he had last year. A good drive but certainly aided considerably by Webber and Hamilton being illegally held up, by VDG and Sutil respectively.

    1. That was Toro Rosso’s best result since the days SV drove for them. Vergne may end up in Webbers seat next year if he continues like this.

      First I think the battle betweet Ricciardo and Vergne is close. Before Monaco Ricciardo looked to have the open hand, but Vergne had has great races the last two.

      And seing the standings is amazing, Vettel at this moment has 63 more points than Webber, Kimi has 62 more points than Grosjean, and Alonso has 47 more points than Massa. Clearly making a case as why Vettel, Alonso and Kimi are the first driver in each of their teams.

      1. Maybe it was a lucky day for Vergne just like when Ricciardo scored the 7th position this year

  6. Any particular reason that Alonso wasn’t investigated for failing to leave a cars width when moving back onto the racing line after defending? It seems to be a rule that was invented and then completely ignored whenever its contravened.

    1. Because Hamilton wasn’t alongside. Rosberg did pretty much the same when defending from Alonso and Webber, but again, they weren’t alongside so no investigation needed.

      1. Neither was Hamilton to Schumacher at Monza when the rule came about. But everyone isn’t hated equally.

      2. Is part of the front wing Alonso knocked off not part of the car? Debatable wether it’s “significant” but surely worth a look at imo.

  7. BTW NBC Sports showed a replay of Alonso overtaking during on an yellow Flag. Did not hear anything after that. What’s up with that ?

    1. Do you remember the lap? Watching the repeat of the race will look for it…

    2. Yeah and had DRS open in yellow flag zone it looked like.. Teflonso..

    3. If I recall correctly, he was lapping Gutierrez before Turn 13. There were yellow flags and Alonso’s wing was open, but I’m not too sure about that.
      Luca Filippi (who is a commentator for Sky Sport F1 here in Italy) noticed that, and said that this episode should have been investigated.

    4. @tmax I picked up on that one immediately: can’t remember the exact lap but I believe it was when he was hounding Webber so around the late 30’s in terms of laps. It looked to me like he blatantly passed him in the yellow flag zone but I don’t know if circumstances change because of the fact the driver being overtaken was a lapped car. Or as was the case with Vettel in Brazil there could’ve been a green flag somewhere!

      I do think it deserves investigation though, or at least proper video footage.

      1. there was a flashing yellow light (for the Yellow and Red Stripe flag) meaning slippery surface or debris.

        Why American broadcasters can’t get that straight, I really don’t know. It’s one reason I don’t watch them.

  8. I dont say this often enough, but it was a masterclass of a drive from Vettel, albeit he had the few hairy moments.

    Thoroughly deserves driver of the weekend.

    The rest need to catch up quickly. The win was reminiscent of 2011, and was very Schumacher esque. This is a worrying sign for the chasing pack. Having said this, Montreal is not hard on tyres as the other tracks that will follow, so all hope is not lost. Silverstone could be interesting. A more abbrasive surface could favour Ferrari and Lotus in both wet or dry perhaps? If both teams must get up to scratch in qualy, easier said than done. I dont envy the job engineers have. The balance right is so intricate. Its qualy vs raceday, its one or the other. Red Bull, unsurprisingly have the best balance , albeit not perfect.

    Cant wait for Silverstone. 3 weeks seems an eternity.

  9. Mr win or lose
    10th June 2013, 9:40

    Great article, good fun. Especially:

    Whether it was an oversight on Sutil’s part or something less innocent, he held Hamilton up for ten corners before letting him and Alonso by together.

    He was followed by a disappointed Bottas, whose race was a 69-lap regression towards the mean level of performance in the FW35

    There is only two things I would like to remark:
    1) I think Rosberg’s strange tyre strategy is worth mentioning.
    2) The link to Sutil’s dissatisfaction with the stewards appears twice in the text.

  10. was on me hols in germany and caught the race, (rtl I think, could be wrong) from lap 42 to the end, from lap 49 to 56 there was an ad break, enough said!!!!!!!!!!

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