By BILL BEACON
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Monday, June 11, 2018
MONTREAL -- It was all about Ferrari at this year's Canadian Grand Prix and Sebastian Vettel sealed it with a victory.
Vettel was well aware of the many Prancing Pony flags in the packed grandstands at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as he kept the lead from pole position and coasted to victory on Sunday.
It was the Italian team's first Canadian GP win since Michael Schumacher in 2004, a race Vettel watched on television as a teenager at home in Germany.
It was also the 50th career victory for the 30-year-old, who was a four-time Formula One champion in his days at Red Bull Renault.
And it came as the event celebrated a rousing win 40 years ago by another Ferrari driver - Gilles Villeneuve of Berthierville, Que., whose son Jacques drove his dad's 1978 Ferrari around the track in the prerace parade lap.
"Like every Grand Prix, there's not one person to dedicate it to," Vettel said. "I dedicate it to the team and to the Canadian [Ferrari] fans.
"I think they've waited long enough for Ferrari to do well here.
Forty years after Gilles won his Grand Prix here, I think it's great to show that Ferrari's still alive, winning races. I'm extremely proud to become part of that story. Hopefully a bit more in the future."
A race known for spills and mishaps was mostly uneventful, other than a crash that put local favourite Lance Stroll of Montreal out only a quarter of the way through the first lap. And a miscalculation that saw a race official wave the checkered flag when there was still one lap to go.
It could have been nasty if fans jumped onto the track thinking it was over, or if a driver let up and got passed, but none did and Vettel wasn't fooled. "That was funny," Vettel said. "On my steering wheel, they have the lap count and it showed one more lap to go.
"I even watched on TV and it said 'final lap.' I asked and they said 'keep pushing.' I was a bit confused. Some of the marshals were already celebrating. I think they peaked a bit early, but most of them are men so it might happen. But, over all, it's been a great day."
The top three kept their positions from the start, with Vettel leading ahead of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Vettel's lone pit stop on the 38th of 70 laps saw him emerge with a six-second lead that was never threatened.
Daniel Ricciardo, a winner two weeks ago in Monaco in another race panned for being dull, brought his Red Bull in third, just ahead of defending champion Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes. Hamilton has won the Canadian race six times, including the previous three. But Vettel passed the Briton for a one-point lead in drivers standings.
Mercedes were never in the victory equation, having not got engine updates ready in time for the race while Ferrari and Red Bull both had new parts. Hamilton came within a second of challenging Ricciardo late in the race, but then encountered fuel troubles. It was the same for Bottas running behind Vettel.
"With the start we had, with the race we had, there was nothing more we could do," said Bottas, who has finished second four times this season, but hasn't yet won. "Ferrari was better than us this week, with the Red Bull very close to us, so I think there was nothing we could have done better.
Sebastian Vettel crosses the finish line at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal Sunday to win the Canadian GP.