Lewis Hamilton wins Canadian Grand Prix for second straight victory

By John Nicholson, AP
Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hamilton wins Canadian Grand Prix

MONTREAL — Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team made all the right moves in the Canadian Grand Prix, leaving Red Bull behind at sunny Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Hamilton raced to his second straight Formula 1 victory and second Canadian victory in four years Sunday, holding off teammate Jenson Button to take the season points lead from Red Bull’s Mark Webber.

“I don’t know why I do well here,” Hamilton said. “I love it here. It’s a great track, great city, great food and great weather today. … I’m just able to dial in my car here and have a better feel here than some other places.”

Hamilton, the 25-year-old British star who raced to his first F1 victory in 2007 in Montreal, started from the pole en route to his 13th career victory after gambling on Bridgestone’s super-soft compound tires in the qualifying finale. The top 10 starters are required to start the race on the tires they used in the final qualifying segment.

Webber qualified second on the more durable medium-compound tires, but was dropped from second to seventh on the starting grid because of a gearbox change.

The Australian took the lead after the other front-runners made their second and last stops, but gave up considerable time on his badly worn tires. He didn’t pit until just after Hamilton took the lead on the 50th of 70 laps.

“Tires played a huge role in the race today and, in the end, we did the best we could,” Webber said. “I was trying to keep my pace constant, but in the end the tires didn’t want that pace and they go away from you. It’s virtually impossible to keep the tires from degrading here, no matter how slow you drive.”

Hamilton and McLaren managed their tires and pit stops perfectly.

“It was difficult to know how much to save your tires and how much to push,” Hamilton said. “It was very, very challenging. It was the ultimate challenge.”

Button, also second behind Hamilton two weeks ago in Turkey, finished 2.2 seconds back in the race run without a full-course caution on the demanding 2.71-mile track.

“It was a really fun race,” said Button, a two-time winner for McLaren this season after winning the world title last year for Brawn GP. “It was very difficult to judge when to push with the tires. I think I kicked it in a bit early on the last stint, but it got me P2, so I’m very happy with that.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was third, followed by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Webber, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, Renault’s Robert Kubica — the 2008 winner in the last race in Montreal — and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi.

Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher, the seven-time F1 champion and also a seven-time Montreal winner, finished 11th after starting 13th.

“The first stop was perfectly timed, so it was looking quite promising,” Schumacher said. “Then I had a puncture on the front right tire … after I got together with Kubica, and that obviously decided my race. From there, I was stuck in traffic and there was nothing more to do because today our weapons were not very sharp.”

After starting the race on the super-soft tires, Hamilton gave up the lead on the seventh lap to switch to the medium compound. “We felt comfortable with the fact we’d have to stop in the first 10 laps,” Hamilton said.

Webber pitted for the first time on the 14th lap, electing to stay with the medium compound, and had little tread left when he hit the pits again on the 50th circuit — just after Hamilton zoomed past.

Hamilton made his final stop on the 26th lap, putting on another set of medium-compound tires. He rejoined the race in fifth place, quickly worked his way to second, and patiently reeled in Webber — more than 11 seconds ahead at one point.

“I really just tried to maintain the correct balance … and get through traffic without losing too much time,” Hamilton said. “It was very tricky, but we managed to deal with it.”

Hamilton has 109 championship points through eight of 19 races, giving him a three-point lead over Button and six-point advantage over Webber. In the constructors’ standings, McLaren has a 215-193 advantage over Red Bull.

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