Canadian GP 2019
JUNE 9, 2019
Race Analysis - Grass cutting
By Dan Knutson in Montreal
When Sebastian Vettel cut across the grass on lap 48 of the Canadian Grand Prix he set in motion the inevitable chain of events that would result in Lewis Hamilton winning the race. Here is how Vettel sealed his fate.
For the first time in 17 races Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel started from the pole position.
44 in 2
Hamilton put his #44 Mercedes in the second place on the grid.
Next on the lineup were Charles Leclerc (Mercedes) and Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), but neither they nor anyone else would be a factor in the victory. That was all between Vettel and Hamilton.
The Mercedes team had a scare on Sunday morning when Hamilton’s car had a hydraulic leak. But it was repaired before the start of the 70-lap race.
13 in 20
Thirteen times in the last 20 Canadian Grands Prix the safety car has been deployed. It would not make an appearance in the race this year because there were no accidents on the opening lap or at any time during the race.
Vettel led ahead of Hamilton, Leclerc and Ricciardo.
This would be a one pit stop strategy race. Vettel pitted after 26 laps to switch from the medium compound Pirelli slicks to the hard compound.
Hamilton led for two laps before doing the same.
CHARLES IN CHARGE
Leclerc was in charge of the race for five laps before his pit stop.
BACK IN FRONT
Vettel resumed the lead with Hamilton second on lap 33.
THE FATEFUL MOMENT
The fateful moment happened on lap 48 between Turns 3 and 4.
Vettel bobbled his car and had to cut across the grass. He came back onto the track and nearly hit Hamilton.
“I lost the rear of the car so obviously it wasn’t voluntarily going sailing across the track, not knowing how and in which fashion I would be rejoining,” Vettel said. “It was clear I was on the limit and pushing very hard throughout the entire race. Obviously, I was going through the grass and I think it’s quite commonly known that the grass isn’t very grippy, and then I was coming back on track and just trying to make sure I had the car under control.”
“It looked like we were going to crash so I had to brake and come off the gas to avoid a collision,” Hamilton said. “Fortunately we did avoid that.”
The stewards used the handbook to apply the standard penalty to Vettel.
The Ferrari team radioed: “We have a five-second time penalty for unsafe re-entry. Head down, head down.”
Vettel responded: “I had nowhere to go. Seriously I had nowhere to go. I didn’t see him.”
Hamilton could now finish second and still be first. But he wanted to be first on the race track as well.
“Even when I heard there was a penalty I kept pushing because I thought maybe we could still have that race,” he said. “It is such a hard time to follow as the temperatures are so high. It is the heaviest duty track for the cars as it is very physical for the cars and drivers. So I just tried to get as close as I could.”
Vettel was still steaming.
The team radioed: “OK, stay focused. Copy that but stay focused. 10 laps to go.”
Vettel responded: “I am focused but they are stealing the race from us!”
Ferrari: “Copy that.”
FIGHTING TO THE FINISH
“I still wanted to win the right way and overtake him on the track, so I was fighting until the finish line, but my tires were gone, Hamilton said. “Ferrari did a fantastic job this weekend, they were so fast on the straights and Sebastian drove a great race, it took absolutely everything from me to try and keep up with them. It's not a great feeling and ultimately that's not how I want to win races, but I drove my heart out today to make my team proud and I feel like I did that.”
ACROSS THE LINE
So although Vettel was the first across the finish line, he was relegated to second place.
“We had a great race,” Vettel said. “The team did fantastic and obviously I’m not happy with the decision the stewards took. I think you can understand, so it feels a bit weird not having won the race even though you crossed the line first. As I said, I don’t feel I have done anything wrong, I don’t feel I could have done anything different. I don’t know actually what the problem was. Not much more to say. From my point of view, all the people out there, they probably agree with me.”
Ferrari notified the FIA of its intention to appeal the Vettel penalty. The team had 96 hours to decide it would proceed with the appeal.