Canadian GP 2018: Super Sebastian ended the Red Team's long dry season in Canada

The history wasn't on the Red Team's side, as the F1 circus moved to Montreal, Canada. Last Ferrari pole had been taken by the legendary Michael Schumacher back in 2001, and the latest victory three years later by the very same driver. Red Bull's Verstappen had dominated all three of the free practice sessions but when it came down to the qualifying, the red cars seemed to come alive. Sebastian and Kimi were the fastest drivers in the first segment, separated by 0.015s only! In Q2 the question was which teams were to set their fastest lap times on the purple-marked ultra-soft Pirellis. Both Ferrari and Mercedes sent their drivers out on the ultra-softs, whilst Red Bull opted for the pink-walled hyper-soft compound. In Q2, it was extremely tight between the top four, as Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sebastian and Kimi were all within nine hundredths of a second. The pink-marked softest rubber was everyone's choice in the last decisive segment. Although Verstappen had shone in the free practices, now it was Sebastian's turn to shine. The imperious German made it on pole for the fourth time this season! This time Bottas was the leading Mercedes driver, completing the front row. The Finn was tiny 0.093s down on the pole-setter Sebastian. Finally, Verstappen managed to avoid mistakes, and the flying Dutchman made it third in the qualifying, although both Red Bulls were struggling in the final sector. Hamilton had to be content with P4. Kimi had made a costly mistake on his second run, taking it to the grass at Turn 2, which led to the tame P5 in the qualifying. Kimi had shown top form in Q1 and Q2, but a mistake of his own ruined the Iceman's qualifying in the shootout for pole. It was such a pity!

After two quite boring races everyone anticipated, that the track of Ile Notre-Dame was certainly going to offer a lot of entertainment. The start of the race was definitely electrifying. Sebastian, being on pole, got a fantastic start, holding on to his lead. Verstappen in P3 had a slight tyre advantage as he started the race on the hyper-softs, whilst Sebastian and Bottas in front of him started on the middle compound. Verstappen was hungry to challenge Bottas for P2, and they were going wheel-to-wheel into the first corners. Their wheels even touched at one point. But the Finn had done his homework well, and he determinedly defended his second position, not letting Verstappen to get past. Unfortunately, Kimi's start left a lot to hope for. The Iceman wasn't very aggressive going into Turn 1, and Red Bull's Ricciardo saw his opportunity and made it past Kimi, snatching P5. Further back in the pack Williams' home hero Stroll lost control of his FW41, crashing into Hartley's Toro Rosso in high speed. Debris was flying all over, and both drivers were out of the race. A safety car was deployed already on the opening lap.

After the re-start the order of the top six remained unchanged. Sebastian unleashed his inner lion and started to bang fastest lap times one after the other. It was obvious that there was nothing Bottas could do to match the pace of the storming Sebastian. Hamilton, instead, was in trouble. He reported on the team radio, that he was missing power. During the pit stops, Ricciardo benefitted from the overcut and managed to re-join the track ahead of Hamilton, claiming P4. All top six drivers opted for the red-marked super-soft compound, although the Ferrari aces and Bottas pitted significantly later than their rivals.

There were no thrilling turns or wheel-banging battles for positions at the end of the race, either. Surprisingly no casualties claimed by the Wall of Champions this year! Sebastian had a clean lead in the race, Bottas was second and Verstappen third. Hamilton had closed the gap to Ricciardo and even made it within DRS distance from the Australian. However, Hamilton's pace seemed quite tame, definitely no party mode! There were no attempts to overtake. Verstappen, too had managed to decrease the gap to Bottas towards the closing stages of the race, as the Finn was forced to save fuel. But Bottas was never in danger of losing his P2 to the Dutchman.

There was a bizarre episode with the chequered flag. The super-model Winnie Harlow, who was in charge of waving the flag, waved it a lap too early! Sebastian pointed it out on the team radio right away. Luckily it didn't have an effect on the race results, but it did affect the DHL fastest lap reward. Ricciardo's fastest lap time was excluded, and the honour went to teammate Verstappen, who had set the lap time on the second last lap. Although the Canadian GP hadn't been filled with thrilling battles or classy overtaking moves, I can’t complain about the boredom of the race. It was absolutely fantastic to see Sebastian lead from the start till the chequered flag! Sebastian clinched his third win of the season, 50th of his career. And after 14 years Sebastian managed to end Ferrari's dry season in Canada! It was absolutely heart-warming to see Sebastian celebrate his victory after the race. By winning the Canadian GP, Sebastian snatched back the lead in the championship standings!

Bottas finished the runner-up, after driving an impressive and strong race. Verstappen finally managed to convert his mistake-filled first third of the season into success by completing the podium. Teammate Ricciardo finished fourth, Hamilton fifth, and Kimi had to settle for modest P6. The battle for the championship is definitely getting heated. Although Sebastian now leads by one point, Mercedes is still the team to beat in the constructors' standings. They still have a 17-point lead to the Red Team. But, luckily, the summer will be filled with hot Formula 1 action, as there will be 6 races in just 8 weeks! Hopefully many more victories to take for the Red Team! Forza Ferrari!

With passion for racing red, 
Iina Huhmarniemi

Jun 19, 2018