Daniel Ricciardo wins Canadian thriller

Daniel Ricciardo has become Formula One’s 105th winner following victory in an exciting Canadian Grand Prix. The Australian driver, who has finished third behind a Mercedes 1-2 on two occasions this year, took advantage of an ailing Mercedes to take the lead of the race with just three laps remaining. It was a disappointing day at the office for the Silver Arrows – who have won all of the first six races – as both drivers suffered MGU-K problems, suffering from a loss of power and allowing the chasing pack to catch. Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire with his problem but Nico Rosberg was able to drive around his and ultimately finished second. Sebastian Vettel picked up his second podium of the season.

At the start of the race it was business as usual for the Mercedes duo as the pair pulled away from the pack. While Hamilton got the better start, he was unable to make a move on his team-mate stick and so settled for second place in the opening laps. At the back of the pack there was drama as Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi crashed out of the race, bringing out the safety car to recover the stricken Marussias. The incident was deemed to be Chilton’s fault and so he was handed a three-place grid drop for Austria. It also brought an end to his 26 consecutive finishes from his debut at the Australian Grand Prix in 2013. The safety car was out for six laps, but after that the pack were able to get racing again. Hamilton closed on Rosberg but the latter cut across the final chicane as the pressure mounted. It was investigated by the stewards but Rosberg was given a warning and if he did it again he would be penalised. At about half way distance, both Mercedes cars reported loss of power and their pace dropped by three seconds, allowing Felipe Massa to catch and pass the pair of them to take the lead of the race.

Massa had been hoping to make a one stop strategy work but was forced to pit again, which proved advantageous later in the race. Into the last 20 laps or so, Rosberg was holding on to his lead ahead of Force India’s one-stopping Sergio Perez, and the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Vettel. Hamilton had been forced to retire on lap 56 due to brake failure, after running wide at the hairpin and cutting chicanes. Ricciardo was ever looming in Perez’s mirrors and the Red Bull driver eventually made a pass and started bearing down on Rosberg. It wasn’t long before Vettel got past too and Perez was left as a sitting duck for pacy Massa who, on much fresher tyres, had pumped in the lap-times and closed onto the back of the battle for second, third and fourth. On the final lap, Perez and Massa had a coming together, which resulted in them both hitting the barriers at high forces – 27G- and being taken to the medical centre for assessments. It was later judged that Perez had moved off his racing line so was given a five place grid penalty for Austria.

As an estactic Ricciardo crossed the line to take his maiden F1 victory – behind the Safety Car – a relieved Rosberg finished second with Vettel in third. Behind them was Jenson Button, who had had a fun last few laps, catching and passing both Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso who finished fifth and sixth respectively. Jean-Eric Vergne came home in eighth with Kevin Magnussen ninth and Kimi Raikkonen tenth. Perez and Massa were classified eleventh and twelfth, ahead of both Saubers who were classified with Adrian Sutil ahead of Esteban Gutierrez. Retirements from the race, along with the Marussia duo and Hamilton, were Marcus Ericsson with a turbo problem, Pastor Maldonado with a power unit problem, Kamui Kobayashi with rear suspension damage, Daniil Kvyat with a broken drive train, and Romain Grosjean with a broken rear wing.

The result let Rosberg extend his gap in the championship over Hamilton to 22 points, with Ricciardo moving into third 39 points back. In the constructors, Red Bull made small gains into Mercedes’ lead, but the Silver Arrows still lead by a significant 119 points. The next race is Austria, with a return to the Red Bull Ring, in two weeks time.

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