MONTREAL, (Reuters) – Red Bull’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel won the Canadian Grand Prix yesterday to capture his first Formula One victory on North American soil and extend his overall lead in the championship to 36 points.
The 25-year-old German cruised to his 29th career win without resistance, taking the chequered flag 14.4 seconds clear of Spain’s Fernando Alonso, driving a Ferrari.
Briton’s Lewis Hamilton, who had won in Montreal three times before, made it a podium of champions by finishing third for Mercedes after being passed by Alonso seven laps from the end.
“It was a great race and I had a great start which was important,” Vettel said.
“Finally we got our first win, it’s off the list now and it was great to win.”
Vettel’s Australian team mate Mark Webber came fourth, and set the fastest lap, after his front wing was damaged when he collided with Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg, winner of the previous race in Monaco for Mercedes, crossed the line fifth.
Vettel’s win was his third from seven races this season while Alonso roared from sixth to second to leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen into second-place overall.
“I think second tastes of victory, because we scored some good points after a very difficult weekend,” said the Spaniard.
Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, finished ninth in his Lotus to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 successive grands prix in the points.
Despite his domination of the sport in recent years, Vettel had never won in either Canada or the United States before breaking his drought in emphatic fashion yesterday – even if he skimmed the wall at one point and overran a turn when was comfortably ahead.
“It was a wake up call for him because when you are so far ahead it is easy to lose concentration but it it was flat out from everyone from start to finish today, and that’s how it should be,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Vettel made a clean getaway from pole position and led for almost the entire 70-laps in a virtual procession. The only time he was not in front was for three laps when he made the first of his two pit stops to get fresh tyres and Hamilton briefly took over.
Vettel lapped half the field, including Raikkonen, before reaching the half way point of the race and only five cars finished on the lead lap at a Montreal street circuit bathed in sunshine after two days of rain.
McLaren failed to score, at a track where they have won four times in the last five years, for the first time in 65 races.
Former champions Williams also ended up empty-handed, despite Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas starting third on the grid, for the eighth race in a row.
Vettel now has 132 points, ahead of Alonso (96), Raikkonen (88), Hamilton (77) and Webber (69).
“The sun came out as well so it doesn’t get any better,” said Vettel.
“We had good races here before but it didn’t come together to win, then I lost it in the last lap two years ago which was my fault but I made up for that today.”