Montreal: Mercedes arrived at the Canadian Grand Prix without the correct tyres or an expected engine upgrade and left Montreal trailing in the Formula One championship standings.
Ferrari returned to the top of the podium at the track named for Gilles Villeneuve for the first time since 2004, with Sebastian Vettel going from the pole to the checkered flag — which was incorrectly waved a lap early — to finish six seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes on Sunday. Erstwhile points leader Lewis Hamilton, who was aiming for a record-tying seventh victory in Montreal, struggled to finish fifth and fell one point behind Vettel in the standings.
“I’m the opposite of confident,” Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said. “I think this is a major wake-up call for every member of the team. Everybody needs to assess how to improve performance. Those marginal gains are going to make all the difference.
Asked after the race if he felt any consolation in seeing Hamilton’s teammate Finn Valtteri Bottas come home second, Wolff said: “No, not at all.
“It is a strong track for us, but all weekend long we have made little mistakes, from the start. The only feeling I have is that we have to wake up.
“We fell behind in every respect. This is a track where we should have maximised points — it is not about damage limitation for us.”
He added that there was now a need for a thorough review of the race to see what had gone wrong and if there were to be any consequences in the team.
“Yes, that’s necessary,” he said. “We will look at that internally.”
Despite having the championship leader and the three-time defending Montreal champion, Mercedes leave Canada second-guessing their strategy to bring fewer sets of the softest tires to the track, a move that Wolff conceded left Hamilton and Bottas at a disadvantage in qualifying. The team also was unable to deliver a reliable engine upgrade in time for the race.
Without it, Hamilton found himself losing power even up until the end. Adding to his problems was a cooling issue that required an early pit.
“From the start I was down on power and my engine was overheating. I couldn’t get the temperatures down, so I just thought it was going to fail,” he said. “Every single lap I was waiting for the power to just drop away and disappear, but it kept going.”
Vettel was never really challenged, picking up his third victory of the season and 25 points to erase Hamilton’s 14-point lead” the Briton salvaged 10 points with his worst result of the year. Bottas finished second for the fourth time in seven races.
“It was a tough day in the office today, but I’m just very grateful that I finished today’s race and score some points,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure in the next couple of days it will get more and more painful. But it could get a lot worse. I could have had a DNF (did not finish). I’m just grateful the engine made it.”
Hamilton said he would never doubt the team’s ability to fix its problems.
“That would be the first sign of weakness, and my mind is not weak,” he said. “I have complete confidence in my guys, and I’m putting all my energy toward them.
“We all know they (Ferrari) have generally had a slightly better package all round, they’ve been doing a slightly better job so we’ve got to do more.
“We’ve got to keep working, which I know the guys are. And I think we just need to stay positive.”
1. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 121 pts, 2. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 120, 3. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 86, 4. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 84, 5. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 68, 6. Max Verstappen (NED) 50, 7. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 32, 8. Nico H|lkenberg (GER) 32, 9. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 24, 10. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 19, 11. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 18, 12. Sergio Pirez (MEX) 17, 13. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 11, 14. Charles Leclerc (MON) 10, 15. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) 8, 16. Lance Stroll (CAN) 4,
17. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) 2, 18. Brendon Hartley (NZL) 1
1. Mercedes 206 pts, 2. Ferrari 189, 3. Red Bull 134, 4. Renault 56, 5. McLaren-Renault 40, 6. Force India 28, 7. Toro Rosso-Honda 19
8. Haas 19, 9. Sauber 12, 10. Williams 4