Hamilton wins Canadian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton figures Red Bull has a slight speed advantage.

The McLaren star also knows there’s a lot more to winning than just

going fast.

“In terms of pure pace, I still think the Red Bull car is still

a little bit faster than ours,” Hamilton said Sunday after winning

the Canadian Grand Prix for his second straight Formula 1 victory.

“But, as a whole, I think our package is now stronger.”

Hamilton and McLaren got everything right over the weekend,

leaving strategy-challenged Red Bull behind at sunny Circuit Gilles

Villeneuve.

“Going forward, we need to build on the progress we’ve made

recently, and we’re going to do just that,” Hamilton said. “We’ll

now knuckle down and make a really big effort to increase that gap.

We’ve got good momentum.”

Hamilton held off teammate Jenson Button in F1’s return to

Montreal after a one-year break to take the season points lead from

Red Bull’s Mark Webber.

“I’m so glad Formula One returned to Canada,” Hamilton said.

“The fans here are incredible. It’s almost unbelievable how

passionate they are about Formula One. I had my debut win here in

2007, so this track will always have a special place in my

heart.”

Hamilton and Button also finished 1-2 two weeks ago in Turkey

after Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel made contract with teammate

Webber while racing for the lead.

“Lewis and Jenson did indeed do a fantastic job,” McLaren team

principal Martin Whitmarsh said. “They drove with controlled

aggression when it was needed, tempered by patience and discipline

when those qualities were required.”

Button, a two-time winner this season after taking the season

title last year for Brawn GP, finished 2.2 seconds back in the race

run without a full-course caution on the demanding 2.71-mile Ile

Notre-Dame track.

“It was a really fun race,” Button said. “It was very

difficult to judge when to push with the tires. I think I kicked it

in a bit early on the last stint.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was third, followed by Vettel, Webber,

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Renault’s Robert Kubica, the 2008

Montreal winner.

Michael Schumacher, the seven-time F1 champion and also a

seven-time Montreal winner, finished 11th for Mercedes after

starting 13th.

“The first stop was perfectly timed, so it was looking quite

promising,” Schumacher said. “Then I had a puncture on the front

right tire … after I got together with Kubica, and that obviously

decided my race. From there, I was stuck in traffic and there was

nothing more to do because today our weapons were not very

sharp.”

Hamilton started from the pole en route to his 13th career

victory after gambling on Bridgestone’s faster super-soft compound

tires in qualifying Saturday.

With the top 10 starters required to start Sunday on the tires

they used in the final qualifying segment, Webber seemingly had the

early advantage after taking the second spot on the more durable

medium-compound tires. But the Australian was dropped from second

to seventh on the starting grid because of a gearbox change.

Webber took the lead after the other front-runners made their

second and last stops, but gave up considerable time on his visibly

worn tires. He didn’t pit until just after Hamilton moved ahead

again on the 50th of 70 laps.

“Tires played a huge role in the race and, in the end, we did

the best we could,” Webber said. “I was trying to keep my pace

constant, but, in the end, the tires didn’t want that pace and they

go away from you.”

Hamilton and McLaren managed their tires and pit stops

perfectly.

“It was difficult to know how much to save your tires and how

much to push,” Hamilton said. “It was very, very

challenging.”

Hamilton gave up the lead on the seventh lap to switch to the

medium-compound tire.

Webber pitted for the first time on the 14th lap, electing to

stay with the medium compound, and had little tread left when he

hit the pits again 36 laps later.

Hamilton made his final stop on the 26th lap, putting on another

set of medium-compound tires. He rejoined the race in fifth,

quickly worked his way to second and patiently reeled in Webber –

more than 11 seconds ahead at the halfway mark.

“I really just tried to maintain the correct balance … and

get through traffic,” Hamilton said. “It was very tricky, but we

managed to deal with it.”

Hamilton has 109 championship points through eight of 19 races,

giving him a three-point lead over Button and six-point advantage

over Webber. In the constructors’ standings, McLaren has a 215-193

advantage over Red Bull.