Canadian F1 Grand Prix

The scintillating on-track action at the 2014 Canadian GP has certainly heated up the Great White North, that’s for sure. And this time, there’s a new face on the top step of the podium in the shape of Red Bull‘s Daniel Ricciardo, after electrical problems cost the Mercedes AMG Petronas team a chance of a 1-2 finish.

With pole-sitter Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton far ahead fighting for the lead (the former narrowly avoiding a trip to the wall), the race looked set to follow the six previous race wins and five back-to-back 1-2 finishes, but then as soon as that the team’s luck changed dramatically, with the Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) packing up on both cars on lap 37.

This meant that both drivers were not only running on internal combustion power alone (and about 160 hp down from the rest), but also that there was no kinetic energy recuperation to help slow the cars down. Along with the high speeds and deep braking zones of the track as well as the smaller rear brakes used this year to save weight, it left Hamilton with catastrophic brake failure on lap 47 and his second retirement of the season.

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With Hamilton out, Rosberg was left at the mercy of the rest of the pack, which were fast approaching. Amazingly, the entire world then watched in disbelief as Rosberg held onto his lead right up to the closing stages, with the next challenger, Force India‘s Sergio Perez, struggling with worn tyres and brakes, unable to capitalise on this strange opportunity.

Ricciardo and his teammate and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, just could not pass the Mexican. On lap 66, the Australian finally overtook Perez and with that done, his move on Rosberg on the back straight two laps later was little more than a formality. Further afield, Vettel swooped past Perez a lap later, and as the 70th and final lap began, it looked like Williams’ Felipe Massa was about to do the same.

But on the main straight leading up to the first chicane, Perez veered left directly into Massa’s way as the latter was about to steam through under braking. The two collided, sending both straight into the wall at high speeds, narrowly missing the helpless Vettel. Thankfully, both drivers emerged unscathed, although they were later taken to the medical centre for screening.

The incident triggered the deployment of the safety car, so all Ricciardo had to do was cruise up to the chequered flag. His first win is only the fourth ever for an Australian, after Jack Brabham (who passed away just three weeks earlier), Alan Jones and his predecessor at Red Bull Mark Webber.

Rosberg’s second place finish and Hamilton’s retirement sees the German stretch his lead over the Briton to 22 points, with a grand total of 140 points so far. Ricciardo’s massive points haul today slots him into third with 79 points, still well behind the Mercedes drivers, but ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who finished a dismal sixth and has only 69 points to his name. Vettel is next up with 60 points.

Mercedes’ misfortunes sees their lead over Red Bull in the constructor’s championship whittled down to a still almost unassailable 119 points, toting up 258 points in total. Ferrari languishes in third place with 87 points, 52 behind Red Bull, while Force India (77) and McLaren (66) complete the top five. The circus will move in a couple of weeks to the Red Bull Ring (née A1-Ring) in Austria for the first time since 2003.