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Lewis Hamilton rues ‘one of the worst races’ of his F1 career as missed opportunity for Mercedes

Sir Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton was dejected after the race because he knew Mercedes had blown a realistic chance of victory given the conditions - Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton described Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix as one of the “worst races of his career” while team-mate George Russell apologised to Mercedes for an “ugly race” despite both drivers achieving their best results of the season.

Russell finished third in Montreal – Mercedes’ first podium of the season – and Hamilton fourth, at the end of a chaotic, madcap, rain-soaked grand prix in Montreal won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The Brackley team clearly took a giant leap forward in terms of their competitiveness in Canada, but the fact that both drivers were so despondent afterwards was interesting given the strides made by the team.

Russell, who started a race from pole for the first time in nearly two years, described it as a “missed opportunity” and looked crestfallen at the finish. He was already apologising to his team on his warm-down lap. “Ugly race on my behalf,” he said. “Sorry for that. I’m very sorry for that.”

Russell later said he felt he could have fought for victory had he not tangled with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri while trying to pass the Australian following the withdrawal of a late safety car, a mistake which allowed Hamilton to briefly get ahead of him.

Hamilton, meanwhile, described his performance across the weekend as “really poor”. The seven-time world champion qualified seventh on Saturday, despite having topped final practice. And while he managed to move up three places on Sunday, he was disappointed with the number of errors made overall.

Canadian Grand Prix
George Russell leads Max Verstappen during the race - Getty Images/Mark Thompson

“Some other things came into it yesterday, but mostly myself. And then today, just one of the worst races that I’ve driven. Just lots of mistakes.

“But of course, if I’d qualified better I’d have been in a much better position. So it is what it is.”

In fairness to the two Mercedes drivers, it was one of those races when it was virtually impossible not to make mistakes.

Lando Norris, who eventually finished second, also felt he could have won. The McLaren driver twice led the race as conditions fluctuated between wet and dry but was unfortunate with the timing of a mid-race safety car when he was on top.

It was a wonderful race from a neutral’s perspective – one of those which makes you wonder about that madcap suggestion from Bernie Ecclestone all those years ago to introduce a sprinkler system to spice up dull races. There was so much action it was difficult to keep up.

With the race starting on a drenched Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but with the rain having temporarily ceased, the strategists had to earn their corn.

Haas decided to start both their cars on full wet tyres and initially reaped the rewards, with Kevin Magnussen surging from 14th to fourth in just three laps before the rest of the field, on intermediate tyres, came back.

All the frontrunners had their moments. Norris was the fastest on the inters, overtaking first Verstappen and pole sitter Russell on consecutive laps to snatch the race lead on lap 21, only to lose it again after Williams’ Logan Sargeant crashed on lap 25, bringing out the first safety car of the day.

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris in Canada
Verstappen started in second but held off the two Britons at the flag - Getty Images/Mark Thompson

Norris pitted a lap later than the cars behind him but picked up the safety car, coming out in third, just ahead of team-mate Piastri.

“What goes around, comes around. That’s Miami back,” observed Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, a reference to the safety car which helped Norris to his maiden Formula One win in Miami last month, at Verstappen’s expense.

Norris later led again, briefly. When the leaders all pitted to switch to slicks on a drying track, the McLaren driver again stayed out an extra lap, trying for an “overcut”. It sort of worked. Norris emerged from his stop in the lead, once again ahead of Verstappen and Russell, only to slip on the wet exit from the pitlane, dropping behind Verstappen again.

Russell retook second place two laps later as Norris struggled to get his new mediums up to temperature. But then he lost it again as he made a mistake.

In the end, Verstappen won again. When it really mattered, the Dutchman produced a champion’s drive, pulling away from the field following a second safety car period, brought about when Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz lost control, taking out the second Williams of Alex Albon.

It completed a miserable weekend for Ferrari, for whom Charles Leclerc had already retired following an engine issue and then a wild gamble on slicks when the track was nowhere near ready for them.

Verstappen does not seem to make such mistakes. This was the Dutchman’s sixth win in nine races this year, extending his lead in the drivers’ championship to 56 points over Leclerc, with Norris a further seven points behind.

Verstappen’s performance was all the more impressive given his teammate’s struggles. After his Monaco misery, Sergio Pérez endured another terrible weekend, failing to make it into Q2 (again) on Saturday, before retiring (again) on Sunday, this time after spinning his car into the barriers. it was not the way he would have wanted to celebrate his new contract extension.

Verstappen may look good for a fourth consecutive drivers’ crown, barring accident or misfortune. But the constructors’ championship will be wide open if Perez continues to drive like this.

Either way, neutrals can look forward to plenty of action this season if the current convergence continues. Even Mercedes are getting in on the act now. “I think this weekend, the car was capable of winning,” Hamilton reflected. “That’s why it is not such a great feeling. But we will take the points and keep trying.”


Drying track creates best Grand Prix of the season – as it happened


08:59 PM BST

George Russell

“It feels like a missed opportunity to be honest. Made a couple of mistakes. We put the mediums on at the end and were really fast, I made a little mistake trying to go past Oscar. Hard, fair racing.”


08:57 PM BST

Lando Norris

“Wild race, chaos, eventful. I feel like I drove a good race. Safety car helped me in Miami but held me back here. These conditions make it so stressful inside the car. I was in the lead by ten or 12 seconds, pulling away. But it’s Montreal, something has to come into play. Fair play to Max, he drove a good race and made no mistakes.”


08:55 PM BST

Max Verstappen speaks to Sky

“Crazy race, lot of things were happening. We pitted at the right time. The safety car worked out well for us. These sort of races, you need them once in a while. Hard race but a lot of fun.”


08:53 PM BST

Your winner

Max Verstappen wins third straight Canadian Grand Prix for his 60th Formula 1 victory and sixth in nine races this year.


08:49 PM BST

Max Verstappen wins the Canadian Grand Prix

Lando Norris is second, and it’s George Russell in third, with honourable mention to Lewis Hamilton who has made up a few places to finish in fourth. Piastri is fifth.

Did the safety car do for Lando Norris’s chances?


08:48 PM BST

Final lap

It’s Verstappen, Norris and then Russell.


08:47 PM BST

Lap 69

Lewis Hamilton is having a good battle with George Russell - it’s an intergenerational Brit match up as they duel for third.


08:41 PM BST

Lap 64

Verstappen, Norris, Piastri, Hamilton, Russell is your 1-5.


08:40 PM BST

Lap 63

It is Verstappen, Norris, Piastri, with Russell in fourth. Down the straight, Piastri doesn’t have DRS but he does have the inside line. Russell tries to pass him, they touch... Piastri holds him off and, worse for Russell, he now sees Hamilton go past him


08:35 PM BST

Lap 59

Verstappen is leading but the question for him is if his tyres last the final 11 laps or do the guys behind him, Norris and Piastri, have the advantage on that score.


08:34 PM BST

Lap 58

Sainz also out. He says on his radio: “Yeah, sorry for that. I lost control, so I couldn’t do anything.”


08:29 PM BST

Lap 56

And now Sergio Perez has control of his car and he’s hit a barrier. That is the end of his evening.


08:26 PM BST

The safety car is out again

Alex Albon and Carlos Sainz tangle. It ends with the Williams driver stopping and getting out. Not in a road rage type way I mean. He’s not set about him with a tyre iron.


08:21 PM BST

Lap 51

Verstappen is in the lead, Norris second and Russell is third.

Verstappen has the fastest lap of the race.


08:18 PM BST

Lap 50

George Russell, using DRS, has gone past Norris into second place.

Meanwhile, Hamilton has come off the track and has lost time.


08:16 PM BST

Lap 48

The lead changes hand twice in two seconds between Verstappen and Norris - and it is MV who wins out.


08:14 PM BST

Lap 47

Norris is in hot water for that business at turn one a minute ago, he left the track and came back in rather neatly.

The stewards will take a view because Russell says he was impeded.


08:09 PM BST

Leclerc is out of the race

That’s that.


08:08 PM BST

Lap 42

Norris has a wobble at turn one and has lost ground on Russell.


08:07 PM BST

Lap 41

Yellow flag is out.

It’s Verstappen, Russell, Norris, Piastri, Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton is going well, quick lap there.


08:06 PM BST

Verstappen going past Russell

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15
Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 - Getty

08:03 PM BST

‘Fascinating and fun’

Absolutely fascinating race. Verstappen predicted yesterday that it would be fun with the tyres and the changeable conditions and so it is proving. Norris unfortunate with the timing of the safety car but he benefited from it to win in Miami.


08:00 PM BST

Lap 37

Verstappen makes good use of the safety car and is now ahead of George Russell.


07:59 PM BST

Moly


07:53 PM BST

Lap 32

Norris stayed out for one more lap than Verstappen, Russell and his team-mate Piastri. He thus pitted later and it’s Verstappen who is in the lead now. Safety car over.


07:48 PM BST

Charles Leclerc

with a slow pit stop. Is he going to retire? He is battling an engine issue.


07:47 PM BST

Pit drama

Russell and Verstappen pit at the same time and the Brit nearly goes past him in the pit lane.


07:46 PM BST

Lap 28

Lots of people pitting (more rain ahoy) but Norris not. However, it looks like Norris has picked up the safety car. 

Safety car

1. Max Verstappen

2. George Russell

3. Lando Norris

4, Oscar Piastri

5. Lewis Hamilton

6. Fernando Alonso

7. Yuki Tsunoda

8. Lance Stroll

9. Esteban Ocon

10. Daniel Ricciardo


07:41 PM BST

Lap 25

The yellow flags are out because Sargeant has lost control of his vehicle and is sitting impotently in the middle of the track.


07:39 PM BST

And now Norris passes Russell!

Lando Norris is going great guns in his McLaren, they reach the straight and he has gone past George Russell.

And seconds later, it is bad to worse: Max Verstappen has nipped in to second after the chicane.

Alex Brundle on BBC Radio: “Lightning reactions from Max Verstappen as George Russell was forced across the chicane of Turns 13 and 14, comes back to the race track and straight back to the racing line, forcing Verstappen to cut to the inside.”


07:34 PM BST

Lap 21

Norris has booked the fastest lap, and he has gone past Max V.


07:31 PM BST

We are about to get a shower

Verstappen lurks, waiting to pounce.


07:24 PM BST

Lap 14

Ricciardo has been penalised five seconds because he did a false start. He’s in seventh. Nice little boost for Jacques V then,


07:23 PM BST

Lap 13

Russell is still in the lead, Verstappen is second and Lando Norris is the man in third.


07:22 PM BST

Lap 8

Albeit that his pit crew did him no favours with the change there


07:16 PM BST

Magnussen has gone onto the inter tyres


07:14 PM BST

Lap seven

Nico Hulkenberg has also got the wet weather tyres on and he’s the other man making moves.

But Russell still solid at the front with Max V lurking behind.


07:13 PM BST

Leclerc not looking good

Team radio Engineer: “We are seeing something strange engine side. We are looking at it. Keep pushing.”


07:12 PM BST

Magnussen on the move


07:09 PM BST

Lap four

Magnussen has gone for the wet tyres and it looks the right choice, he is moving better than most and he is now into fourth.


07:08 PM BST

Lap three

Max Verstappen was sniffing there at the start but Russell held him at bay.

Lewis Hamilton has gone past Ricciardo.


07:06 PM BST

Rainy day


07:04 PM BST

Someone has come off at turn one

....


07:04 PM BST

The lights are out

And away we go. Russell is very ginger as he gets away but he gets away in front of his rivals. It looks already like the drivers are struggling for grip.


07:00 PM BST

The drivers are doing the formation lap

There’s a lot of water on the track.


06:47 PM BST

Anthem time

from an unusual looking duo.


06:39 PM BST

Martin Brundle

is doing his grid walk for Sky. No embarrassing celebrity “who are you?” moments as yet.


06:34 PM BST

Here is Lewis on his struggles in quali

“The car was feeling great all weekend but as soon as I got to qualifying that kind of vanished for me,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.

“The grip just disappeared from me, so FP3 I had plenty of pace in me and then get to qualifying and the tyres don’t work, and nothing changed on the car.”


06:25 PM BST

Russell speaks about conditions

“It’s going to be a tough race for everybody, to be honest,” he said. “(Tyre) graining seems to be an issue. And this new track surface, nobody really knows how it’s going to pan out. But we’ve got to go for victory.

“The car is genuinely really, really fast at the moment. But it’s going to be a long race, I think. As soon as you fall off that cliff of the tyres, it’s going to be really difficult to recover. So, yeah, it could be a bit of a strategic game. Maybe not as extreme as we saw in Monaco last week, but maybe something similar.”


06:24 PM BST

Lewis in his rainwear + sunglasses

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton - Getty

06:17 PM BST

Ferrari update

After their Monaco high Ferrari were coming to grips with a Montreal flop after both cars slumped out of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, missing an opportunity to pile more pressure on championship leading Red Bull.

Riding the momentum from Charles Leclerc’s Monaco victory two weeks ago and a third place from Carlos Sainz, Ferrari arrived in Montreal favoured by many to make it two wins in a row.

But that appears unlikely now after a miserable qualifying effort in which both cars failed to advance to the last 10 shootout for pole position with Leclerc starting tonight’s race well back in 11th with Sainz alongside in 12th.

Locked in a tight battle with Red Bull for top spot in the Constructors standings, Ferrari may have blown a golden opportunity to cut in to their rival’s 24-point lead.

While championship leader Max Verstappen will start on the front row alongside Mercedes pole sitter George Russell, his Mexican team mate Sergio Perez lines 16th on the grid unable to get out of the first qualifying phase.

“We have to review this qualifying session and FP3 (free practice three), as we simply weren’t at the level we need to be,” lamented Leclerc, who is also hoping to close the gap on Verstappen in the driver standings with a good result at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. “Tyre management will play a big role in the race so we have to focus on that and will push to gain positions tomorrow.

“With mixed weather conditions, there may be some opportunities coming our way and we must be ready to make the most of them.”


06:15 PM BST

The man on pole


06:14 PM BST

Racing


05:13 PM BST

Canada Grand Prix coming up

Hello, good evening, thank you for joining us for our live blog of the Canada Grand Prix. Action comes from the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Notre Dame Island in Montreal, Quebec and the race begins at 7pm UK time. For British fans, considerable excitement because George Russell is on pole, although Max Verstappen is still odds-on to win. If George can do it, it will be his second win in a Grand Prix; he crossed the line first in Sao Paulo in 2022.

Both Russell and Verstappen posted qualifying times of 1:12.000, a rare dead heat but Russell gets the honour because he posted set his time on his first run in Q3.  Verstappen could only match Russell’s time on his second run.

It is raining in Montreal so we will keep a keen eye on that and how conditions might affect tactics.

There has been an enjoyable bust-up this week between Daniel Ricciardo and former champ Jacques Villeneuve. The Canadian driver, who won the world title in 1997, suggested Ricciardo should no longer be in Formula 1.

Ricciardo made a statement on the track by qualifying fifth for Red Bull junior team RB, then took aim at Villeneuve.

“I still don’t know what he said, but I heard he’s been talking ..., but he always does,” Ricciardo said. “I think he’s hit his head a few too many times, I don’t know if he plays ice hockey or something.”

Villeneuve, the son of racing great Gilles Villeneuve, ranted about Ricciardo in a Sky Sports television broadcast.

“Why is he still in F1?” Villeneuve said. “We’re hearing the same thing now for the last four, five years — we have to make it better for him, poor him. It’s been five years of that. Sorry, no, you’re in F1.

“Maybe you make that effort for Lewis Hamilton, who’s won multiple championships. You don’t make that effort for a driver that can’t cut it. Can’t cut it? Go home, there’s someone else who can take your place.”

Ricciardo won the last of his eight career F1 victories in 2021. The 34-year-old Australian raced to his first F1 victory 10 years ago in Montreal.

“I’ve, obviously, been highly motivated to do more than I have been this year,” Ricciardo said. “I know how good those results feel, and that’s why I do it, to feel those highs.

“Coming into the week everything felt right. I was really happy to come back to this circuit and drive here because I love it. Today’s 10 years to the day of my first win, and that day changed my life. So there’s just a lot of nice emotions coming into it.”

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