Formula One

Ricciardo beats Rosberg in drama-laden Canadian GP

Daniel Ricciardo claimed his first ever victory in Formula One, beating Nico Rosberg to the chequered flag in what was a difficult afternoon for Mercedes.

Rosberg held off the challenge of Sebastian Vettel to secure second, whilst team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s title chances were dealt a blow as he retired with brake failure.

McLaren’s Jenson Button finished in a superb fourth in a race which ended behind the safety car following a huge crash involving Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez.

Mercedes missed the chance to create history of six consecutive one-two finishes, with both Silver Arrows suffering from a loss of power half way through the race.

It was Hamilton who got the better start of the Mercedes, who squeezed each other into turn one. The near contact forced Hamilton to back out, running slightly wide and allowing Vettel through in the process.

The Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa maintained position in fourth and fifth, whilst at the back the Marussia of Max Chilton collided with team-mate Jules Bianchi, sending both cars into the barriers and scattering debris across the track. The significant damage forced both drivers out of the race and resulted in a safety car after a single lap.

With the safety car back in on lap seven, it took Hamilton just three laps to put a crucial DRS assisted pass on reigning World Champion Vettel, as he set about reducing the gap to race leader Rosberg.

Rosberg who pulled away following the restart, had a lucky escape as he ran wide on the exit of turn three, narrowly avoiding a skirmish with the barriers as he frantically corrected a slide.

By lap 25 Hamilton had closed the lead down to under a second and looked set to make a move when Rosberg locked up heading into the chicane, before running wide and re-joining in the lead. Although appearing to have gained an advantage when cutting the chicane, the German driver received only a warning as Hamilton chased him once more.

With Mercedes looking comfortable a full 28 seconds ahead of third place, Hamilton came across the radio on lap 37 to report that he had “lost power”.  A worrying situation for the Silver Arrows soon became reality for both cars who dramatically lost speed.

With those behind reducing the deficit at a staggering pace, both Mercedes came in for their second pit stops a lap apart. Hamilton benefited from a quicker stop to slot in behind new race leader Massa and crucially ahead of Rosberg in second place.

When the top three headed into the hairpin Hamilton out-braked himself, handing Rosberg second as the limping Mercedes duo touched into the final chicane. This forced Hamilton to cut the corner before an off at turn six signalled the end of the 2008 World Champion’s race with brake failure.

Rosberg evaded his team-mate’s troubles, but continued to struggle with the permanent loss of his MGU-K drive as Perez, Ricciardo, Vettel and Massa all hunted him down.

Despite starting sixth on the grid and having a quiet first stint of the race, Ricciardo found himself in fourth following his Red Bull team-mate’s pit stop. Massa’s second stop and a brave overtake on Perez with five laps to go brought the Australian right into contention, as he closed dramatically on Rosberg.

The man in first had done an impressive job thus far, but was powerless to defend from Ricciardo who breezed past the Mercedes driver on the penultimate lap.

A few seconds down the road, the battle for the final podium place intensified. Vettel headed the fight as a result of overtaking the now struggling Perez, bringing the Williams of Massa right onto his gearbox.

Heading into turn one and Massa attempted a move on the much slower Perez, which resulted in contact. The Brazilian caught the rear of the Force India sending both drivers hurtling towards the barriers in dramatic style.

The frightening crash saw a lucky escape for Vettel, who narrowly avoided being collected by the out of control Williams.

Both drivers walked away from the carnage and were taken for precautionary medical checks before later being discharged. The stewards have since deemed Perez responsible for the incident, handing the Mexican a five place grid penalty for the next event.

With the safety car out for the final lap, Daniel Ricciardo was confirmed as the much deserved victor, ending Mercedes’ 100% winning start to 2014. Ricciardo asked over the radio about the wellbeing of Massa and Perez before celebrating – but on hearing of their safety, the popular Australian was overjoyed.

After his stunning drive, the 24 year old labelled his maiden F1 win as “surreal”. “I pictured myself as a kid standing up on top of the podium and when you’re up there it feels a bit weird,” he continued.

“It’s not that we were leading the whole race, so it’s not that I had time to understand that I was going to win.

“It all happened in the last few laps, so I think that’s why it’s still taking a while to comprehend in my head.

“But really nice, a really good feeling. The race came to life at the end. Mercedes had their issues and it enabled us to close on them.”

Further down the road Nico Hulkenberg continued his brilliant start to the season, holding off the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in fifth.

Bottas came home in seventh place, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, Kevin Magnussen and Kimi Raikkonen who collected the last of the points in 10th as eight cars failed to finish.

Most notably was that of Lewis Hamilton, who endured a disastrous Canadian Grand Prix losing valuable points with his second DNF of the season.

The Brit will be looking to bounce back for the return to the calendar of the Austrian Grand Prix on June 22nd, as Nico Rosberg heads to the newly developed Red Bull Ring with a lead of 22 points.

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