Lewis Hamilton wins Canadian GP after Vettel re-entry penalty

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain crosses the finish line to win the Canadian Grand Prix. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

MONTREAL — Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel feels like an over-regulated Formula One unfairly cost him victory at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel crossed the finish line first ahead of rival Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes but a five-second penalty for unsafe re-entry during the race dropped the German into second place.

Hamilton finished 1.342 seconds behind Vettel but still claimed a seventh straight win of the season for Mercedes.

"For me, the old Formula One drivers and the people in the grandstand would agree that’s just part of racing," said Vettel, who won the Canadian Grand Prix last year. "Nowadays, I don’t like it. We all sound a bit like lawyers using the official language. It gives no edge to the sport. Ultimately, it’s not the sport I fell in love with.

"Obviously it hurts me today, because it impacts my result, but it’s bigger than that. The way we are doing things now is wrong. We have regulations for everything."

Vettel started from pole position and was still in the lead when his race took a turn for the worse in the 48th lap.

The German made a mistake on turn four when he lost control of his car and drove onto the grass. When he returned to the track, he blocked Hamilton from passing and the British driver was forced to slam on the brakes.

"I came through the corner and was quicker at that point and I was trying to apply pressure," said Hamilton. "It’s not too often you’re able to push a four-time world champion into an error, but it came. I continued the corner, was on the line and the gap closed. It looked like we were going to crash so I braked to avoid a collision. That was the one window."

The stewards reviewed the incident and imposed a five-second penalty on Vettel because he "re-joined unsafely and forced another car off track."

"When I was coming back on the track I was just trying to make sure I had the car under control," said Vettel, whose last win was in last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. "Obviously I knew Lewis was somewhere behind me. When I looked in the mirror, he was right there.

"I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong. I don’t think I could have done anything different."

When Vettel found out about the penalty, he tried to put together a five-second lead in order to claim victory but Hamilton was all over the Ferrari.

Hamilton claimed his seventh career win on the 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, tying Michael Schumacher’s record in Montreal. Hamilton’s first-ever Grand Prix win was on this track in 2007.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc of Monaco came in third ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas of Finland.

Hamilton bolstered his lead atop the drivers standings, now 29 points ahead of Bottas. Meanwhile Mercedes jumped to a seemingly insurmountable 123-point advantage over Ferrari in the constructor’s championship with 14 races left this year.

Some fans booed Hamilton after the podium ceremony and trophy presentation.

"Ultimately it was a really great race between two teams and it ended on a negative," said Hamilton. "It feels like a deflated win, naturally. Hopefully by 2021 they redesign the rules better to enable us to race better than today."

Canadian Lance Stroll finished ninth for the third time this season after starting the race in 17th place.

Stroll put together one of his best races of his young Formula One career. The 20-year-old earned two points — his fifth and sixth of the season — after starting fourth from the back.

The hometown driver gained three spots after an incredible start to the race and kept overtaking drivers throughout, including teammate Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz. Stroll also finished ninth in Australia and Azerbaijan this year.

"It was a good race," said Stroll, who remains 16th in the drivers’ standings. "The car was performing much better today. Good overtakes, good start, great pace. We had to take that medium tire long into the race. That was key to our strategy today.

"Overtaking cars at home is the best feeling."

The race was redemption for Stroll, who had a difficult weekend. The Montreal native failed to make it past the first round of qualifying on Saturday afternoon, just a few hours after he was forced to retire from a practice session when the back of his car erupted in flames due to a hydraulic fluid leak.

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