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Crash in pits leaves top contenders on sidelines at Canadian GP

Crash in pits leaves top contenders on sidelines at Canadian GP

Lewis Hamilton did his best to be philosophical after making one of the worst mistakes of his budding Formula One career.
Hamilton smashed into the rear of the stopped Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen on pit road early in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, then got hit from behind by Nico Rosberg. The accident ended the racing day for both Hamilton and Raikkonen and wound up knocking Hamilton out of the points lead when Robert Kubica won his first Grand Prix.
Both Hamilton, the defending race winner who had been leading by 6 seconds before the pit stop, and Rosberg were penalized by the Stewards. Both will lose 10 grid positions for the start of the French Grand Prix on June 22.
"It's just unfortunate when stuff like that happens, but I have no argument with the stewards," the 23-year-old Englishman said. "We'd looked so strong for the whole weekend, though, so at least we can leave Montreal confident that we have a package that will enable us to fight for the world championship from here on in."
Team boss Ron Dennis called it a racing accident and didn't appear to be too upset with Hamilton.
"The fact is that we had the pace and therefore the capability to win ... is encouraging," Dennis said. "The collision that eliminated Lewis was just one of those things. No racing deriver would deliberately take himself out of a grand prix, and the plain fact is that Lewis didn't realize that the cars in front of him were coming to a halt until it was too late.
"It's difficult for a driver to decide whether to focus on the lights or the cars ahead in situations like that," he added. "Having said that, we accept the steward' decision."
Raikkonen was calm after the race.
"I am not angry because that doesn't achieve anything and does not change my result," the reigning world champion said. "I an unhappy because I had a great chance of winning."
Raikkonen, who also crashed at Monaco, said, "I have failed to score in these last two races and now it's time to start winning again. There is still a long way to go in the championship and it is still very close and we have everything we need to regain the ground we have lost."
Raikkonen goes to the French Grand Prix in two weeks fourth in the standings, trailing new leader Kubica by seven points. Hamilton, who came to Canada with a three-point lead over Raikkonen, is now tied for second with Ferrari's Felipe Massa, four points behind Kubica.
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BIG COMEBACK: An eighth-place finish for Sebastian Vettel on Sunday felt almost like a victory.
The Toro Rosso driver had to start the race in a rebuilt race car after crashing hard in practice on Saturday. Worse, he had to start from the pit lane at the rear of the 20-car field. The German driver also had one slow pit stop, the result of a problem with the refueling rig.
Despite all the obstacles, Vettel avoided further problems and grabbed the final point available in the race with an eighth-place finish.
"The race conditions were really bad and the asphalt was still apart," he said. "You couldn't afford to go off line or you would lose at least a second. The last 10 laps didn't make my life easy and I was in one of the most difficult positions as the teams I had behind were quite strong.
"I wanted the point and I resisted various attacks."
Teammate Sebastien Bourdais, a four-time Champ Car World Series champion in his first year in F1, ended a difficult weekend with a 13th-place finish.
The Frenchman, who also crashes on Saturday, but had less damage, still had to start from the rear of the field after the team changed his gearbox. At one point on Sunday, he spun but didn't hit the wall.
"It's just been a bad weekend all around," Bourdais said. "I went slightly off line and got in the gravel. If this happens once or twice, you are concerned it can happen again, which is not good, especially when you're running last.
"It was a complete disaster for me, so I just forgot about the possibility of trying to drive fast, just trying to bring the car home. .. and even this was a challenge."
It was still the best finish for Bourdais since he was seventh in the opener in Australia.
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MOVING UP: With it's first-ever victory and 1-2 sweep behind Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld on Sunday, BMW Sauber also moved into contention for the Constructors' Championship.
The team jumped past Mercedes McLaren into second in the standings and now trails leader Ferrari by just three points, 73-70, after seven of 18 races this season.
"It is fantastic, I am overwhelmed," said Mario Theissen, BMW's motorsports director. "Today, just everything worked well. ... Today, we achieved a milestone. Both drivers worked with no errors and strategies paid off."


Updated : 2021-02-28 09:34 GMT+08:00