This weekend in Montreal Lewis took his 45th career victory, his 5th at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and 2nd of the 2016 season so far. Nico managed to recover to P5 after an eventful race which saw him take to the grass at the first corner and pick up a puncture in the closing stages.
I don’t know what happened at the start. My practice start before the formation lap was perfect and I thought “this is going to be a breeze, getting off the line”. But when it came around for real it felt like I was going nowhere, so I need to figure out what happened there. I then got massive understeer into Turn One with cars attacking from all sides and had an unfortunate tap with Nico. After that it was just about trying to hunt down Sebastian. He was lightning on the first lap and we both had good pace from there. Other than one small lockup into Turn 10 I didn’t make any mistakes all race, so I was really happy with that. It was very much about managing tyres today and the team were spot on with the strategy call. I really enjoyed the race – everything went unbelievably smoothly. Every time Sebastian closed up I just had enough to keep the gap. I was just so in the groove. Over the last 10-15 laps all I could think of was Muhammad Ali – float like a butterfly, sting like a bee – because it really felt like I was floating. For me, and everyone I’m sure, he was such an inspirational figure, so that one was for him. I won my first ever race here in 2007 and this feels just as great. It's such a blessing. Thanks to everyone who came out today. We come here every year and have the best week.
Today’s race was really tough. Starting at the beginning, Lewis had a bad start, mine was decent and Sebastian got a super start. So, I was alongside Lewis and tried around the outside. I had to try the move or accept I’d be behind him. In Barcelona it worked but this time it didn’t. It was a hard maneuver from him but that’s racing and I need to do a better job next time. I lost a lot of places going down the escape road and that cost me a shot at the race. From there I did my best to fight back and I there was a chance of a podium – but then I got the puncture and had to pit again – dammit! I was pushing hard after that to regain the positions but it was a massive mission managing the car with brake warnings coming on and running low on fuel. It was a good battle with Max – again, on the limit but good racing. I tried everything to get past him and had a massive spin at the end. On that final lap I just about managed to drag it round for P5 ahead of Kimi, so a disappointing result as our car was awesome today but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’ve got two days at home now to get ready and go for it again in Baku.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
That was a fantastic, action-packed race like we expect in Montreal – and a sensational drive from Lewis to take the win. As we went into today’s race, it wasn’t clear whether one stop or two stops would be the way to go in the cold conditions and depending on how the tyres warmed up. But when Sebastian stopped behind the VSC, then it was clear that making just one stop was our best chance of winning – and then it was up to Lewis to keep the tyres alive, stretch the stints and do the pace we needed. He did a brilliant job of that and, when we could see from other cars on older soft tyres that they were holding on well, it was clear that the win was really on. As for Nico, his day was defined by Turn One and the fight-back from there. Lewis reported on the radio that he had understeer and cold front tyres going into the corner – and there was some risk for Nico to be running on the outside line. It was a hard move and clearly you don’t want or expect to come out of Turn 2 with cars in 2nd and 9th positions when you start from the front row; but to be honest, these discussions after each race give me a feeling a little bit of deja vu. After that, Nico got his head down and did a fantastic job; he was on course for the podium before he suffered a slow puncture, which meant we brought him in for a second stop, then he was managing the car and also marginal on fuel, so he couldn’t attack every lap. He had a great battle with Verstappen, who was defending very well, then lost the car under braking into the final chicane, fighting hard for every point. From the team’s perspective, a number of factors meant we didn’t take a double podium, though we did score the most points of any team today. But the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull showed that the competition is right there with us – and we need to get everything right in order to maintain our position at the front.