Nico Rosberg extended his World Championship lead over Mecedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton following Sunday’s dramatic and action-packed Canadian Grand Prix.
After a tense qualifying session that went the way of Rosberg, the stage was set for another Mercedes battle at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, but the Brackley team’s winning streak came to end in a dramatic fashion.
The two Silver Arrows almost clashed at the first corner as Rosberg gained the upper hand, which allowed the German driver to control the pace over Hamilton at the head of the field before both Mercedes began to experience problems with their Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic (MGU-K) units.
This is a system where energy is re-used to give extra power to the drivetrain from the car’s energy store, and with this system failing, the two Mercedes cars saw their pace drop significantly.
Rosberg’s lead was cut by Hamilton, but just when it looked like the British driver would take the lead, a braking problem forced him to retire in a blow to his title hopes.
The 29-year-old said: “I did the best that I could out there and felt like I was having a strong race, but unfortunately it just wasn’t our day. Montreal has been a good track for me so to come here and not finish is disappointing.”
Rosberg continued in the lead but with his car struggling, he was caught by the chasing pack and in the dying laps, lost out to the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who swept past and went onto claim his first F1 victory while also ending Mercedes’ winning run.
Speaking afterwards, Rosberg said: “That was a big battle all the way through! I had a tough start but I was able to defend in the first few corners and fight against Lewis.
“The race went smoothly for a while but then both cars suddenly lost the MGU-K system and a lot of power which was really tough.
“I lost some time in the second pit stop which let Lewis jump me and I was struggling to cool the rear brakes down so it was all happening.
“Towards the end of the race, I tried to defend against Sergio which was fine, but Daniel was too fast on the straights with much more power than I had and he was able to get past. I have scored important points for the championship, so it was ultimately a good day.”
Hamilton, who now trails his German team-mate by 22 points, added: “It’s great for the team that Nico was able to hold on and get second place today but it’s tough for me.
“That’s two DNFs now this season and now I have to try and recover the points gap again. But these are learning experiences. We will learn as a team and get stronger.”
Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, said: “First of all, I must say I feel sorry for Lewis. His retirement was not his fault and it is something the team has to take on the chin. Nico did a sensational job to get the car home and it was a fantastic piece of damage limitation given how much power he was giving away to the other cars.”
Having scored a debut Grand Prix victory, Milton Keynes-based Daniel Ricciardo has moved into third place in the overall standings.