Lewis Hamilton’s championship defence has been littered with a series of mistakes by his Mercedes team.
Here, we look at the errors which have cost Hamilton at four of the seven rounds this term – the most recent of which saw him surrender the title leadership to Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton was on course to win the opening race with ease, but a timing glitch on the Mercedes pit wall during a virtual safety car period enabled Vettel to snatch victory from the Briton.
At the next race, Hamilton started only ninth after he was penalised with a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. He recovered to finish third, but lost further ground to winner Vettel in the title race.
Mercedes were slow to react to a late safety car in Shanghai by failing to bring Hamilton in for new tyres. Daniel Ricciardo, who did stop for fresh rubber, won, while Hamilton was fortunate to finish fourth after Max Verstappen crashed into Vettel.
Unlike their rivals, Mercedes failed to bring their planned engine upgrade to Canada. Hamilton encountered problems with his old engine in the race while his team also botched his strategy and saw their driver lose places to Ricciardo. Team boss Toto Wolff also admitted they did not bring enough sets of the faster hypersoft tyre compound with them to Montreal which contributed to Hamilton qualifying only fourth. He finished fifth in the race and surrendered his title lead to race winner Vettel.
Lewis Hamilton was left to rue a Mercedes engine problem after he lost the lead of the Formula One championship to Sebastian Vettel in Canada on Sunday.
Vettel ruled from lights-to-flag at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in an emphatic display as he crossed the line ahead of Valtteri Bottas with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third.
But Hamilton, so often the master here in Montreal, had to settle for fifth on a weekend to forget for the defending champion and his team.
Here, we take at the key takeaways from Canada.
Vettel fights back
The German can leave Montreal with plenty of positives after sealing his third win of the season and also, significantly, he re-takes the championship lead from Lewis Hamilton.
The 30-year-old led a consistent Ferrari performance in Canada, between his superb win and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen crossing the line in sixth.
Staying on top for the entire race, he didn’t put a foot wrong around a circuit that is renowned for Mercedes’ dominance over the last few years.
With two weeks until the championship rolls into France, the four-time world champion is slowly stamping his authority after sub-par performances in China, Baku and Barcelona. Hamilton’s shown his resilience this season, so can Vettel follow suit?
Hamilton off colour
Not one of those race Sundays we are normally accustomed to seeing the Briton light up. He was not in the finest mood and sounded low on the radio all afternoon.
Slow across the practice sessions, the Briton was out-qualified by Vettel and his teammate Valtteri Bottas, resulting in P4 on the grid.
But apart from taking the jump on Raikonnen after his pitstop on lap 18, the 33-year-old struggled to fire and finished fifth – only the second time he has failed to make the podium in the first seven races.
Needs to up his performance in France to prevent the German from stretching the lead in the title race.
Starting from P3, the Dutchman produced a sublime performance for his second podium of the season.
The 20-year-old has endured a frustrating campaign to date, with fifth, sixth and ninth place finishes adding to his two retirements in Bahrain and Baku.
But the Monaco resident looked magical in Montreal, pushing Bottas hard for large spells of the race as he yearned for second place.
With his teammate Daniel Ricciardo finishing fourth ahead of Hamilton, it proved to be a successful weekend for Red Bull.
Alonso 300 and out
After five top-eight finishes, the Spaniard was forced to retire on his 300th grand prix meeting after suffering exhaust failure.
Sitting 11th, it looked like the two-time world champion was on the verge of challening for another top-10 finish for McLaren but a loss in power meant he would have to retire on lap 51.
In his second successive retirement due to a mechanical issue, the question is where does Alonso go from here?
The Oviedo native will turn 37 in July and if this is his swansong season in F1 then it’s difficult to argue what he throws his hand to in his free time.
He will race in Le Mans next weekend, in a potential winning Toyota team. That must push him another step closer to Indy 500 in 2019.
Hamilton and Vettel may go down as the most successful drivers of our era, but put Alonso in an identical car and he’d be the same potent force.
Lewis Hamilton handed the advantage to rival Sebastian Vettel after a mistake on his final run left him only fourth on the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Vettel, who trails Hamilton by 14 points in the title race, took pole position with a track record of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to finish ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen placed third in the dying moments of a thrilling qualifying session to bump championship leader Hamilton further down the order.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen will line up in fifth with Monaco Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo sixth for Red Bull.
Verstappen’s crash last time out in Monaco marked his fifth big mistake from six rounds, and he arrived in North America threatening to “headbutt someone” following a series of questions about his accident-prone campaign.
The 20-year-old has been in impressive form this weekend, but the lack of Renault power in the final sector of this high-power circuit cost him the chance to usurp Vettel as the sport’s youngest ever pole sitter.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner congratulated Verstappen on finishing third, with the Dutchman replaying: “I guess it shows I still know how to drive.”
Verstappen added: “I’m very happy with this weekend. The car has been working really well and we know in qualifying we are missing top speed.
“We have the pace to take the fight to Ferrari and Mercedes. Starting on the softer tyre is a benefit as it’s quite slippery on track and in the race I think we’ll be competitive.”
Vettel is winless from the last four races but he is now in a strong position to ensure that does not extend to five rounds after edging out Bottas by just eight hundredths of a second.
“I got the job done,” Vettel said. “Yesterday we were in trouble in practice as I wasn’t really happy with the car because we had some problems and I couldn’t get the rhythm.
“But today we switched on. The car was incredible, and it just kept getting quicker.”
Hamilton was on course to challenge Vettel for pole, but went in too deep on his brakes at the hairpin and crossed the line adrift of his championship rival.
Fernando Alonso is celebrating his 300th grand prix here this weekend, becoming only the fourth driver in F1 history to reach the landmark.
But the two-time champion, and indeed his British team, had little to toast on Saturday after a thoroughly underwhelming performance.
Alonso qualified 14th, one place ahead of his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, to mark his worst grid position in Canada since his opening season at minnows Minardi in 2001.
It has been another weekend to forget for Williams, too. The Oxfordshire team have scored the fewest points of all this year, and Canadian teenager Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin could manage only 17th and 18th respectively.
It would have been worse, but for Romain Grosjean’s dramatic engine blow-up and Marcus Ericsson clipping the wall. Grosjean failed to set a lap, while Ericsson limped back to his Sauber garage with terminal damage.