Lewis Hamilton joins F1 winners' club

June, 13, 2012
06/13/12
11:00
AM ET

Tires have seemingly dominated the Formula One landscape this season, and in Montreal, they once again helped to tell the story. The drama truly emerged late in the Canadian Grand Prix, when both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel were attempting to nurse worn tires and fend off a fast-charging Lewis Hamilton.

In the end, McLaren's strategy paid off as Hamilton became the seventh different winner in as many grands prix this season, while his constructor continued to pace the field in Montreal (having won five of the past seven at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve).

Fresh rubber has proved to be an exceedingly valuable commodity this season, and the driver who can best conserve his tires certainly has an excellent chance at victory, providing his team has given them a proven race blueprint. Because of his sound drive, Hamilton is now just four wins shy of Vettel for the most since the start of the 2007 season.

A true challenge lies ahead for Hamilton, however, as recent winners have had trouble with consistency. The trend began with Vettel's win in India last season. Following that event, the most recent winner has failed to reach the podium in the next race every time, a rather alarming occurrence that signifies just how unpredictable F1 has been lately.

The driver who can consistently notch podium finishes, and not necessarily wins, should be in great shape this season, as it seems unlikely that one man will control the top step for the rest of the year.

Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez filled out the podium, and in turn, each earned their second podium finish of the season. Both could be F1 stars of the future, as they have displayed several impressive performances this season. Since China, Grosjean is behind only Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Hamilton and Mark Webber for points earned, and could realistically win a grand prix this year if he continues this pace.

Lotus has shown to be quick, and Grosjean was asked by a reporter in the postrace press conference how close to victory he believes he is: "The gap is not that big. We need to qualify better. That is not our strength this season, but we are working on it. I think Friday and Saturday were quite difficult for us, but we have been learning a lot about the car, so it's good that we now have that in our pocket for the next races. Then you never know."

Meanwhile, Perez has been forced to make up some serious ground in each of the past two races. In Monaco, he started 23rd on the grid and finished 11th, while in Canada he finished third after starting 15th. That's made his podium finish all the more impressive, considering it is the worst start by a man to finish on the podium since Webber started 18th over a year ago in China. Sauber has built a quick car this year in various conditions, and like Lotus, is an outside threat to win a grand prix. With a strong grid position this team is dangerous when it employs an aggressive strategy, and Perez has shown he is capable of challenging the strong runners.

The improvement of several newcomers to F1 combined with the latest version of tires has made for a wild season thus far, and it now appears that the true surprise would be if the rest of the season diverted from what fans have witnessed so far.

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