REIGNING world champion Lewis Hamilton acknowledged the importance of victory after fending off Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and returning to winning ways at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal last night.
Hamilton’s first win in three races saw him extend his lead over title rival Rosberg at the summit of the drivers’ championship to 17 points, having seen the German close the gap with consecutive successes in Spain and Monaco.
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas finished third ahead of countryman Kimi Raikkonen, while the latter’s Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel came through the field from 18th on the grid to cross the line in fifth.
Hamilton now has four wins from seven races this term, while the 30-year-old’s latest triumph goes some way to rectifying the strategic error made by his team in Monte Carlo which almost certainly denied him the chequered flag.
“Did I need this? I think so,” said Hamilton, whose fourth victory at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit was also the 37th of his career. “I won my first race here in 2007 and to be back up here feels very historic to me.
“I love Montreal. I love this track. I love this city and really just wanted a fantastic weekend, it’s great to get back onto the top step.”
For the vast majority of the race the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg was little more than a couple of seconds, while the German edged closer following their respective pit stops on laps 29 and 30. The anticipated attack from the Rosberg failed to materialise, although Hamilton admitted that at no stage was he overly concerned by the presence of the 29-year-old.
“I didn’t feel I had the most comfortable balance, I generally had a lot of understeer,” added Hamilton. “But I never really felt under too much pressure. Nico was quick but I felt I pretty much had it all under control and had a bit of time in my pocket to pull it out when I needed to. So it was never too serious.
“But it was a great race, I don’t know what it was like to watch. It felt like it was intense and I really enjoyed it.”
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg survived a near crash with Raikkonen on lap 44 before securing eighth place behind Felipe Massa of Williams and Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado – the Venezuelan’s first points of the season.
Hamilton 151pts Mercedes 285 pts
Rosberg 134 Ferrari 180
Vettel 108 Williams 104
Raikkonen 72 Red Bull 54
Bottas 57 Lotus 23
Massa 47 Sauber 21
Ricciardo 35 Force India 21
Kvyat 19 Toro Rosso 15