The Canadian Grand Prix weekend had everything – from crashes and controversy to overtaking and offence in what was one of the more exciting races of the season.
Sebastian Vettel’s contentious penalty stole all of the headlines after the race but there was plenty more happening around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Here’s five things we learned from the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal this weekend…
Smoke and mirrors for Vettel
Yes, Sebastian Vettel was treated very harshly when he was handed the five-second penalty to cost him victory in Montreal but what has been overlooked by many critics of the stewards is that he put himself in the apposition with a sloppy mistake.
Vettel, for all his successes in Formula One, always has an error in his locker and a series of high-profile mistakes last season were responsible for him surrendering his championship fight with Lewis Hamilton.
It has happened again a few times this season already but never while leading a race and whether it was the pressure from Hamilton which truly caused it or not, it was Vettel’s fault that he went onto the grass and lost control.
His smoke and mirrors diversion at the end of the race – complaining over the team radio, parking in the wrong place, going straight to the stewards to argue, needing to be persuaded to actually attend the podium and entertainingly switching the winner’s boards in parc ferme – made many forget about the mistake.
It provided some great entertainment in what has so far been a dull championship tussle but ultimately all it did was cover up his mistake, leaving everyone talking about the decision rather than the mistake.
A good tactic to save face, but it is these mistakes that need looking at more promptly than the rules.
As good as it gets for Ricciardo
What a weekend for Daniel Ricciardo, at last! The Aussie was arguably the most impressive driver of the weekend after a stunning drive to take P4 in qualifying before doing everything right in the race to secure a sixth-place finish.
His battle with Valtteri Bottas was a great display of defending and holding up the Mercedes man for far longer than anyone would have anticipated.
It underlines the progress Renault has made since his awful debut in Melbourne.
They were clocking similar straight-line speed to Ferrari at times during the grand prix and they got their strategy spot on to split the Red Bulls. Only the fresher tyres of Max Verstappen prevented another classic fight between the former teammates.
The challenge for Renault and Ricciardo now is making this performance stick and finding some level of consistency ahead of their home grand prix in France in two weeks.
They have new upgrades coming for that race too and will look to get to where they expected to be at this stage – in fourth place and troubling the Red Bulls.
If Renault provide the right car, and given the way Pierre Gasly is going in his Red Bull, they have the right driver to narrow the gap between the top three.
If Renault are unable to push on and regularly tackle Red Bull though, then Ricciardo has hit the glass ceiling of his F1 season already with his performance in Canada.
‘One of those dis-Haas-trous weekends’
While one contending team for the ‘best of the rest’ tag excelled, the rest faltered – and none more spectacularly than Haas who are still to get to grips with the new Pirelli tyres this season.
As usual, Haas looked to have strong one-lap speed during qualifying, with two places in the top-10 shootout on the cards until that disastrous moment at the end of Q2.
Kevin Magnussen’s crash not only cost him – and, of course, Max Verstappen – but also his teammate Romain Grosjean who was finishing a flying lap just behind the Dane when he was forced to slow up as the session was red flagged.
Magnussen was forced to start from the pit lane despite making Q3 after his rebuild but commented it was “the worst experience I have ever had in any race car ever” while Grosjean dropped to the back of the field when he had to dislodge some debris from inside his own cockpit.
Canada was the fourth time in seven races that Haas has failed to score any points and it is costing them in the hunt for fourth place this season.
There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel in the same way Renault have seemingly gotten over their troubles for the moment.
“It’s one of these disastrous weekends which started in Q2 and didn’t finish since then,” Guenther Steiner said. “The only thing you can do is regroup and try to do better next time.”
Question marks over Gasly
Just as it looked like Pierre Gasly was turning the corner and settling into his Red Bull, he suffers a completely uncompetitive race and is outperformed by both Renaults.
Rumours circulated that Red Bull chief adviser Helmut Marko was losing his patience with Gasly and lining up Nico Hulkenberg of all people to replace him.
Gasly called it “bulls***”, Hulkenberg said it was “fake news” and Marko flatly denied it but it may have passed through their minds after Canada’s result.
It is only Gasly’s second season in F1 but judgments are harsher now he is at Red Bull rather than Toro Rosso and he will know that better than most, having seen how ruthless Marko usually is with underperformers.
Up next he has his home grand prix in France and will be desperate for a positive result, otherwise there may be some intense discussions come the mid-season break.
Gasly is closer to Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo in the standings than he is to Charles Leclerc or Max Verstappen and that will be a big worry for Red Bull.
A Stroll in the park
Lance Stroll’s poor season looked like it was set to continue at his home grand prix after his new spec Mercedes engine expired in FP3 and sent waves of panic to all others using the same engine.
And it looked even worse when his run of Q1 exits was extended to 11 consecutive races as he started from 11th on the grid.
The main positive of Stroll’s season so far however has been his start from lights out and again he put in another one, moving up a couple of places before running a long first stint to move up the order.
His later stop allowed him to use his tyre advantage to chase down and pass Carlos Sainz for P9 – an eight-place advantage on where he started his race.
It was certainly one of the drives of the day and showed what he can do on his day, despite all of his setbacks over the weekend.
Achieving this consistently is key, but ending his qualifying rut is a must if he is to take advantage of his supreme ability off the line.