McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton celebrated his first Formula One victory on Sunday, keeping his cool to win a chaotic Canadian Grand Prix and take an eight point lead in the world championship.
Starting in pole position, in just his sixth race, the 22-year-old Briton became the first black driver to win a grand prix and the first rookie since Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya for Williams in 2001.
”This is a fantastic day, this is historic,” said Hamilton, who has enjoyed unprecedented success in his debut season. No other Formula One driver has started their career with six straight podium finishes.
”I knew I was ready for something, it was just a matter of where and when,” added the Briton.
”The next dream is to win the Formula One world championship. But we have to be realistic and remember this is my rookie year.”
German Nick Heidfeld was second for BMW Sauber with Austrian Alex Wurz of Williams taking third place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve where he made his debut a decade ago.
Hamilton leads the championship with 48 points, eight clear of teammate and double world champion Fernando Alonso who finished seventh after a miserable afternoon for the Spaniard.
In an incident packed race, Ferrari’s title contender Felipe Massa and Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella were disqualified while BMW’s Polish driver Robert Kubica was taken to hospital after an horrific crash.
The safety car was deployed four times.
Hamilton showed great composure, while those around him were hitting walls, to confirm his status as a future champion and make up for his disappointment at finishing second to Alonso at the last race in Monaco.
The Briton triggered a controversy then when he said he was a number two at McLaren, a suggestion swiftly rejected by McLaren.
”Well done Lewis, you won that fair and square,” team boss Ron Dennis told him on the team radio after he took the chequered flag on Sunday.
Hamilton gained the upper hand over Alonso at the first turn when the Spaniard ran wide, sped over the grass and found himself stuck behind Heidfeld in third place.
Alonso later received a 10 second penalty for entering the pit after the safety car had come out and his dismal day was completed when he was overtaken by Japanese driver Takuma Sato’s Super Aguri with two laps remaining.
Sato finished sixth, behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in fifth and Renault’s Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen in fourth. Germany’s Ralf Schumacher took the final point for Toyota.
Kubica was taken to hospital after his BMW hit a Toyota on the approach to the hairpin on lap 27 and took off, flying through the air and slamming into a concrete wall at high speed before barrel-rolling across the track.
His manager said the Pole was conscious and stable, but one unconfirmed television report said the driver had broken a leg.
While Hamilton celebrated, the last Briton to win a grand prix failed to start. Briton Jenson Button, victorious in Hungary last August, had to be pushed off the grid with a gearbox failure. – Reuters