IT was one of those surreal events: Ferrari led the Canadian F1 Grand Prix from the start, crossed the finish line first — but victory went to Mercedes at Montreal.

The stewards deemed Sebastian Vettel made a dangerous move that almost shoved arch-rival Lewis Hamilton into a wall and slapped him with a five-second penalty.

As he crossed the line, fully aware that the win would go to Hamilton and that he was live on air to millions of viewers, he shouted: “No, no, no, not like that. You need to be an absolute blind man not to see that I couldn’t do anything!”

The petulant Ferrari driver then accused the stewards of stealing his win.

More than that, he refused to attend the post-race interviews and brazenly switched the position markers for places ‘1’ and ‘2’ around and when he returned to the podium, he placed one foot on the top step with Hamilton.

The pro-Ferrari Canadian crowd responded by booing Hamilton.

The podium shenanigans aside, the race on the fast, tricky Gilles Villeneuve circuit was great for Renault, with Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finishing sixth and seventh for the their best result of the season.

They separated the Red Bull Hondas of fifth-placed Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, whose future with the team looks bleak after yet another mediocre performance.

“I did all I could out there and I’m happy with the end result,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s the team’s first double points of the year and and we can’t ask for anything more than that.

“It was a lot of fun to battle (Mercedes driver) Valtteri Bottas for a few laps out there, but the team has that drive and determination to push on now and that’s really encouraging.”

Teammate Hulkenberg was a bit miffed at finishing behind Ricciardo when it seemed he was ready to overtake, but team orders told him to stay put.

“Daniel was on older tyres than Nico,” team principal Cyril Abiteboul said.

“He’d had a go at a couple of fast cars, so clearly his tyres were not in such a good shape.

“Probably Nico would have had the pace to overtake him, but frankly we said ‘we need that result’.

“I don’t like to have to do that, it’s not our style and we don’t intend to do it on many occasions.”

Up front, the podium spat was over a scary incident when Vettel, under intense pressure from Hamilton with 22 laps to go, veered off into the grass at the first chicane, then muscled back on to the track, closing the gap as Hamilton moved to overtake.

The Merc driver, travelling at about 240km/h, had to brake sharply to avoid the Ferrari and the wall.

Mercedes appealed immediately to the stewards, who soon agreed that Vettel had acted recklessly.

Their penalty, though, was not well received in the Ferrari cockpit.

“I had nowhere to go,” Vettel protested.

Hamilton reacted saying it was not the way he wanted to win.

“Ultimately the rules say that when you go off [the track] you have to come on in a safe manner and I had to back out to avoid a collision, so I guess that is why they made a decision.

“All I can say is that I didn’t do anything today to deserve booing – I was just racing my heart out.”

The controversy raged off-track too.

Former world champions Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill had opposing views.

Mansell said the stewards were “ridiculous” and Hill reckoned they’d made the correct call.

There was lots more unhappiness in other camps too.

Kevin Magnussen moaned about his car and had to be warned by the team boss.

“This is the worst experience I’ve had in a race car, ever,” Magnussen, who finished 17th, said.

Team principal Guenther Steiner replied: “It’s not a nice experience for us either. Enough is enough.”

Lando Norris was upset after parking his McLaren with a steering failure and Hulkenberg was annoyed by being told to stay behind his teammate.

But nothing matched the Vettel dummy-spit.

The Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto summed the situation up pretty well:

“We will calm down in a couple of hours

“We won today. I think honestly we were the fastest on track today and that is important.

“Everyone I think believes that there was nothing Sebastian could have done. I don’t think he had any bad intentions at all.

“He stayed ahead the entire race, he went through the chequered flag, for us he is the winner.”

And, rather reflectively he added: “The season is not over.”

Next show in the F1 circus is the French Grand Prix on the Paul Ricard circuit on June 23.

Results

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 70 1:29:07.084 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 70 +3.658s 18
3 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 70 +4.696s 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 70 +51.043s 13
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 70 +57.655s 10
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 69 +1 lap 8
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 69 +1 lap 6
8 10 Pierre Gasly RED BULL RACING HONDA 69 +1 lap 4
9 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 69 +1 lap 2
10 26 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 69 +1 lap 1
11 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 69 +1 lap 0
12 11 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 69 +1 lap 0
13 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
14 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
15 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
16 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 68 +2 laps 0
17 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 68 +2 laps 0
18 88 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES 67 +3 laps 0
NC 23 Alexander Albon SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 59 DNF 0
NC 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 8 DNF 0

Note – Magnussen was required to start the race from the pit lane due to a change of chassis after qualifying. Vettel received a post-race five-second time penalty for rejoining the track unsafely and forcing another car off track. Bottas scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.