2007 Canadian Grand Prix
It’s now been just over 13 years since Lewis Hamilton made his Formula 1 debut. The Briton has dominated the sport ever since he arrived and has won six world championships in a dozen seasons.
To date, Hamilton has won 84 career F1 races, which is second all-time. After coming close in his first five races, the then-22-year-old rookie finally picked up the first of those 84 victories in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.
Join SBOTOP in stepping back in time to that historic race, which well and truly marked Hamilton’s arrival as the next big F1 superstar.
Highlights of the game
Hamilton came into the Canadian GP on quite a high. He was tied with team-mate and reigning back-to-back world champion Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ standings after five consecutive podium finishes in his first five races.
The most recent of which was in Monaco, where Hamilton finished second to Alonso. But the rookie was left frustrated by team orders not to attack Alonso and jeopardise McLaren’s 1-2 finish.
Whatever frustration Hamilton had about that situation, he channelled it toward a brilliant performance in qualifying in Canada. The Brit blew past Alonso in Q3 as he claimed his first career pole by over four-tenths of a second.
After what played out in Monaco, though, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Hamilton give way to Alonso, who started in second place.
But the double world champion made a complete mess of things right from the off. He failed to capitalise on Hamilton’s slow start as he ran wide in the first corner while trying to pass his team-mate.
As a result, Nick Heidfeld moved up to second behind Hamilton, who had the opening he needed now that Alonso wasn’t looming in behind and ready to take over the lead due to team orders. The young Brit took full advantage of his situation as he set a blistering pace to keep Heidfeld at bay.
It should be noted that apart from Hamilton’s maiden win, the 2007 Canadian GP will be remembered as the race where Robert Kubica suffered a horrendous crash, one of the worst in recent F1 memory.
On lap 26, Kubica’s car clipped Jarno Trulli’s Toyota and was sent launching into the concrete barrier. The severity of the damage was such that there was major concern about Kubica’s condition.
But despite the significant time behind the safety car — one of several in the race — Hamilton did not lose his concentration. Once the race restarted, he would waste little time in restoring his advantage over Heidfeld.
Meanwhile, Alonso was having a disastrous race. He followed up his opening corner error by going off the track a few more times due to braking problems. He also picked up a 10-second penalty for pitting while the safety car was out. He was a complete non-factor as he eventually finished in seventh.
Alonso finished just under 22 seconds behind Hamilton, who went on to claim his first chequered flag in impressive fashion.
“It has been a fantastic day,” Hamilton said after the race. “This is history. To come here, my first time in Canada…it’s really been a fantastic season already. We’ve had six podiums, and I’ve been ready for the win for quite some time. It was just a matter of when and where.”
The Canadian Grand Prix will always have a special place in Hamilton’s heart since it was his first-ever win. And that fondness has only grown over the years as Hamilton has gone on to win six more times in Montreal.
His seven Canadian GP wins puts it in a tie with Hungary for the race he’s won the most times in his illustrious career. Hamilton has won four of the last five stagings of the Canadian GP, including last year’s somewhat controversial race.
If and when this year’s race takes place, the Formula 1 2020 predictions will no doubt have him installed as the favourite to claim his eighth career win in Montreal.
What happened next?
Hamilton didn’t have to wait too long for his next victory as it came in the very next race in the United States Grand Prix. Once again, he claimed pole over his team-mate, Alonso. The Spaniard put up a much tougher fight this time around, but Hamilton held on for the victory.
There were no team orders for Hamilton to let his world champion team-mate pass. That was made abundantly clear when a frustrated Alonso got his car alongside his rookie team-mate’s but tried and failed to pass him on lap 35. Such an incident between team-mates would definitely be big Formula 1 2020 news if it happened today.
In hindsight, that was a sign that all was not well at McLaren. Alonso’s relationship with the team would deteriorate further to the point where he would leave at the end of the season after just one year on the team.
As for Hamilton, he would conclude his rookie season second in the drivers’ standings, just a couple of points away from winning the world championship in his very first season in F1.