A PUNCH FOR ALI: Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the Canadian GP. Image: AP / The Canadian Press
Montreal, Canada - Lewis Hamilton borrowed both a phrase and a strategy for victory from the late Muhammad Ali on Sunday (June 12, 2016) when he produced a perfectly-judged and determined drive to win the Canadian GP.
The defending three-time world champion recovered from a slow start from his fifth pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to take full advantage of Ferrari's two-stop strategy and claim his fifth win on his favourite track.
Hamilton's fifth in Canada
Hamilton said on team radio during his slowing down lap: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. That was for Muhammad, that was - that's for Ali."
The world champion is now just nine points behind Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg after a second successive win to follow his victory in Monte Carlo a fortnight ago.
Hamilton's management of his tyres, and his patience, during a tense race enabled him to hide his true speed until the closing laps when he resisted the revived Sebastian Vettel's rampant Ferrari to claim victory.
READ: Canadian GP - Hamilton dedicates superb win to Muhammad Ali
Vettel, who shot into the lead at the start and then made an early pit stop to switch to a two-stop strategy, was unable to make best use of his updated Ferrari power unit and fresher tyres as he came home second.
A beaming Hamilton told Hollywood film star Michael Douglas in the podium interview: "I'm just overwhelmed with today.
"It feels just as great as my first win. Today, I had another really bad start, I'm not sure why - possibly I over-heated the clutch. I feel very grateful that Nico and I didn't damage our cars and then I had fun chasing down this guy (Vettel).
"We got the set-up right. I won my first Grand Prix here in 2007 and it feels such a blessing."
'This car has performance'
Vettel admitted that he did not have enough speed to win.
Vettel said: "Lewis was a bit too quick, that was the issue. But we had a great weekend - I had a fantastic start. It was very windy and maybe I struggled with the wind behind.
"We committed fairly early to a different strategy and probably Lewis's tyres lasted better than we expected. It was fun to see this car has performance and to unleash it."
READ: Vettel - 'I want to be a world champion with Ferrari'
The four-time champion German gave Hamilton a battle all the way to the flag as they finished clear of a chasing pack led by Finn Valtteri Bottas, who repeated his third place finish of 2015 for the delighted Williams team.
31-year-old Hamilton, who ended seven win-less months with victory in Monaco in May 2016, has now cut Rosberg's lead from 43 points to nine in the last two races to set himself up for a tilt at his fourth title.
Record breaking Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull, finishing ahead of Rosberg who was fifth in the second Mercedes despite an off-track excursion on his final lap when he failed to overtake.
Bad day at the office
Rosberg said: "I nearly ran out of fuel and that's why I couldn't attack Max at the end.
"When I did, he defended really well. At the end, it went completely pear-shaped, but I managed to get it back. A very frustrating race."
Rosberg said he was forced off-circuit by Hamilton when they battled with Vettel at turn one.
Rosberg added: "But that's racing. It's my job to make sure I come out in front next time."
Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth in the second Ferrari, ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull and Nico Hulkenberg of Force India.
Carlos Sainz came home ninth for Toro Rosso and Sergio Perez was 10th in the second Force India.