Lewis Hamilton overcame all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in what was quite possibly the most dramatic race in Formula One history to claim his debut grand prix victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
in Montreal in only his sixth outing with the McLaren
Despite four safety car periods, penalties, a massive crash for Robert Kubica
and some strange strategies, the outcome may have been determined right at the start, when an error from Fernando Alonso
– the Spaniard's second opening lap misdemeanour of the year following his overly ambitious attempt to pass Felipe Massa
around the outside in Barcelona last month – saw him skate across the turn one run-off area as he endeavoured to brave it around the outside of team-mate Hamilton.
This not only safeguarded the Briton's advantage, but crucially also let the racy-looking Nick Heidfeld
by into second place. The incident, which saw Alonso slither across the grass before rejoining across Hamilton's bows, began a miserable afternoon for the world champion, whose car looked to have suffered underbody damage as it persisted in taking to the scenery at the first turn.
Still, that was better than the fate that befell Jenson Button, whose Honda refused to leave the grid at all, the 27-year old's dreadful luck in 2007 continuing as he became the race's first casualty.
Elsewhere, the main candidates all seemed set to cause themselves maximum difficulty, with Felipe Massa
getting the better of Ferrari
team-mate Kimi Raikkonen
into the opening complex of corners, only for the Finn to give the Brazilian a nudge, damaging his front wing. Further back, Mark Webber
lost three places at the start, allowing Nico Rosberg
into fifth as Raikkonen recovered from his error.
At the end of the opening lap, Hamilton had already stamped both his authority and intent on the race, crossing the line 1.5secs clear of Heidfeld, while Alonso, Massa, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Giancarlo Fisichella, Robert Kubica, Webber and Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten. Christijan Albers started from the pit-lane after suffering gearbox problems, but was not last following Button's problems.
Hamilton's lead grew by roughly a second a lap over the opening tours, with Alonso dropping further back and into the clutches of Massa's Ferrari. Webber, meanwhile, damaged his chances even further with a spin at turn one after ducking under Kubica, dropping to 14th behind Red Bull
team-mate David Coulthard
before mounting a recovery drive of sorts.
The first incident of what is traditionally a race of attrition befell Scott Speed, the American coming off worst in an optimistic pass on Alex Wurz into turn three. Not quite far enough alongside, the Toro Rosso
ran over the right rear of its Williams
rival, breaking its front left suspension and taking a chunk out of Wurz's rear wing endplate. Speed managed to get his car to a safe spot, thereby preventing the early appearance of the safety car, but the situation would not remain 'normal' for long.
Heidfeld, thought lighter than his rivals on the grid, was the first to pit for fuel and tyres on lap 20, ceding his early advantage for seventh spot on resumption, and his place as chief pursuer was taken by Massa, who had finally disposed of Alonso for third at turn one the previous lap. Again, the chance came as a result of another Alonso error, the world champion taking to the grass as he struggled with the handling of his McLaren.