Montreal: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday and made amends for an uncharacteristic mistake that cost the Formula One world champion victory two years ago. The 25-year-old German cruised to his first triumph in North America with a dominant performance to erase the disappointment of his last lap error in the 2011 race in Montreal.
Two years ago, Vettel seemingly had the race at his mercy. He had snatched pole position and led for almost all of the race. He was still in front when the race resumed after a long rain delay when, under pressure from McLaren's Jenson Button, he slid wide and allowed the Briton to overtake him for the chequered flag.
His disappointment was tempered when he went on that year to win the second of his three successive championships, but he resolved to make up for the mistake by one day winning in Canada. That day arrived on Sunday and the 25-year-old's relief was unmistakable.
"Yes! At last we have won in Canada," he screamed into the team radio after crossing the finish line. Later, interviewed on the winners' podium, he told the crowd: "Two years ago we came very close but I lost it on the last lap and that was my mistake - but I made up for that today."
It was a case of third time lucky for Vettel. He also had a chance to win last year after starting on pole position but lost pace over the final laps and was lucky to finish fourth after skimming the wall near the end.
He had another brush with the wall on Sunday, running wide on a corner and clipping the concrete but there was no damage to his car and he continued on. In fact, he did not even know he had touched it.
"I knew it was close but the next time around I thought 'Oh, somebody brushed the wall there' because I saw some marks. I didn't know until the end that they were mine," laughed the German.
Vettel also ran wide on another corner near the end of the race, losing a little bit of time, but he was so far ahead that it made no difference to the result. "He had a couple of wake-up calls today," said a relieved Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. This makes up for two years ago. We came pretty close but it's been a bit of a bogey circuit for us. To lap all the field up to the last four cars is a really dominant display today."
Vettel's win extended his lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the title race to 36 points after seven of this season's 19 rounds but neither he nor his team were taking anything for granted. "I don't think you can afford to write off anyone's chances at this stage," said Horner. "There's still a long way to go so no-one can afford to be complacent."
While Vettel was all smiles after his 29th career win, his Australian team-mate Mark Webber was left to rue his bad luck after finishing fourth. Webber was running third and closing in on second place when he collided with Giedo van der Garde's Caterham at a hairpin, damaging the front wing on his car.
The Dutchman was given a 10-second penalty for ignoring a blue flag and cutting in front of Webber when the Australian was about to overtake him, but it was Webber who suffered the biggest penalty when he missed out on a podium finish.
"Obviously it was his fault," Webber said. "The stewards see it like that; he gets a time penalty and so do I obviously because I have a damaged front wing."