Lewis Hamilton pays tribute to Muhammad Ali after storming to Canadian Grand Prix victory

LEWIS HAMILTON delivered a knock-out punch that would have pleased boxing legend Muhammad Ali – leaving Nico Rosberg sparked out.

The Brit went toe-to-toe with his bitter rival into the first turn, exchanging blows that left Rosberg worse off.


Credit: AP:Associated Press

Hamilton signals to the crowd after winning in Montreal

It was a short bout between two heavyweights but was instrumental in helping Hamilton defend his world title, as the gap between the two was sliced to nine points.

And after this, the 45th victory of his career, Hamilton dedicated the win to the boxer, who sadly died last week.

Hamilton climbed from his car and did the Ali Shuffle as a mark of respect and then said: “I don’t normally dedicate wins but I want to dedicate this to someone who has inspired me — Muhammad Ali.


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Hamilton repeats his success of 2015 in Montreal

“He was someone who inspired me and for the last 15 laps, all I could think about was him and the Rumble In The Jungle.

“I was thinking that maybe he was up there and watching the race, so for me – rest in peace.

“He was just such an iconic individual who everyone aspired to be like him. I wish I could be like him and carry confidence into a fight and outsmart at opponent.

“I am coming from a family who grew up with similar adversity, so he was someone I could look up to.”


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Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Hamilton got off to a poor start

Unlike in Barcelona, on this occasion they were both able to continue racing, albeit with Rosberg dropping to 10th place after the first lap as he was forced to take evasive action to avoid further contact with Hamilton.

Hamilton and Rosberg’s bang came as a result of Vettel’s sensational start from the line as he blasted past Hamilton from third to first.

And the German set about building a lead out in front and at the halfway stage, Vettel had a 10.7 second lead over the Brit.


Credit: Reuters
Hamilton won in Canada last year

But that was wiped out when Vettel pitted for tyres catapulting Hamilton into the lead on lap 44 — his lucky number — it was also the 2,500th lap he has lead during his F1 career.

Hamilton seized his advantage and carved out a modest lead in front of Vettel, while the four-time world champion’s hopes of mounting a late fight were wrecked with two mistakes at the final turn.

His countryman Rosberg was also having more bad luck when his Merc picked up a puncture.

Yet credit to the championship leader, who was clearly riled by Hamilton’s first-lap challenge, as he had a great fight with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

And he pressed to the limit, going too far on the final lap, spinning off after getting passed Verstappen.

Yet he recovered and had to settle for fifth place behind the Dutch teen, who came home fourth while Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was third.

Meanwhile, it was a miserable afternoon for British duo Jenson Button and Jolyon Palmer, who were both forced to retire.

Button was first to pull over on lap 11 with his Honda-powered McLaren billowing out smoke.

It was hugely frustrating for the 36 year-old, who was confident of a substantial points haul from this race.


Hamilton celebrates with the trophy after overcoming Vettel in Montreal

He said: “The engine went pop. I lost power and then it was pretty obvious why when I looked in the mirror and I could see lots of smoke and some sparks.

“It is a shame. It is an engine we have used for a few weeks, so I think we pushed it a little bit too far.”

And Palmer’s wretched run in 2016 continued and he is still without a point in his debut season when he retired after lap 18.

He said: “We had a water leak so I had to stop the car. The engine was working well, the car felt good.

“We were looking alright until then.

“A little bit of a lucky break wouldn’t go amiss right now. That would be nice.”

It was Hamilton’s fifth win here in nine attempts and breezes new life into this championship and he says his bang with Rosberg was not on purpose.

He said: “What an amazing day. The first turn was horrible. I had another really bad start.

“Seb and Nico got a good start and with the tyres cold, and with big understeer, I was grateful Nico and I did not damage our cars.


Credit: AP:Associated Press
Hamilton and Vettel celebrate on the Montreal podium

“I had no grip and I just understeered and the guys behind me were tiptoeing through there. It was not intentional.

“This was one of my best races for a while and we are going to take it one race at a time.

“There is still work to do. We are going to keep on improving this car, going to stay on the road. Ferrari are getting faster, so we have to keep our heads down and keep on pushing.”

Meanwhile, Rosberg, who suffered a spin on the final lap, said he was left “angry” by Hamilton’s first-lap block.

He added: “Sebastian had a great start, I had a decent one, Lewis had slow one. In Spain I went for the outside and made it work.

“Here, I went for the outside again and he did a real hard racing manoeuvre and I was off. I was [angry] at the time but that’s racing.”

Driver of the Day: Nico Rosberg was in the thick of it all afternoon and drove his wheels off.

Move of the Race: Rosberg left it late to leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen at the final turn on lap 58.

Mistake of the Race: Rosberg spun off having overtaken Verstappen on the final lap.

Milkfloat: Rio Haryanto’s Manor was slow and he came home in last place.

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