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Daniel Ricciardo wins Canadian Grand Prix

June 8, 2014

MONTREAL (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo may be coming out of the shadow of his more celebrated Red Bull teammate.

The 24-year-old Australian won the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday to earn his first career Formula One victory, joining four-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel on the podium and snapping Mercedes’ stranglehold on the circuit this season.

Ricciardo’s win was the first win this year for any driver other than Nico Rosberg, the pole-sitter and championship leader, and Lewis Hamilton, a three-time Canadian GP champion. But the twin Mercedes Silver Arrows were forced to slow down midway through the race to keep their brakes from overheating, and Ricciardo was able to take advantage.

“The race came to life at the end,” said Ricciardo, who passed Rosberg with two laps to go. “It’s still a little bit surreal. It’s not like we were leading the whole race, so it’s not like I had time to understand that I was going to win.”

Rosberg finished second under a caution caused during a last-lap crash between Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez, easily protecting his lead in the championship standings. The German has 140 of a possible 175 points through seven races, with two victories and five second-place finishes. Hamilton, who went to the garage after 46 laps when his brakes overheated, remains second in the standings with 118 points.

With two fourth-place finishes, two thirds and a victory in his last five races, Ricciardo moved up to third with 79 points, passing Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who was sixth and has 69 points. Vettel, who won in Montreal last year, earned 15 points for his third-place finish and is fifth in the standings with 60 points.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us, because the Mercedes are still quite a bit quicker,” he said.

Drivers had to contend with track temperatures of 48 C at the start, on a sun-drenched day at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Ile de Notre Dame near downtown Montreal. The track, home to the Canadian Grand Prix since 1978, will get a face lift as part of a 10-year extension announced Saturday to keep the race in town through 2024.

Known as one of the more unpredictable tracks in Formula One, Montreal offered excitement from the start when Hamilton and Rosberg, who share a tense partnership, went tire-to-tire into the first chicane. Hamilton was forced to brake, allowing Vettel to pass.

But Hamilton was soon back in second and the two Mercedes drivers seemed headed for what would have been their sixth a 1-2 finish in a row. That ended when Hamilton tried to overtake Rosberg on a chicane at Turn 7 but instead was forced onto the grass.

He came out of the exchange with his car smoking, and within a lap the 2008 world champion — winner of four races this season — was out of the race. That left Mercedes with just Rosberg, and he was told over the radio to conserve his brakes so that he could make it to the end.

“We have such speed and to finish with just one car and come in second is hugely disappointing,” Rosberg said. “Our ambition is to finish 1-2. We have to make sure that we get back there in Austria.”

Only 11 of the 22 cars were still running at the end of the 70 laps. Massa was running fifth when he tried to pass Perez and collided with him, nearly taking out Vettel in the process; Massa posted a thumbs-up picture on Twitter from the hospital, and a Formula One spokesman said Perez also checked out OK.

Mercedes has been dominating Formula One this season, winning the first six races and sweeping the top two in five of them to put Rosberg and Hamilton 1-2 atop the championship standings. Mercedes leads Infinity Red Bull 258-139 in the constructor’s standings.

“We are fully aware that Red Bull is an amazingly strong team, and pushing like crazy to catch us,” Rosberg said. “We are always concerned. We are really pushing to extend the gap.”

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