Montreal: Britain’s Lewis Hamilton won the Canadian Grand Prix for the fifth time on Sunday and paid tribute to the late boxing great Muhammad Ali after cutting Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg’s championship lead to nine points.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. That’s for Muhammad Ali,” the triple world champion said over the radio after taking the chequered flag at a cold Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
After parking up, Hamilton did an ‘Ali shuffle’ in another mark of respect for the former heavyweight champion whose funeral was on Friday. “I was just floating out there, the car was really floating,” he said of his 45th career victory in Formula One.
“The last 15 laps all I could do was think of him (Ali). The Rumble in the Jungle. Maybe he was watching the race. But RIP. This was for him,” said Hamilton.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second and Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams, but 46.4 seconds behind the winner.
Vettel had made a lightning start from third on the grid to blast past both Mercedes and grab the lead of the 70-lap race at the first corner. Rosberg got alongside Hamilton, who made another sluggish start, but he refused to yield as they fought for the tight space and their wheels banged and forced the title leader onto the grass.
The collision was not on the scale of their crash in Barcelona last month, which took both of them out, but proved a huge setback for Rosberg who dropped to 10th with Hamilton staying second. Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth for Ferrari with Daniel Ricciardo seventh in the Red Bull.