June 10th, 2013 (F1plus/G. Keilloh).- We seem to have been here before. A few times before. Sebastian Vettel blasts off pole position and has the race in the palm of his hand within a few corners. He's several seconds clear before you know it, and the gap increases exponentially. From then on the race is under his command; he's always able to respond and immediately to whatever threat materialises behind. And he wins of course. Sounds very familiar.
We saw it just about every time it seemed in the 2011 season, and on occasion in the 2009, 2010 and 2012 campaigns too. And we saw it today, and at a Montreal track that hadn't always been kind to him or his team. From a few corners in the only race for victory was between Seb and himself, and very strangely that nearly got the better of him.
Usually Seb is like a metronome when out front, yet today he glanced a wall at turn four, as well as ran across the grass later at turn one, on each occasion not under particular pressure, and had either punished him more severely then I'd be writing a very different race report. But Seb got away with it, the win was indeed his and he now leads the driver's table by an increasingly beefed-up 36 points.
It's way too early of course to herald this as the start of another age of Vettel dominance. The race-by-race form of 2013 has varied, the grid here in Montreal was jumbled a little by rain, and come Silverstone things could look very different once again. But the pace of the Seb/Red Bull combination today will certainly be causing a bit of concern down Maranello and Enstone way. And even if it isn't the start of an imperious run Seb today continued to demonstrate that, whatever the case, he isn't likely to be gifting anything to his rivals this year. He's got the knack currently of maximising his result just about every time.
Alonso finished 2nd.
The rain stayed away in today's race, and as expected in such circumstances Fernando Alonso seemed Seb's most credible protagonist. The trouble is that the qualifying rain left him starting in sixth, and while he was in the pack Seb made his escape. Indeed by the time Alonso had made it up to second, by passing Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, the race was just about over.
Alonso will nevertheless view the result as a save, but Seb's pace combined with how hard Alonso had to work just to get to second will be a worry. This in addition to his Monaco experiences suggests that the Ferrari's competitiveness isn't quite as acute as it had been earlier in the season.
And, ah yes, Mercedes. You'll have spotted that Lewis finished third, with the silver car able to mix it at the front without its habitual tyre wear impediments. Some will no doubt conclude that this is further evidence of the team having benefitted from its infamous tyre test after the Barcelona race.
I wouldn't necessarily say that it's as straightforward as that, particularly as Nico Rosberg had a tough time of it today, sinking back with familiar tyre troubles to finish fifth some 54 seconds after his team mate. So it all suggests that the team at least hasn't solved its long-standing problem completely. And let's not forget too that there were races this season before the test that Mercedes was able to hang on in the race, such as Malaysia and China (and Hamilton did in Bahrain too).
Paul di Resta climbed from 17th to 7th.
Paul Di Resta once again put in a fine race day run after a frustrating qualifying. He started on medium tyres and was still running on them 57 laps later, when he made his one and only stop, and all the while his lap times were strong. Seventh place was his reward in the end.
Jean-Eric Vergne did one better, finishing sixth in his second points finish in a row, wherein he took advantage of a good starting slot and being able to clear Valtteri Bottas early.
But for McLaren though Monaco appears to have been a false dawn: once again Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were midfield fodder and indeed finished out of the points. While after starting third in a dry race Bottas couldn't overcome the FW35's shortcomings and sank down the order rapidly, and was fourteenth by the chequered flag.
And as for Kimi Raikkonen? He finished ninth and lapped, having enacted a one stopper which didn't begin to work (and quite why the team didn't abandon the idea is anyone's guess). And the idea has started to swirl that the Lotus has lost a bit of ground on its rivals in terms of pace.
But they may have the comfort of not being the only ones. For Sebastian Vettel today it was a lot like old times. Stopping him in his march towards title number four is clearly not going to be a straightforward task.