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Flag flub fails to mar Vettel’s victory

The Associated Press

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday in Montreal.)

The Associated Press MONTREAL (AP) — Sebastian Vettel led from the pole to the checkered flag — and then some — to claim a long-awaited Ferrari victory at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion sped on after the checkered flag was waved one lap too early, finishing his wire-to-wire victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday to claim his third win of the year and the lead in the Formula One standings.

“I was a bit confused. I told them I don’t think the race is over yet,” said Vettel, who confirmed on the counter in his car and with his team that he was only completing his 69th of the scheduled 70 laps.

“Some of the marshals were already celebrating,” he said. “I was just worried that people don’t jump on the track and start celebrating. We’re still going at full pace.”

Canadian model Winnie Harlow blamed race officials for telling her the wrong time to wave the flag. Formula One regulations say that if a checkered flag is waved too early, the race is over as of the last completed lap, making the results official as through 68 laps.

F1 spokesman Matteo Bonciani said there was confusion getting the message from a course official to Harlow on the platform.

Had any pass- ing occurred on the 69th or 70th laps, they would not have counted, Bonciani said.

But there was none, and Vettel picked up the 50th of his career, his second in Montreal and the first for Ferrari at the track since Michael Schumacher won three in a row from 2002-04.

Mercedes was second with Valtteri Bottas about six seconds back after never really challenging for the win. Max Verstappen was third and the other Red Bull car, driven by Daniel Ricciardo, was fourth.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who was fifth on Sunday, fell from the top of the Formula One standings and now trails Vettel by one point, 121-120. He had been going for a record-tying seventh victory in Montreal and a third win in four races.

“I’m the opposite of confident,” said Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff, whose team failed to deliver with an engine upgrade in time for the weekend and also botched its tire strategy heading in practice.

“I think this is a major wake-up call for every member of the team,” he said. “Everybody needs to assess how to improve performance.”

Bottas finished second for the fourth time in seven races this season. The fifth place finish was Hamilton’s worst of the year, but he said his engine was giving him problems all season and he was happy he was even able to finish.

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