Lewis Hamilton was crowned the winner of a remarkable Canadian Grand Prix after Sebastian Vettel’s victory was chalked off following a five-second penalty.
Vettel took the chequered flag at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but was sensationally demoted to runner-up after he was controversially penalised for a near-collision with Hamilton on lap 48.
“They are stealing the race from us,” said a furious Vettel over the radio as he was informed of the stewards’ verdict.
Hamilton crossed the line 1.3 seconds behind Vettel to ensure he would take the fifth win of his championship defence, and extend his title lead to 29 points after Valtteri Bottas finished fourth. Charles Leclerc completed the podium positions.
Pole-sitter Vettel had appeared on course to end a miserable 287-day losing streak, but the race exploded into life with 22 of 70 laps to run.
Hounded by Hamilton, Vettel, who has made a series of ruinous mistakes in recent seasons, lost control of his Ferrari at the left-handed third bend and ran over the grass.
Hamilton was within half-a-second of the Ferrari car at that point, and as Vettel re-joined the track at the ensuing corner, Hamilton, pushed up against the concrete wall, was forced to slam on the brakes to avoid a coming together.
“I would have been past if it wasn’t for the wall,” said Hamilton on the radio after emulating Michael Schumacher by winning for a record-equalling seventh time in Canada.
But Vettel was incandescent.
“No, no, no, not like that,” he said on the Ferrari radio. “Seriously, you need to be a blind man to think you can go through the grass and control your car.
“We are lucky I did not hit the wall. Where was I allowed to go? This is the wrong world.”
Vettel went straight to see the stewards while a ripple of boos rung around the track as Hamilton was interviewed moments after stepping out of his car.
“Naturally that is not the way I wanted to win,” said Hamilton, who is now 62 points clear of Vettel.
“I forced him into an error, he went wide, and we nearly collided. It is unfortunate, but this is my race.
“You are not allowed to go straight back on to the racing line. You are supposed to come back on safely.”
Vettel then went in front of Hamilton’s parked-up Mercedes and removed the board saying he had finished first, replacing it with the second-place marker reserved for his Ferrari.
As the drivers made their way on to the podium, Vettel deliberately stood with his left foot on the top step to make his feelings clear.
“I have said enough,” added Vettel on the rostrum. “You should ask the people.”
A ripple of jeers rang out again as Hamilton spoke. “All I can say is that I didn’t make the decision,” he said. “I don’t know what they are booing at.”
Vettel jumped in. “People shouldn’t boo Lewis,” he said. “If anything they should boo at these funny decisions.”
He then walked off stage.
Vettel’s losing streak now stands at 15 races, but for much of the seventh round it looked as though he would finally win for the first time since last August’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Racing away from pole, the Ferrari driver kept Hamilton at bay, but as the Mercedes star began to reel Vettel in, the pressure showed.
Indeed, the incident had shades of Schumacher’s title-ending collision with Damon Hill in Adelaide, almost a quarter-of-a-century ago.
“He just came on to the track, so dangerous,” said Hamilton over the team radio. The stewards looked at the incident for almost 10 minutes before hitting the German with the timed penalty.
Vettel immediately protested his innocence.
“Well the hell am I supposed to go?” he yelled. “They are stealing this race from us. I had nowhere to go. Seriously, I had nowhere to go.”
With nine world championships between them, Vettel and Hamilton raced on, but the Ferrari man was unable to shake off the Briton.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished fifth ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.