MONTREAL - Lewis Hamilton pumped his fists in the air after claiming his second straight Formula One victory, and then headed to victory lane for a little shadow boxing.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” he radioed to his crew. “That was for Muhammad Ali.”
Leaving from the pole position, Hamilton gave up the lead on Sebastian Vettel’s audacious move at the start, but then regained it midway through the race when the German went to pit row. For the last 30 laps, Vettel’s Ferrari tried unsuccessfully to chase down the Briton.
It was the fifth win on Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for Hamilton and the 45th of his Formula One career. With the victory, he cut Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s lead in the championship standings from 24 points to nine.
Vettel was second to move into third in the points race. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was third — his best finish of the season and his sixth time collecting points in seven races. Red Bull rookie Max Verstappen, the only non-Mercedes driver to pick up a win this year, was fourth.
Ali, who died last week, was a three-time world heavyweight champion, but Hamilton could claim his fourth Formula One championship if he keeps going like this.
And if his teammate keeps going in the opposite direction.
Rosberg won the first four events of the year to establish a 43-point lead in the standings. But he and Hamilton crashed in the first lap in Barcelona, two races ago, and Rosberg came in seventh two weeks ago in Monaco. Hamilton’s victory then trimmed the lead from 43 points to 24.
Rosberg and Hamilton touched in the first lap again on Sunday, knocking the German into 10th. He worked his way back through the field and was in fifth on the penultimate lap when he tried to squeeze past Verstappen on the outside but couldn’t hold it, spinning off course.
He was able to return to the course and maintain his position.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was in the paddock before the start, hanging with the Red Bull team. Actor Michael Douglas was at the track as well, conducting the post-race interview from the podium.