Qualifying took place in damp and tricky conditions on Saturday. Despite completing installation laps on the dry tyres, drivers soon switched to the intermediate Pirelli rubber in Q1. Paul di Resta and Charles Pic both failed to make it to Q2, with Romain Grosjean being the second midfield driver in the drop-zone.
Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde were also eliminated. Light rain continued to fall in the second session. Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado, Jenson Button and Esteban Gutierrez all missed out on progressing to the top 10 shoot-out, as did Felipe Massa after the Brazilian hit the wall at turn three and caused a brief red flag.
Q3 was decided by the first runs, with the rain intensifying as the session progressed. Vettel’s 1m25.425 benchmark was good enough to break the Mercedes team’s run of pole positions, but only just.
Lewis Hamilton was just under one tenth further back in second, with Valtteri Bottas impressing in the challenging conditions in third. Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Jean-Eric Vergne, Adrian Sutil, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10 on the grid.
Despite the unsettled weather on Friday and Saturday, the 70-lap race took place under sunny skies and in dry conditions. Vettel and Hamilton maintained their positions into the tight first corner, while Bottas quickly dropped behind Rosberg and Webber.
The Finn continued to slip down the order. After falling behind Vergne’s Toro Rosso, Sutil attempted to make a move at turn three and spun. Despite eking out a considerable advantage in the early stages, Vettel suffered a scare after he brushed the wall at turn four.
The Red Bull Racing driver dived into the pits for the first time at the end of lap 16, switching his worn super-soft tyres for a fresh set of the medium compound. He only lost the lead for three laps during the race, after Hamilton ran a longer first stint and took to the pit lane on lap 19.
Vettel had it all under control and managed to emerge from his second and final pit stop on lap 54 with a sizeable advantage. He cruised to the chequered flag to register his third win of the season, extending his lead in the drivers’ championship.
The battle for second was hotly contested, with Hamilton eventually losing out to Alonso with seven laps remaining. The Ferrari driver took the runner-up spot on the podium, 14 seconds behind Vettel and 1.5 clear of his former McLaren team-mate.
Webber finished fourth despite contact late in the race with van der Garde, which damaged his front wing, as the Aussie attempted to lap the Dutchman. Rosberg was forced to stop three times – he was the only one to do so – and dropped to fifth, some way behind the second Red Bull. The German was the last driver on the lead lap.
Vergne finished a strong sixth for Toro Rosso, with di Resta recovering from a poor qualifying session to finish eighth after stopping just once. Massa finished eighth, with Raikkonen in ninth after a quiet race and Sutil in 10th despite his early spin.
Perez and Button missed out on points in 11th and 12th, which was the first time McLaren had left a race empty handed since the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Grosjean was 13th, while Bottas proved the Williams team’s disastrous dry-weather pace by slipping to 14th.
Ricciardo, Maldonado, Bianchi, Pic and Chilton completed the finishers. There were three retirements from the race. Gutierrez crashed out in the closing stages, with Hulkenberg exiting the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix due to collision damage. The German was hit by van der Garde, who also retired.
The event was marred by the tragic death of marshal Mark Robinson following an incident which occurred during the recovery of Gutierrez’s Sauber after the chequered flag.
Images courtesy of Red Bull/Getty Images and Williams Martini Racing