Victory in Canada means as much as first win for Lewis Hamilton

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer

Lewis Hamilton said his victory in the Canadian Grand Prix meant as much to him as his maiden victory at the same track five years ago.

The McLaren driver became the seventh different winner in as many races in 2012 and takes the championship lead, two points ahead of Fernando Alonso.

"Every victory is special, every victory is new and fresh," he said.

"We've had incredible victories and it feels just as special as my first one here, if not a little bit more."

Hamilton took the 18th victory of his career after a race-long fight with Ferrari's Alonso and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

But Hamilton's two biggest rivals slipped down behind Lotus's Romain Grosjean and Sauber's Sergio Perez at the finish after their gamble on doing one pit stop, compared to Hamilton's two, failed to come off.

Vettel took fourth after making a late second stop for fresh tyres, while Alonso was fifth after sticking it out with fading grip.

Hamilton admitted the victory had come as a relief after waiting so long for his first win of the year, despite starting the season with the fastest car.

"When I came across the line, I was like: 'Finally, thank goodness, thank God,'" he said.

"Great, incredible feeling. I don't know what to say. I'm so excited and so happy.

"I knew it was going to be an incredibly tough race, I knew the Ferraris and Red Bulls were very strong with their long runs."

Hamilton took the lead after the first pit stops, which saw Vettel slip from first to third behind the Englishman and Alonso.

The 2008 champion then had to fight his way back up from third after he made a second stop with 20 laps to go.

"There was never a moment I thought I couldn't win, but I knew from the start it was going to be tough," he said.

"I was always very wary of Fernando. Sebastian, after the first stint he started to come back to me I thought: 'OK, I can fight with Sebastian.' But I knew Fernando is always there, hiding, waiting to pounce.

"I thought he would pick up more pace in the second stint but I was able to match him so I knew I'd be able to fight with him. What a great feeling to have a two-stop and still come through the field."

Although Hamilton now heads the championship after bouncing back following three disappointing races in Bahrain, Spain and Monaco, he said he expected the season to remain close.

"The championship is proving to be very unpredictable, there could well be an eighth winner," he said.

"Having the win, 25 points, I'm thinking: 'This is a great job and now I'm only two points ahead of Fernando.'

"So it's so close, I've got to win some more. So I've got to keep pushing the team so we can improve."

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