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F1: Mercedes faces ‘major wake-up call’ after Canadian GP, loss of points lead

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MONTREAL (AP) — Mercedes arrived at the Canadian Grand Prix without the correct tires or an expected engine upgrade and left Montreal trailing in the Formula One championship standings.

Ferrari returned to the top of the podium at the track named for Gilles Villeneuve for the first time since 2004, with Sebastian Vettel going from the pole to the checkered flag to finish six seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes on Sunday.

Erstwhile points leader Lewis Hamilton, who was aiming for a record-tying seventh victory in Montreal, struggled to finish fifth and fell one point behind Vettel in the standings.

“I’m the opposite of confident,” Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said. “I think this is a major wake-up call for every member of the team. Everybody needs to assess how to improve performance. … Those marginal gains are going to make all the difference.”

Despite having the championship leader and the three-time defending Montreal champion, Mercedes leaves Canada second-guessing its strategy to bring fewer sets of the softest tires to the track, a move that Wolff conceded left Hamilton and Bottas at a disadvantage in qualifying. The team also was unable to deliver a reliable engine upgrade in time for the race.

Without it, Hamilton found himself losing power even up until the end. Adding to his problems was a cooling issue that required an early pit.

“From the start I was down on power and my engine was overheating. I couldn’t get the temperatures down, so I just thought it was going to fail,” he said. “Every single lap I was waiting for the power to just drop away and disappear, but it kept going.”

Vettel was never really challenged, picking up his third victory of the season and 25 points to erase Hamilton’s 14-point lead; the Briton salvaged 10 points with his worst result of the year. Bottas finished second for the fourth time in seven races.

“It was a tough day in the office today, but I’m just very grateful that I finished today’s race and score some points,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure in the next couple of days it will get more and more painful. But it could get a lot worse. I could have had a DNF (did not finish). I’m just grateful the engine made it.”

Hamilton said he would never doubt the team’s ability to fix its problems.

“That would be the first sign of weakness, and my mind is not weak,” he said. “I have complete confidence in my guys, and I’m putting all my energy toward them.”

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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