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Hamilton's F1 championship hopes take a blow after being forced to retire

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MONTREAL - Lewis Hamilton's Formula One championship hopes took a serious blow in Montreal.

Hamilton lost more ground to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg after being forced to retire from the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon due to brake failure.

Against all expectations, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo took the checkered flag for his first grand prix win, followed closely behind by Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg's second-place finish gave him an additional 18 points for 140 on the year, and the lead in the championship standings. Hamilton remains in second place, 22 points behind his teammate.

It all started to unravel on lap 46 for Hamilton, who started the race in second place and spent most of the day challenging Rosberg for the lead. Both men entered the pits for a soft-tire change, giving Felipe Massa the lead — the first car other than a Mercedes to lead at a grand prix this year.

Exiting the pits, Hamilton rejoined just ahead of Rosberg. On that same lap, the 2008 world champion ran wide at the hairpin and was passed by Rosberg, with their two cars seemingly making contact. Looking to immediately retake his teammate, Hamilton cut the corner, running over the chicane in the process.

That's when smoke began to emerge from the back of Hamilton's car, which subsequently lost a lot of speed. A technical issue with the engine overheated the Mercedes' rear brakes, and the active driver with the best record at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was forced to retire.

It was Hamilton's second retirement of the year after leaving the Australian Grand Prix on lap three when one of his cylinders failed.

"When you have DNFs (Did Not Finish), it's hard to fight for a world championship," said Hamilton, who watched the latter half of the race from the team paddock. "I lost some points now to Nico. I just have to keep my head up, look forward to the next race and hope that I come back strong."

Hamilton says he was still rooting for Rosberg after leaving the track despite the widening gap between both Mercedes cars in the standings.

"Every point will matter," said Hamilton. "But you know, these are experiences we learn as a team. We get stronger, and whatever happened today, we learn from our mistakes."

The Mercedes race cars, winners of every F1 event this year and seemingly impervious prior to the Canadian Grand Prix, gave Hamilton and Rosberg trouble all day.

On lap 37, both drivers reported a slight loss of speed and power, their lap times dipping two seconds below their best. The slowdown, cause by a malfunction in the cars' Energy Recovery Systems, allowed the trailing pack to gain some ground. On lap 44, the Mercedes team told Rosberg over radio that they couldn't do anything to resolve the issue.

Hamilton said the team was expecting some difficulties at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve because it is a course that demands hard braking.

"We thought that we would be okay to manage it," he said. "And that is why we were going at the pace we were going. When I jumped (Rosberg) in the stop, I was thinking, 'Wow, what an amazing feeling.' Then straight away that lap, the brakes failed. There was nothing I could do."

"It was very worrying in that moment because we have the same car and we were both trying to manage our brakes already. It didn't happen on my car, fortunately."

On the final lap of the race, with Ricciardo guaranteed victory, Felipe Massa made a final push for the podium, but was taken out by Sergio Perez in the process.

Having already passed Vettel, and gunning for third, Massa was in a good position to overtake Perez on the inside into the first corner. But the Force India driver changed his racing line at the last second, turning slightly left into Massa, enough for the cars' wheels to catch.

Both drivers were sent flying into the wall with a tremendous impact. They were then given preliminary medical checks at the track, and were subsequently taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure. They were discharged shortly thereafter.

A few hours after the accident, Formula One stewards judged Perez was at fault for the crash, and hit the Mexican driver with a five-place grid penalty to take effect in the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix.

Notes: Hamilton has the best record at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve amongst active drivers with three victories. … The track temperature was 45 degrees Celsius at the start of the race. … This was Kimi Raikkonen's 200th career Grand Prix race. … The top-10 drivers started the race on supersoft tires. … The race was interrupted on the first lap when Marussia teammates Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi collided after just three corners.

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