Watch: spectacular crash ends Brendon Hartley's Canadian Grand Prix
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New Zealander Brendon Hartley has crashed heavily on the opening lap of the Canadian Grand Prix after tangling with the Williams of Lance Stroll.
The Le Mans winner qualified well, putting his Toro Rosso Honda on the 12th spot of the grid but was squeezed by the local driver shortly after the start on the outside of a right-hand corner.
He made heavy contact with the wall and his car nearly flipped over before coming to a rest.
"Yeah I'm fine," a disappointed Hartley said to his team over the radio. "He just ran me out of room."
Despite walking back to the track's medical centre on his own, Hartley has gone to hospital for precautionary scans.
Stroll was disappointed to miss out on completing his home event and explained the incident as he saw it.
"I had a good start and gained a few positions," the Canadian said. "I was up to 13th.
Going into turn five I was side by side with Brendon – the car got loose on me. I corrected it but it was too late and I touched him. There wasn't enough room for both of us so into the wall."
Stroll felt neither driver was really at fault.
"It is racing – things like that happen. First lap, you are close, side by side and that is how it goes some time."
It is a cruel blow to Hartley's Formula 1 hopes. He had been under serious pressure to keep his seat with rumours surfacing this week that his Toro Rosso team approached Formula 2 star Lando Norris to take over the drive.
Hartley's improved pace in Montreal came at a crucial time as he out-qualified teammate Pierre Gasly with a new engine package.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel led the entire race to take the lead of the championship standings.
"Perfect is a good way to describe it," Vettel said. "I said yesterday how much this place means for Ferrari. To have a race like we had today was unbelievable. After a long stretch that Ferrari didn't win here, I looked around and the people were happy.
"There's still a long way to go [in the championship] so I'm not too bothered. [Getting to the lead of the championship] is a good side-effect."
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finished second with the Red Bull Renault of Max Verstappen completing the podium.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth in the second Red Bull while reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton settled for fifth in his Mercedes.
Hartley's Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly just missed out on a point-scoring finish in 11th.
- NZ Herald