Race Review - Canadian Grand Prix
Welcome to the PureF1.com race review for the Canadian Grand Prix.
VitalF1.com and PureF1.com will be linking up throughout the season to bring you comprehensive coverage of this seasons Formula One World Championship.
With the latest news coming from VitalF1 and race analysis from PureF1, we will have every angle covered. Hamilton Makes History In Canada
It may not have lived up to its 2011 predecessor but the Canadian Grand Prix provided plenty of thrills and spills and added to the history books by giving Formula 1 its seventh different winner from the seventh race of the season. After a strong Qualifying yesterday, I did think Sebastian Vettel could run away with the win but it seems fate was on the side of Lewis Hamilton. He drove magnificently at the circuit that gave him his first ever win to win his first Grand Prix of the 2012 season and McLaren’s first win since the first race in Melbourne (a lot of firsts)!
Despite Sebastian getting a good enough start and pulling out of the DRS zone when he needed to, he just did not have the pace he had in abundance yesterday. Once Lewis started getting close to him it was clear the McLaren was stronger on the day and the position would soon be lost. Red Bull turned to pit stop strategy but after McLaren’s stint in the pits they emerged victorious meaning the undercut had not worked for the reigning champions. Alonso stayed out slightly longer than his rivals and led the race during that period and when he made the inevitable pit stop, he retained his lead. This was not to last for long though as Lewis eventually passed him with the help of DRS and McLaren’s fine straight-line speed. As Hamilton was pulling away from Alonso, Alonso was pulling away from Vettel and all 3 had some clear air to run in. Tyre management was clearly crucial and, with no Pirelli data following last year’s rain-filled race, a 2-stop strategy was what we were expecting. It was McLaren’s plan and, as they kept telling Lewis, they also thought others would pit again. As it turned out they were the only team to pit their driver from the battle for the lead. Another error led to a delayed stint in the pit lane for Lewis and he knew he had some work to do. He began to cut the lead Alonso and Vettel had over him at an incredible rate and he demonstrated just what a car can do on fresh rubber. As the tyres fell away from Vettel and Alonso it was apparent that their 1-stop strategy would fail them and Lewis passed Vettel with great ease. The German didn’t even put up a fight; with DRS and fresher tyres at his disposal there was no stopping Hamilton and Vettel would only have hurt his tyres more had he kept up the fight. 2 laps later Fernando Alonso would learn this very lesson. Lewis took a few glimpses at the Ferrari before he passed it on lap 64 to take the lead and his first win of the 2012 season. It was now just a matter of bringing it home for Hamilton and he did exactly that.
Fernando Alonso’s woes continued. He’d hurt his already pained tyres in the battle with Lewis and Romain Grosjean was hot on his back. 2 laps after Lewis passed him the Frenchman did the same. He was followed by Sergio Perez and the Mexican was able to do what he missed out on in Malaysia; he passed Alonso to take his second podium of the season so far! Sebastian Vettel couldn’t manage his tyres any longer and had no choice but to switch to a 2-stop. Perhaps had he done this earlier, he too could have had a spot on the podium. Nevertheless, with new tyres, he too was able to add to Alonso’s troubles and climbed up to fourth. He also set the fastest lap of the race at the end of the Grand Prix showing what he was capable of on newer tyres and low fuel. If the race was a few laps longer who knows where he would have finished…
Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez performed astonishingly to take the two podium places behind Hamilton. Both are enjoying great starts to this season and even though Grosjean has faced criticisms because of his starts and the incidents he gets involved in, he came through the pack to take 2nd. Perez started in 13th and, as he was also on a 1-stop like Grosjean, used the degradation others were facing to his advantage. This means a lot for the drivers and their teams and I think Lotus needed this podium to boost the team and prove that they can return to podium winning ways. Kimi Raikkonen finished 8th in the other Lotus which, although not as high up as you’d expect, was an improvement on his Qualifying result. He will want to do better than this and return to his early-season form. Getting beaten in such a way by his younger, less experienced teammate won’t feel too nice either… Kamui Kobayashi ended up in 9th meaning this was, all in all, a very positive race for the Sauber team and Chelsea FC are getting the dividends from their sponsorship deal. Results like this are crucial for a team like Sauber as it attracts the attention of more sponsors meaning more funding for research and development. I expect big things from this team next season and from their drivers. If they stay with Sauber, that is.
Let’s talk about Mercedes… Nico Rosberg finished 6th and enjoyed a few battles along the way to this result. Tussles with Mark Webber and Felipe Massa stand out and he did beat both of them by the end of the race. He qualified in 5th so it would be slightly disappointing to lose a place but his disappointment won’t compare to Michael Schumacher’s. The veteran German driver’s bad luck continued and he must be thinking that he just can’t catch a break this season. This time it was a problem with his DRS wing that ended his race. Unusually, the flap wouldn’t close and as that is a clear breach of rules, to have the wing open outside of DRS zones, the team frantically tried to force it shut. With no technology to do this they were using all the strength in their arms but the wing was having none of it. Another DNF for Schumacher means more questions over his F1 future will be raised.
The bad luck continued for Mr Jenson Button as well. He’d hoped his alternative tyre strategy would help him move up a few places but he made the mistake of using a set of tyres to set a timed lap in Q3. Has he followed Sebastian Vettel’s strategy in Monaco he may have had a different race. Or maybe not… He struggled to get his tyres up to temperature and wasn’t at one with them for the duration of the Grand Prix. Despite starting on the harder of the two tyres, Button couldn’t stay out longer than others and his pit stops and customary lack of grip left him finishing in 16th position. His performances in recent races are of stark contrast to his teammate’s. The incredibly lacklustre display we saw from him today means that he has only picked up 2 points from the last 4 races. He had a great start in Melbourne by winning the first race but form has slipped for the world champion since then and I’m sure he too is at a loss as to why this is happening. He told the BBC that he is “confused and very lost” after what he described as probably his “worst race for many, many years”. Can he turn things around in time for Valencia and the European Grand Prix?
Felipe Massa didn’t do very well by finishing in 10th after what was his best Qualifying this season. He dropped four places but the fact that his teammate lost the same amount of places during the last few laps of the race may act as some sort of comfort. Although I doubt that. He did still finish 5 places above him. Paul Di Resta also failed to capitalise on a strong Qualifying and he just missed out on points. He finished 11th, just ahead of teammate Niko Hulkenberg.
So Canada delivered the goods and helped to rewrite history. Lewis Hamilton’s win helped McLaren reduce the gap to Red Bull in the Constructors’ but they know that you need to get both drivers finishing solidly in the points to win that championship. As far as the drivers’ championship is concerned, everything has been blown wide open. Hamilton leads it. Alonso is 2 points behind. Vettel is a further 1 behind. Who knows how this season will end but there are still 13 whole Grands Prix for us to enjoy before we see a champion being crowned. More pressing matters include the European Grand Prix which takes place in 2 weeks’ time. Can we get 8 winners from 8 races? We’ll find out soon enough…
Author: Rick McCabe
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