Canadian GP – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Pure opinion. None of this is said with any malice, although I’m sure there are some who will take it as such! Enjoy it for what it is, and by all means, let me know your thoughts and opinions as to why I am right or wrong. The Good:
What a brilliant drive that was from Lewis Hamilton. A better than expected qualifying session saw him line up in the front row of the grid, and from there sheer faith and confidence in his car and his ability propelled him to the win in Montreal. Hamiltons first stint was controlled, not overstressing his tyres, waiting for the temperatures to come to him. When they did, he reeled in Vettel with ease. Then after Vettel pitted, Hamiltons lap was quick enough that despite his anti-stall kicking in in the pits, he was able to leapfrog the German and take the lead. Even when Alonso then did the same to him a lap later, Hamilton remained calm and used his one lap tyre advantage to overtake Alonso in the DRS zone. His second and third stints were even better – refreshingly about pure pace – and he pitted at exactly the right time. Alonso and Vettel were gaining rapidly, and of what turned out to be more pressing concern, he managed to get out ahead of Grosjean. The rest is history as they say. Hamiltons consistency this season has been superb, he has scored points in every race and visited the podium 4 times. Who is this man and what has he done with Lewis Hamilton?
It would appear that if Romain Grosjean can make his way around the first few laps without causing any incidents, then he is almost nailed on to score decent points. His results this season are as follows – Retired (2nd lap), Retired (3rd lap), 6th, 3rd, 4th, Retired (1st lap), 2nd. How bizarre. Grosjeans performance in Canada however was mighty, if a little confusing. Starting in 7th, he immediately lost a place, toiled behind a Mercedes for over 30 laps, and seemed to be going nowhere no matter what the strategy. However, his tyres had apparently not suffered behind the other car, and once he got clean air, he set about laying down consistent lap times that would allow him to reach the end of the race on tyres that had done 50 laps. The hotter it is, the better that Lotus seems to perform.
Another podium for the young Mexican, and another example of how he has an unrivalled ability to look after his tyres. Perez qualified a disappointing 15th and even he didn’t expect to get much from there. He was, however, allowed to choose his tyres, and went with the harder compound to start the race. Come the first pit stop window, and with people pitting all around him, he found himself in 7th without having had to really do anything other than drive sensibly. Perez finally pitted on Lap 42 for supersoft tyres, and came out of the pits only to be the victim of a wonderful opportunist overtake by Rosberg. No matter, this still left Perez in a creditable 8th place and he continued managing his tyres well for another few laps before unleashing pure, unadulterated speed. Fastest lap followed fastest lap, and when it came to overtaking Alonso and Vettel, it was almost too easy. Perez finished just 5 seconds off the race winner and only 2.5 seconds behind 2nd place. If the race had been 5 laps longer…
Great strategy from Sauber with Perez – playing to a drivers strengths may sound obvious, but still. I know that they didn’t have much to lose with him starting in 15th, but in a season like this having the confidence to do what Sauber did deserves a tip of the hat. On top of that Kobayashi also managed to finish in the points too, meaning not only did they overtake Williams in the Constructors table, but are now only 11 points behind Mercedes.
I am fully aware that Massa only just finished in the top 10, but it is his attitude that sneaks him into this section this time around. After the season he has had thus far, he would have been forgiven for being overly happy with his best qualifying position of the year. Not so, Felipe was mainly annoyed with himself that he had lost some time on his flying lap and perhaps thrown away a place or two. Even then when it came to the race, he started superbly before his spin at Turn 1 ruined his strategy. From there, he did well to finish where he did, maintaining his pace on his compromised tyres throughout. Still not happy at the end of the race though, and it is this recently rediscoved determination that will please both his fans and his employers.
7 different winners in 7 different races. And neither Lotus has picked up the win that they are clearly capable of yet. With Michael Schumacher and Sergio Perez also believing that race wins are within their grasp, this season could break many more records yet. The Bad:
Credit to Ferrari and Alonso for going for it, but they must have known that those tyres just were not going to last the course. By the time they became aware of Grosjeans pace, it was too late, although Alonso has stated that they were covering Vettel. Which begs the question why they didn’t pit the lap after Vettel did. Seeing as Massa, who had pitted earlier than Alonso, was having problems, you wonder why Ferrari didn’t go for the damage limitation that Alonso himself has mentioned so much this season. Pity for Alonso really, because while his tyres were working, he stayed with Hamilton and kept Vettel behind him with no problems, and it is arguably this that he will take forward to the next race with him.
A strategy miscalculation that cost Sebastian Vettel a shot at winning the race, and the lead in the World Championship. Vettel drove brilliantly on Saturday to grab pole, and drove pretty well on Sunday to be honest. When his team finally made the call to bring him in around 10 laps too late, his role was merely to ensure that he got past Alonso, as once he had come out behind the one stopping pair, 4th was the best he could muster. In true Vettel style though he set the fastest lap on the last lap of the race, just to show everyone what might have been.
Ok, so McLaren won the race, fair enough, the strategy was good, Hamiltons drive was perfect, all looks well, right? Wrong. Button managed to three stop his way to 16th place, just a few seconds behind the Caterhams. Now, Button has not turned into a bad driver overnight, and not he nor McLaren seem able to put their finger on what exactly is going on. The worry for McLaren is, if one of their cars can come 1st and 2nd in the opening three races of the season, then turn into a backmarker a few races later, what is to say that it can’t happen to the other if they don’t know what is wrong, or how to correct it?
Mercedes seem to be inventing new ways for Schumacher to retire, and this time was the oddest of all. With his DRS stuck open, he should never have been allowed to leave the pits in the first place, and when he did come back in a lap later, the Mercedes engineers, err… let’s say industrial, attempts to fix the problem were met with no dice. And despite a lot of the whisperings I’ve heard lately – no it is not karma – and no – Michael does not deserve all this ill fortune.
Paul Di Resta did very well to qualify in 8th place, but even then he was lamenting the fact that he felt he should have been a place or two higher. He showed exactly that at the start of the race, running in 5th place, but then once he pitted early, Di Resta struggled to get heat into the tyres and to make the passes on people he needed to to make his strategy work. Force India will have expected to pick up some points in Canada, so a finish of 11th and 12th is disappointing.
Raikkonen did say he was disappointed after the race. That was pretty much all he said. Thing is though, when you are being outqualified by your less experienced teammate regularly, it can cause that Kimi. The Ugly:
Confused and lost. The two words that Button used to describe how he felt after the race. There is no way to sugar coat this result for Button, even if the team missed out on vital practice on Friday due to their oil leak. He also stated that it was ‘the worst race he could remember’. As mentioned above, Button has not turned into a bad driver all of a sudden, but he and the team need to work out what is going wrong and fast. The only reason he is seen as still being in the title race is because of the unpredictability of the season. As it is, he is already nearly 2 race wins behind the leader… and when that leader is your teammate, that causes even more of an issue. Canada was supposed to be where Jenson returned to the scene of his greatest triumph and announce that his bad run was over. Instead it was a race where he finished just 14 seconds ahead of the Caterhams, over a lap away from the race winner, and with yet more questions than answers.
A poor weekend for the Williams team. A practice smash for Senna, a qualifying smash for Maldonado (when he looked well set to make it into Q3) and a gearbox change meant that the Williams’ lined up 16th and 22nd for the Canadian Grand Prix. They eventually crossed the line in 13th and 17th, which meant that they were overtaken by Sauber in the Constructors championship following this race. Closer inspection of Williams’ results this season show that Senna has only finished in the points three times, and Maldonado only twice, results that surely belie the true pace of a car that has won a race this season.
Nothing has really been said about Toro Rosso this season. That’s because they are not really achieving anything of note. Ricciardo finished this race where he started, and Vergne just behind him following a poor qualifying session, even by his standards. Wonder what Buemi and Alguersuari make of it all?
In all fairness, this was the first time that at least one of the HRTs didn’t make it to the finish line. They were the actually the first two retirees from the race, and despite De La Rosas admirable attempts in qualifying, they do not seem to be making any progress whatsoever. Want to be a guest writer on VitalF1.com?
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