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VF1blog: Dominant Victory For Vettel



The 2013 Canadian Grand Prix was quite literally dominated by Sebastian Vettel. He took a lights to flag victory which more than made up for his near miss in 2011 where he lost the win on the final lap.

Even more impressive was the feat that he lapped every car up until fifth placed man Nico Rosberg. A truly formidable showing from the triple world champion.

I must start with some very sad and tragic news which emerged after the race. A marshal was unfortunately run over by a crane whilst helping to recover Esteban Gutierrez’ damaged Sauber after Sunday’s race. He was thought to be in a “critical condition” when he was airlifted to hospital but he sadly died from his injuries.

It is the first fatality in the sport since a marshal was killed at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix. The news really hit me hard and put into perspective how dangerous it is to be a marshal who’s play a main role in orchestrating a race. I would like to send my condolences to the family and friends of the brave marshal, a very sad loss of one of motorsports unsung heroes, rest in peace.

Marshals are one of the key components for orchestrating a motor race, putting their lives on the line and volunteering for their love of the sport. It just goes go show how dangerous the world of motorsport is both on and off track, huge steps forward have been made but changes still need to be made to make it safer for everyone – not just the drivers.

Practice for the race threw drivers and teams a nice curve-ball due to the wet and damp conditions. Qualifying was interesting due to the tricky track conditions and Bottas really stood out in third place. Vettel snatched pole from Hamilton but Button, Massa, Di Resta and Grosjean started way below expectations. With very limited dry running it was a step into the unknown with sunshine bathing the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on race day.

Yesterday’s race was not the thriller than many expected but it was certainly an interesting one to watch. What struck me in the early laps was the distance that Vettel managed to pull out over his challengers and the large gaps that were being established in the pack.

The start was unusually clean – there’s usually a bit more chaos due to the tight and twisty nature of the opening few corners – but Bottas dropped back through the field which was as expected. Button lost a place which did annoy me slightly and strangely it took Grosjean a fair few laps to clear the Marussia and Caterham drivers.

The pressure was on for Adrian Sutil to deliver a good result for Force India’s 100th Grand Prix but spinning at turn three on lap three didn’t help. It was a clumsy and ambitious move but thankfully he was not collected by any of the trailing pack and didn’t lose too much time. Maldonado then didn’t help either his own or Sutil’s charge when he ran into the back of the Force India at the hairpin which meant that he was gifted a drive through penalty.

Felipe Massa was definitely a driver with a point to prove and he did just that in the early stages by overtaking Perez amongst others to progress up the order. By lap 10 Vettel had a commanding lead and from that moment I always knew he would take the win unless mechanical gremlins played their part. The supersoft Pirelli’s lasted more or less as I thought they would and the front runners started to pit at the 15 lap mark. The first stops didn’t really create much change up and down the field bar the out of place one stoppers.

There was a good mid-race battle between Rosberg, Webber and Alonso which started to heat up on lap 24. By lap 27 Webber had made a number of attempts to pass the struggling Mercedes car and came close to running into the back of him at the final chicane. This put the Aussie offline and Alonso joined the fray. Rosberg was losing pace and this dropped the trio away from the leading two cars. Webber made his move with the help of DRS a few laps later and Alonso almost immediately followed him through.

What I found quite astonishing during the mid-part of the race was that Kimi Raikkonen was lapped as early as lap 34. Vettel was in such a league of his own that the Finn had to pull over to pull over in order to let the leader through. It was unbelievable that the second placed man in the drivers title was being lapped by the leader. Lapped cars proved to be a rather unwelcome obstacle for Mark Webber after he dived to the inside of Giedo van der Garde at the hairpin. The Dutch driver oddly turned in on him which created some damage to the Red Bull RB9′s front wing.

The Caterham rookie was duly given a 10 second stop-go penalty which I think was fair as he was being lapped. Had it been a car fighting for position then I think that would have been far too harsh but he left plenty of room on the inside before then cutting back, it was quite obvious by that point that Webber was alongside.

This proved to be costly clash for Webber as the loss of downforce knocked him into the clutches of Alonso. The Red Bull driver made a rare error into the hairpin and that enabled Alonso to have a clear run in past him in the DRS zone. A few laps later Giedo van der Garde was in the wars yet again after making contact with Nico Hulkenberg at the final chicane – a clash that resulted in him being given a five place grid drop for the next round – which put pay to both their races. It was an odd move as Hulkenberg appeared to move over whilst the Caterham was still there but the backmarker shouldn’t have been following him in the braking zone so closely.

Alonso was on fire, slashing the gap between himself and Lewis Hamilton in second place. The Mercedes driver simply didn’t have the pace to challenge last years top two in the title and after numerous laps closing in on the Brit, the Spaniard was through by turn one where he then continued to pull out a gap.

And so Sebastian Vettel crossed the line with a pit stop to spare, taking the win in dominant and typical Vettel style. It was a great showing from the Red Bull driver to get the monkey off his back after that last lap mistake in 2011 that cost him victory. It also means that the only track Red Bull have yet to win on is Austin, we will have to wait and see whether he can take the win there too!

So the German continued to extend his advantage to the cars behind in the championship. Alonso came home a distant second with Hamilton dropping to third, admitting that he got the “maximum” out of the car. Webber finished fourth with Rosberg unbelievably finishing fifth and last of the cars on the lead lap.

The next two drivers deserve some considerable praise. Jean-Eric Vergne crossed the line in sixth place to take his best ever finish in a Formula 1 race. It was perfect timing too as some started to discount him for Webber’s potentially vacant Red Bull seat in 2014. He had a lonely race in clear air and showed remarkable consistency.

Pirelli stressed prior to the race that a two stop strategy was the way to go. However Paul Di Resta defied convention to take seventh place after a brave one-stopper. It was another impressive and rather quiet drive from Paul as he just got his head down and drove to the required pace. He remarkably completed 57 laps on the medium compound Pirelli’s to collect another good haul of points, hats off to him. He was in a rightfully contrasting mood post-race to the anger and frustration shown after being knocked out of qualifying in the first session.

Massa had an eventful race to finish eight after overtaking a number of drivers to advance up the order. Ninth went to Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn continued his stunning run of points finishes. In fact it was his 24th consecutive race in the points which matches Michael Schumacher’s long unbroken run. Adrian Sutil had an eventful race which saw him lose part of his rear wing, spin and suffer a drive through penalty (which was a tad bit harsh) for ignoring blue flags.

It was another woeful race for McLaren. You have to look back to the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the last time both McLaren cars finished outside the points, a truly terrible weekend which kicked off in the rain on Friday with Button’s gearbox problems. Perez got close but JB was not happy after the race and rightfully so.

Grosjean managed to climb from the back of the grid to 13th without incident (perhaps he was being extra cautious) and Bottas dropped down to 14th place. It was a real shame as I was rooting for Valtteri after his stand out qualifying effort. He had a decent first stint to hold off Ricciardo and the trailing pack but his strategy just didn’t work for him.

Ricciardo finished 15th after a poor showing during the race with Maldonado dropping to 16th due to a drive through penalty. Williams had a very poor weekend again which is really disappointing. Both drivers were two laps down on the leaders which just proved how strong Vettel was.

Bianchi managed to beat Pic as best of the back markers with Chilton some way back in 19th. Gutierrez was the last retirement from the race after he crashed at turn one. Hulkenberg and van der Garde were the only other retirements which was surprising due to the close confines of the barriers.

My pre-race prediction was a close one. I got the winner right in Vettel but I didn’t expect Alonso to make so much progress and I expected Hamilton to have more pace in his Mercedes. My VET HAM ALO prediction wasn’t far off though!

I also have to pick my drivers of the day. I can’t discount Vettel but Di Resta and Vergne both drove storming races. Di Resta made his strategy work whilst Vergne impressed me with his consistency and the way he managed to pull out such a gap on those behind. Those three names are my pick for driver of the day, what are yours? Let me know!

Mark Webber managed to take fastest lap for the race despite missing part of his front wing. It must have agitated Vettel slightly to miss out on getting the pole, win and fastest lap as he is always striving for perfection and to get the full house.

I must also mention the disgraceful and disrespectful booing on the podium for Vettel. Whilst I respect that people have their favourite drivers and some fans take a disliking to certain racers but that does no way make it acceptable to boo the race winner just because he beat your favourite. The Alonso fans were deeply respectful to Vettel on the podium and it got me very angry indeed because it’s a sport, he won fair and square and should be nothing but commended for his dominant win.

Overall the race somewhat fell short of my expectations due to the dominance of Vettel at the front and the large gaps to the cars behind. We had a number of good pockets of cars battling but there were too many cars on their own and the field spread was very large. Not a classic Canadian Grand Prix a la 2011 or 2012 but still one that I thoroughly enjoyed watching and seeing how it all panned out.

A very sad start to this column but now the F1 paddock looks forward to Silverstone – my home race! The British GP always has a special atmosphere and buzz around it and the drivers love the circuit. It is a real classic drivers track despite recent changes and the facilities are greatly improved. I very much look forward to seeing who comes out on top in three weeks time!

Author: Jack Leslie

TWITTER: @JackLeslieF1

puref1.com


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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday June 11 2013

Time: 6:33PM

 

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