Seven winners in seven races – you couldn’t have written a better start to the season. It was a race full of surprises, which opposed many of the stereotypes seen at the Canadian GP over the past few years. On the whole, it was a wonderful advertisement of Formula One in North America, and one can only hope that the US GP is such a thriller. But what was the real story of this weekend?
Lewis Hamilton was constantly radioing his engineers during the race asking “am I hitting the target?”, and it was clear that he was not entirely sure that this was the right strategy. However, he dug his team out of a considerable hole to pass both Vettel and Alonso, and take a superb win. Hamilton also deserves great credit for holding off Perez and Grosjean, who both drove terrifically to only stop once and still have life in their tyres at the end of both stints. McLaren will be thanking Lewis for dousing them when their tyres were well and truly on fire. The second stop saw another mistake by the pit crew, and could have cost Lewis the win had it not been for Ferrari and Red Bull’s miscalculations. Hamilton’s engineer was very calm in dealing with his driver’s concerns, and told him to ‘giddy up’ at the right moments. Hamilton was fortunate to be on the right tyres at the right time, but did amazingly well to take the win. McLaren will be thankful of the mid-race cloud cover, which brought the track temperature down by just a few degrees, but enough to give them an advantage. Red victory shirts all round when it could just as easily been red faces.
Formula One is all about being pragmatic – doing the right thing at the right time which will result in the greatest reward. Although Ferrari may not have been leading going into the theoretical round of second stops, surely after seeing McLaren mess up the stop they would have pitted Alonso? Okay, it was handing an opportunity to Vettel, but it would have given them a great chance of beating Hamilton. The decision gave Alonso a chance of winning, as Ferrari differed from McLaren’s strategy, and it was an aggressive move by the Italian marque. It quickly became apparent that it was not the right move, but Ferrari remained astute by refusing to pit. Again, it may have seemed like the right move at the time, but eventually it has cost them not only serious points, but the championship lead also. Red Bull pitted Vettel as soon as they realised the gamble had not paid off, and he managed to snatch a good 4th place. Both teams will be licking their wounds seeing Hamilton on the top step, which was undoubtedly within reach for Ferrari and Red Bull.
Grosjean and Perez Prove Pirelli’s Do Work
A one stop around Canada? Unheard of before 2012. Even the Bridgestones required a minimum of 3 stops at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve. However, Grosjean and Perez bucked the trend by only visiting the pits once, and it was a truly fantastic display of careful driving from both drivers. Perez was still pulling out quick laps long after Alonso and Vettel had pitted for fresh rubber, and ultimately he was able to jump from 15th to 3rd after 70 laps. Neither of them were spectacular in their passing, but they did have the quality that gifts victories – speed. It is quicker to have 30 laps of 1:15s than 15 laps of 1:14s before pitting around this track, and therefore, it worked perfectly for these teams. The fact that we saw all of the top 5 on different strategies proves that Pirelli’s “predictability” and ability to determine the race winner is simply mythical. Five drivers, five strategies, all five could have won the race. Thank you Pirelli.
A really tricky weekend for Mercedes. They were supposed to be mixing with the big boys thanks to their DRS system, but this was ultimately their undoing. Rosberg drove well to pick up 6th place, but if he wants to be in the championship tussle come the end of the season, he will need to improve. As for Schumacher, it was a 5th DNF is 7 races. You can hardly blame him for any of the retirements, but the truth of the story? He has two points. For a team that wants to try and challenge for titles, that is simply not good enough. The pressure is on Schumacher. Yes, he has been quicker this season, but to finish first, first you have to finish. This weekend’s calamity? The DRS flap would not shut. This is quite a bizzare failure, but also a scary one. Imagine going through Copse flat out, only to find your rear wing is still open? It proves that the system is not fool proof, and has cost Schumacher yet another chance of points.
Are We Seeing Progress at HRT?
HRT came to Canada saying that they would have a “special” wing for the weekend. Like everyone else, Richland F1 simply said ‘yeah, funny’, and pencilled them in at the back of the grid (de la Rosa ahead of Karthikeyan, of course). However, they were actually the quickest team through the speed trap for the entire weekend. That’s right – quickest. If they were to bring this wing to a high speed track such as Monza, could we see more variations of success at the Spanish team? de la Rosa was particularly impressive, outqualifying both Marussia cars, and this has made many question just how much better the Russian team is than HRT? Frankly, they both need to improve if they are to remain in the sport, but HRT can take heart from a good weekend, despite two DNFs.
The Life of Richland F1
Richland F1′s team is renowned for providing top quality coverage of Formula One, and every now and then, our reporters get the opportunity to attend a Grand Prix. Two of our North American correspondents managed to make it to Montreal this weekend, and were certainly doing a good job. Mike Caruso was updating us before and after the race with what the weather was doing, and his tips for the weekend. Likewise, Ernie Black was taking notes during practice, and despite feeling “like a dweeb”, he managed to pick up some fantastic information, and ultimately predict that Hamilton would win the race. Not only did they get to watch the racing, but they event found time to share a pint of Bud after qualifying. This is what Richland F1 is all about – Formula One, making connections, and giving the fans what they want.
A McLaren Swag Bag? Yes Please!
Finally, a plug of Richland F1′s very cool competition! You could win a McLaren goodie bag worth £71, which includes a 2012 team shirt, a 2012 cap, and a 2012 lanyard – all for free! All you have to do to enter the competition is visit our competition page, and follow the instructions. Good luck to those of you entering.
An eventful weekend indeed, but ultimately F1 is the big winner here. Canada saw a race of true class, and it was a battle of not only the cars, but the strategists. Roll on Valencia. Frankly, if the European GP is exciting, then we are onto a winner.
Photos courtesy of formula1.com and @GOGGS_ON_F1