No doubts about it, the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix was a thriller. A first time winner in Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes’ run of wins brought to an abrupt end by power issues and a big accident on the last lap that led to fisticuffs on Twitter. Add in perhaps the most dramatic final five laps of a grand prix in years, and you have a race that looks likely to go down as a classic. Prepare to be wooed by Dan Paddock, in Richland F1’s Alternative Review.
Dan’s very much the man
Daniel Ricciardo, where to start? In just a year he has gone from rightfully worrying about his future at Toro Rosso after a series of thumpings from Jean-Eric Vergne, to being a winner in F1.
Certainly, there was an element of luck apparent in his first win, without the MGU-K issues it is unlikely that anyone aside from either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton would have won. But the fact is that on the very first occasion that Mercedes have looked vulnerable this year, it was Ricciardo, not Vettel, who was there to pick up the pieces.
Take nothing away from Sebastian, he was excellent all weekend long, his qualifying lap to haul the under-powered Red Bull onto third on the grid was particularly exceptional, but at that one single moment when a victory was up for grabs, he found himself unceremoniously stuck behind the Sergio Perez’s Force India. Ricciardo though, he was up the road forcing his way past the ailing Mercedes of Rosberg for the race lead and eventual win, his first in Formula One.
The Australian’s win was hugely popular, not just amongst fans, but also journalists and his own contemporaries, with tributes flooding out in the early hours of Monday morning. It is without doubt the most popular win that I have experienced in my short time covering the sport, which in hindsight might not be saying much considering that the first ten races I covered were won by just two different men, one a fan of peak caps and dogs, and the other with a tendency to upset people when he waves his finger about.
Daniel’s Canada win might not magically fix Red Bull’s still-apparent power issues, but considering the state the team was in when they arrived in Australia for the season opener, they must be pleased with how far they have come on since then, especially to win at the most unlikeliest of circuits.
Ta-rah Adrian Newey
Yep, Adrian Newey is just about done with F1. On Sunday morning Red Bull confirmed that the man who masterminded their rise from paddock class clowns to four-time champions is ready for a new challenge and will be reducing his F1 role after 2015.
The 2015 Red Bull will be the last car that the aero wizard will pen for the Formula One team, even if he is set to remain in an advisory role with the organisation, whilst also working on other motorsport projects for the fizzy drinks firm.
Newey’s vocal opposition to the current rule set started late last year, and it has been clear since then that he was not pleased with the restrictions evident in the new regulations. It seems that a man who has won just about everything conceivable in Formula One has simply had enough.
What he will delve into from here is still an unknown, with rumours of a sportscar project, a road car and a link-up with Ben Ainslie for a shot at the America’s Cup all touted.
Regardless, Newey will be a hard man to replace as the head of the Red Bull’s aero department. With Peter Prodromou pinched by McLaren it will be interesting to see who Red Bull look to appoint, be they from within the current design devision, or from another team, which could lead to further legal wranglings.
Hogies’ and MGU-K’s
Not often this season has there been a need to feel sorry for Mercedes, well unless you’re a Hamilton fan. Poised to make history with a sixth consecutive 1-2 finish seemingly on the cards, the teams efforts came crumbling down in the space of just a couple of laps, as both cars suddenly slowed with MGU-K issues. A round of pitstops later and Lewis Hamilton was out of a race for the second time this year. Queue a Twitter meltdown.
While the prospect of Abu Dhabi’s double points bonanza means the likelihood is that the drivers’ title battle is unlikely to be settled until the final lap of the last grand prix, the failure for Hamilton, coupled with Rosberg’s second place now leaves the Brit 22 points adrift of the his team-mate in the drivers’ championship.
After the disappointment of being beaten outright in Monaco by Nico, Lewis will be bitterly disappointed to have haemorrhaged more points to his rival at a track that he was widely tipped to dominate at. Hamilton will have his fingers crossed that some of his own bad luck ends up on the other side of the garage, otherwise it’ll be a slow struggle to eat back into Rosberg’s points advantage.
Canadian Grand Prix problems aside, expect Mercedes to once again be strong in Austria. If the reliability of the W05 holds, you have to assume that the race winner will be one of the Mercedes men, such is the clear dominance of the Bracklet-based squad.
Handbags at Marussia
After a fairytale ending to Marussia’s Monaco Grand Prix, as Jules Bianchi collected not just his, but also his team’s first points in Formula One, the conclusion to the team’s Canadian race weekend was an absolute nightmare, as both Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi came together on the opening lap, with both cars were eliminated on the spot.
With just 11 cars still running at the finish, Sunday’s race would have been a prime opportunity for the Banbury-based outfit to follow up their Monaco points with another strong performance. Instead, their were blushes all round as the team was forced into an early packing up job while the two drivers took to blaming each other for the accident.
Aside from the needless clash during the race, the team once again demonstrated good pace across the weekend, with clear evidence during qualifying on Saturday that the team is making steady progress on the stagnant Sauber – who were awful again – while dropping Caterham – both of whose drivers failed to finish.
Marussia will be keen to forget Canada, but with Sauber and Caterham both failing to score the team holds onto that elusive ninth place in the constructors’ championship. They may have missed a perfect opportunity to add to their points tally last weekend, but things are certainly looking up for the boys and girls at Marussia.
Perez vs Massa
It’s the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix, and Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez have just clashed at the entry to turn one, putting both drivers into the barriers and out of the race on the spot.
At first glance it appears that Massa simply runs straight into the back of the Force India before skating across the track at high speed, narrowly avoiding Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull at the apex of turn one before slamming heavily into the barriers.
Both drivers are extracted from their cars as a safety car is deployed, securing Ricciardo’s win a lap early.
Following a brief check-up at the on-track medical centre, the pair are whisked to a local hospital for precautionary checks. Given the all clear, Massa and Perez are discharged and head off on their merry way, that is until the Mexican, tried in absence, is slapped with a five-place grid penalty by the race stewards for causing the accident.
The issue was seemingly put to rest until Monday morning, when comments surfaced from Felipe Massa and Rob Smedley accusing Perez of dangerous driving and his team of negligence in keeping him out on track knowing fully well that he had a problem with his brakes.
In quite the staunch manner, Force India responded to the accusations via their own Twitter feed, posting a number of pictures supposedly supporting Perez’s claim that it was in actual fact Massa, not the Mexican that caused the accident. The team concluded it’s defence with a final message, which reads: “We’re not used to [airing] our grievances publicly. But when others do and accuse us of playing with others’ safety, we are compelled to reply.”
It is not everyday that you see a team publicly disagree with the findings of the FIA race stewards, and with Force India evidently feeling slighted, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the team will look to have Perez’s five-place grid penalty for the Austrian Grand Prix overturned. Good luck with that one boys.
Kimi Raikkonen to be sacked, silly season has officially commenced
One rumour doing the rounds over the weekend – and I’m really stressing the word rumour about as far as I can go here – was that Ferrari were ready to drop the luckless Kimi Raikkonen after he was once again heavily beaten by his team-mate Fernando Alonso.
With the Finn on a colossal retainer, and locked-into a contract until at least the end of the year, do not expect to see Kimi going anywhere anytime soon, despite what countless sites and three letter news agencies tell you.
But while Raikkonen continues to traipse home in 10th place, do not expect the stories to go away. Rumours aside for a moment, the Finn’s season really has been dire so far. As was the case last year, expect a summer of speculation over his future unless the results pick up. Believe it or not the 2007 champion is still yet to finish higher than seventh since his return to Ferrari. Here’s to a long summer of Hulkeneberg to Ferrari headlines. I can barely contain my excitement…
Welcome back Austria
Austria, we hardly remember you. With a minor facelift and a splash of dark blue paint the A1 Ring of old has been reformed into the Red Bull Ring.
As Red Bull Racing’s home away from home, the pressure will be on for the team – bankrolled by the dollars of the Austrian Dietrich Materschitz – to produce a result in front of the expectant crowds, while for Mercedes there will be a huge incentive to upset the Red Bull party.
It’ll be F1’s first visit back to Austria in 10 years, and the paddock will have a new member in two weeks time, as our man Jack Leslie makes his own F1 debut.
As always, stick with Richland F1 as we bring you all the news and updates from the Austrian Grand Prix
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS and Wikimedia Commons