Canada: Race Report

Push the Button for  Wacky Races

The Race:

Cliche...maybe. True...absolutely!

There’s no other way to describe the lunacy that we witnessed today, from start to finish it was the Formula One equivalent of a midlife crisis. Brushing the sleep from their eyes after sliding back the curtains, the Gilles Villeneuve circuit was drenched, as if overnight someone had left the tap on. Or Bernie had been up all night installing he much maligned sprinkler system, it would explain his absence from the race. Either way, this was going to be a race dictated by the weather…and boy was it! But weather aside for the moment, judging by the pictures we were being fed, you could easily mistake the Gilles Villeneuve track for the ritz of Monaco. The grid walk was punctuated with the calibre of stars usually reserved for the previous weekend…look out for another post on them.

So why Wacky Races? It was a fight for survival from start to finish, from controlling cars under the SC to avoiding the metaphorical banana skins deposited across the track. The combination of persistent rain, endless interruptions and a pile of carbon fibre voluminous enough to build another car makes this the wackiest race of all. Get ready children, today’s episode is going to be a great one, an all time classic, legendary, the one you’ll be telling your grandchildren about. Oh right, grandchildren…go ask your parents.

The protagonists line up on the grid in the position they won yesterday, and here they are:

  • Sebastian Perfect is out in front in his Turbo Terrific Kinky Kylie
  • The Gruesome Twosome pair up behind – Big Alonso Gruesome and Little Massa Gruesome in their Creepy Coupe, haunted by ghosts of the past
  • Red Mark Webber in his flying machine parks up behind, although the transformation from plane to car has left it somewhat unreliable.
  • The Slag Brothers are running separately in their own cars, Rock Hamilton in 5th and Gravel Button in 7th. Watch out for these two, they’re not averse to using their cars as a weapon.
  • Nestled in between Rock and Gravel is the gorgeous Penelope Rosberg, flowing blonde locks tucked into his Compact Pussycat W02.
  • Mike Dastardly, the perennial bad guy on the track is looking good here but remember he hasn’t finished on a podium for the last couple of years.
  • Dastardley’s exceptional hairy dog Nickley is running his own car today, teaming up with the Russian Rocket
  • Sergent Sutil has been beaten by Private di Resta, but the former is used to this and will unleash his physical ammunition if necessary.
  • Maldonado and Barrichello Bear take up their positions in the Williams Chuggabug.
  • Canoe Kayakashi has the right idea, as does stand in team mate Pedalo Deluge Rosa. Who are joined by Submarine Buemi, Jaime Alguershowery, Jarno Boaty, HeiTide Kovalainen, Vittel Liuzzi, NoRain Karthikayak, Jerome DAMbrosio and Toomuch GlockingRain.

    Doing a Red Bull

The episode starts on slo-mo, but resist the urge to give your television set a bashing, our narrator Charlie Whiting has started this race under safety car conditions. No matter though, these laps count and we’re going racing today whether the groundhogs like it or not. All is well for the first 4 laps, but the trouble started on lap 5 and continued with comical regularity right up until the last few corners. Hamilton plucks his club from his cockpit and spins Webber off the track, allowing him to reinsert his flying machine back in P14, just another day in the wars for the Australian, but a worrying indication as to what mental state Hamilton is in. It is his track, seemingly built for the Brit he’s crossed the line first for the last 3 years, Canada is Hamilton country. Not today though. His luck ironically ran dry when he tried a boulder move on his team mate down the pit straight, with pit boards in his eye line Hamilton goes for an ever closing gap and pays the considerable price, limping to turn 5 his race ends prematurely.

I'm drowning...

Button takes advantage of the situation and switches to intermediate tyres and takes on the cars in front with impressive pace, this slither of luck was dampened by a drive through for speeding under the SC and further as the race is red flagged on lap 25. Cue two hours of hang wringing and moaning about health and safety, despite this fans are afforded a worthy half time show. Shots of Rhianna, Colin Farrell,  interviews with George Lucas, Webber, Whitmarsh and Horner brighten the day but the rains sticks. We had our minds expanded in the break with a spot of birdwatching and saw the usually professional marshalls succumb to the ever-encroaching deluge of water. Armed with brooms and shovels they tried their best, but their day mirrored Hamilton’s, miserable.

Once Whiting deemed the track driveable once more full wets were spun on to the remaining cars, the safety car was out again, out so often it felt like an extra runner come the end of the race. It may be called a safety car, but more drama ensued underneath it as in a cruel twist of fate after waiting for two hours a sticky clutch sent Kovalainen back to the garage. D’Ambrosio couldn’t hold back a drive through penalty as Virgin brought him in for inters before the SC pitted, tut tut. Then before the animators can send out those slides Button and Alonso touch each other and the Ferrari is beached and the McLaren has a front left puncture. Gruesome indeed for both drivers. Their little game of footsie brings out the despised SC. AGAIN! Vettel owns the restart. AGAIN! But things are finally getting interesting.

Di Resta is showing up his team mate again, especially when Sergent Sutil runs up the back of the prettiest girl on the grid, Miss Penelope Rosberg. Webber goes wide and lets the Dastardly rain-meister through, then di Resta stuffs his front wing into the side of Heidfeld. I spoke too soon. The battle is all about Schumacher and Webber as they go toe to toe. Up front Vettel is holding off the excellently prepared Kobayashi who’s being chased down by the sole Ferrari of Massa. Urged on by his race engineer, Massa is out for a win and responds immediately with a fast lap. Do my eyes deceive me? It can’t be…can it? A dry line emerges from the hideous damp. Who jumps to slicks first?

Massa loses his nose

Schumacher is beating Vettel’s times on lap 49 and is surely on the way to his first podium since his return, and a deceptively quiet Button slowly makes his presence known as he takes Maldonado and Buemi in one lap. A switch to slicks by Webber triggers a raft of pit stops for the rest of the field as his sector times tumble. Massa comes a cropper as he dumps his nose into the wall, on slicks he aquaplanes overtaking Karthikeyan. Yeah, a Hispania. Bad to worse for Ferrari. The best action without a doubt is between Schumacher and Webber, the 7 time champion is on the podium and the title-less chaser is going balls out to get past. Another front wings bites the dust, Heidfeld forgets to brake and runs into the back of Kobayashi. Who’s that, that can’t be a McLaren! It is, it is!

NOOOO!

The SC is out yet again, that’s the only Mercedes we don’t want to see at the front today. This plays into Button’s hand beautifully though, the gritty drive after barrel of bad luck may come good yet. Radio calls fly about, Button is calculating the tyre degradation of the cars in front. Baby Schumacher is followed by Big Schumacher who gives him a scare into turn 10, but the student becomes the teacher. Sod Vettel, Schumacher/Webber/Button is the race, all within a second, a podium is deliciously close to all but one of them. Could we allow ourselves to dream? Could we support a man who we once wished would stop winning? A banzai move from Webber sends him wide and locking, cutting across the chicane he politely relinquished his gained position. Button takes advantage of Webber going wide again on the following lap, scooting off the racing line he takes the Red Bull, then soon he’s taking Schumacher. Vettel is in his crosshairs. Beware of Button, Vettel.

Too. Much. Pun.

DRS and determination (and a spoonful of inevitability) gets Webber past Schumacher and dashes the hopes of a dream finish for the German. Button is on the hunt as full distance is confirmed, he we go. Into the final laps and no one is breathing, Button is there and VETTEL’S GONE WIDE! Button leads when it matters and drives home to a win that every fan can celebrate. BUTTON WINS THE CANADIAN GP! But it’s not over until the last car crosses the line and the fight continues, Webber is 3rd but Schumacher is chasing hard down the back straight, Massa pips Kobayashi with the help of his DRS. Button’s win is not the only surprising result to emerge from the storm, a driver who has been under considerable pressure as the season progressed is Alguersuari, and today his finishes in 8th. The Hispania of Liuzzi grabs a very impressive 13th and stand in de la Rosa takes home a respectable 12th.

Penalties: Incident HAM/BUT – no action; DAM changed wet to intermediate under SC – drive through; BUT speeding under SC – drive through; SUT overtaking ROS under SC – drive through; Incident ALO/BUT – no action; DIR collision with HEI – drive through; Incident SUT/ROS – no further action; KAR gained advantage after leaving track at 13/14 – 20 seconds added.

Retirements: Hamilton (accident, 7), Kovalainen (driveshaft,28), Alonso (accident, 36), Sutil (accident, 49), Heidfeld (accident, 55), Maldonado (spun off, 61), di Resta (accident, 67).

Results:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Jenson Button McLaren 4:04:39.537
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 4:04:42.246
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 4:04:53.365
Fastest Lap Jenson Button McLaren 1:16.956

Best Driver:

Hands down, without a second thought it would be Jenson Button. His meteoric rise from his P7 start to a brief spell in dead last, to a final lap legends are created from, will have pride of place in the 2011 season review (perhaps going some way to erase his blooper from Shanghai, you know the dodgy pit stop…at the Red Bull garage? Forgotten already then). Possibly the best of his career, I suspect Brazil 2009 will never be topped for him, but one that will go down in history as one of the greats. So how did he end up in every single position on the grid? It reads like a shopping lists of reasons to lose a race:

  • Starting in 7th
  • Colliding with his team mate
  • Drive through penalty for speeding under the safety car
  • A puncture after a bump with Alonso
  • Being last
  • 6 trips down the pit lane

Best Team:

Ah this is a tough one, McLaren proved that they had a race pace and the car suited to the track, but Red Bull have made massive improvement and got themselves on the podium on a circuit they acknowledge (along with everyone else) as a weakness. Red Bull held their own in terms of strategy decisions regarding their tyres, holding off when others changed to intermediates, a bit of luck and they were set for a win. If It hadn’t have been for Vettel’s mistake they would have sent shockwaves through the F1 world.

Special Mention: Hispania for getting a P13, it’s a massive boost for the team and a result that I hope gets them some bloody sponsors!

Eddie Jordan moment of inappropriateness:

Safety car. Don’t give me those puppy dog headlights, you really shouldn’t have been out there for so long should you? You can grumble and rev all you like, but I’m not changing my mind. Well yes, it was Charlie that told you to go out, and yes he did make you stay out. Alright, alright. Don’t cry, you’re getting oil everywhere. Come on now, you’re a big boy. Do you know where he is? Take me to him then, don’t worry I’ll be gentle when I’m inside…

Rookie mistake:

Far to easy to give it to Hamilton, this one will be winging its way to Charlie Whiting and the FIA crew. The best drivers in the world were gently coaxed off the grid by the safety car, lead by the hand they tiptoed around the grid the majority of the day. Granted it was the right decision to red flag the race, as it definitely made sure there weren’t any disasters. But come the end of the race the safety car was a symbol of health and safety gome mad! Whiting was lucky these were world class drivers who could provide the entertainment, when mummy said it was okay.

Rookie of the Race:

It started off so well for the rookies, as old hands and experienced drivers faltered in the inclement weather they were holding their nerve. Paul di Resta was in a magnificent position of P5, but it unraveled rather quickly for the Scot as the day went on, a broken front wing, penalty and crashing out in the last lap were his prizes for his first race in Canada. Maldonado was also running well, but couldn’t make it to the finish line. And with Perez maturely deciding to sit out, the sole rookie left was d’Ambrosio. The Belgian was obviously lapped, but he not only finished ahead of his team mate Glock, but the Lotus of Trulli and Hispania’s Karthikeyan as well.

Banzaiiiii!!!!:

Button did some tasty manoeuvres on his epic journey from 7th to last to 1st, but the cheeky overtake Schumacher performed on a fighting Massa and Kobayashi to put himself into second surely wins this award. As the pair engaged in battle, Schumacher used his vast experience to leap onto the wet tarmac and take advantage of the situation. As we edge closer to the midpoint of the season, the claws are out and the pressure it on to ensure your seat for next year, not that Schumacher has to be concerned with such things, but his reputation has taken a considerable bashing of late. Performances like this give rise to not altogether absurd idea of a podium. Now who thought we’d want to see him with a trophy again?

The 1000 word picture:

Say what?:

Vettel: “Your German accent is bad.” Coulthard: “To be honest I only learnt my German from DVDs when I was younger.” Vettel: “You need to send me those DVDs.” – A conversation that reminds you that Vettel isn’t actually 12 years old. And has a pretty wicked sense of humour.

“Do birds have shoulders?” – Coulthard and Brundle doing their best to make the most of the FOM feed.

“Race Car’ spells Race car backwards.” – Brundle plundering the depths of his knowledge.

“Very sorry Martin to come over you.” Coulthard. And my imagination…

“The rain is coming down.” Massa stating the obvious.

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