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Grand Prix Du Canada - Race Report

27 posts in this topic

“O Harry, thou hast robbed me of my youth…”

The first official Canadian Grand Prix was held in 1967 at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. In heavy rain Jack Brabham took the win ahead of team mate Denis Hulme and American Dan Gurney. In that season there were 11 official races on the F1 calendar and aerodynamic devices of any sort were still a year away.

For 10 years the event alternated between this circuit and Mont-Tremblant in Quebec. In 1978 the race was held at its current location and won, in his first full season of F1, by Canadian Gilles Villeneuve. To have been there and heard the crowd as he crossed the finish line must have been spectacular. Following the driver’s death in 1982 the circuit, heretofore named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit, was changed to its current name, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

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This has been a track with a history of solid racing and yet it, like other fine and worthy venues, had fallen prey to that side of racing that might be politely termed “purely business” and was excluded from the 2009 season. After considerable wrangling and posturing over too many months a firm deal was finally announced for the return of the Canadian Grand Prix, the only race currently held in North America.

Building from strength to strength the McLaren team has done the most to close the gap to Red Bull and given the events at the Turkish Grand Prix - together with the layout of the track in Montreal - they were being touted as favorites even before all the teams had a chance to pack up and leave Istanbul. The gents from Woking did not disappoint.

Qualifying didn’t reveal any great anomalies. This being the eighth race of the season one has a general idea of where drivers will place. Whether they are “falling behind” or the track did not suit them, the Mercedes drivers seemed to have gotten the short end of the stick: Schumacher placed 13th and Rosberg only managed 10th. The Force India cars were the beneficiaries, showing enough speed to get both cars into Q3. Sutil managed 9th and Luizzi impressed with a 6th place starting position on the grid. Button seemed to struggle during qualifying but Hamilton kept his head down and showed determination in each session. Webber, Vettel and Alonso were the closest to him but Hamilton squeezed out a corker and took poll position with (as we all know) just enough fuel left for post-race scrutinizing.

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As starting time approached Sunday, and with more sun and less clouds then anticipated, ambient and track temperatures had risen to their highest level of the race weekend. The decisions made by the teams on tire strategy and the drivers’ approach to tire management were looking to be the most critical aspect of the race, although watching the opening laps it didn’t appear that rubber conservation was foremost in the minds of anyone.

Having the Canadian Grand Prix share the weekend with the 24 hours of Le Mans not only gave enthusiasts a double dose of great racing but allowed for some interesting comparisons. While not exactly a full-blooded sprint, the pace employed by the teams in endurance racing today is much faster, much more ‘at the limit’ than it used to be, and the race at Le Sarthe this year was no exception. Therefore I’m not certain how to typify the pace in Montreal: blistering, perhaps? The event seemed more akin to jockeys on thoroughbreds completing a 2 minute dash to the tape. As I followed both live timing online and the U.S. television broadcast (which appeared to have a 2 to 4 minute delay) it would have been deadly to lose concentration.

Looking at my notes from the opening laps I cited Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Button & Webber with little between them. We now know that starting on the optional, softer tire was the better choice. Button, Hamilton and Alonso came in for early stops and switched to the prime compound. Webber pitted on lap 14 and stayed with the prime while his team mate came in next lap and switched to the soft. Given the degree of degradation for both tire compounds and reviewing the race video a second time you can see how this was going to work against Red Bull and the probability of a podium finish without attrition from Alonso or the McLarens. As a team McLaren functioned better than Red Bull in Montreal. They came to a track that suited their cars and drivers, sweeping in on a wave of confidence and optimism and capitalized with the most points possible. You don’t have to like the team but you have to respect them – as you would any team - when they do it right.

This was one of the best races of the season to date. The action was just as exciting as you worked your way further down the grid. Pit stops and on track passing (!) were the order of the day and, as was pointed out in postings on Sunday, the track itself never seemed so good, so alive. After an unhealthy dosage of sterile venues, Montreal suddenly seemed as tangible and vital as Silverstone or Spa or Monza. One is inclined to take the drivers at their word when they talked about how excited they were to come back to this circuit after two years.

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"So wise so young, they say do never live long."

I sometimes wonder if Sebastian Vettel’s obvious speed and talent has blinded us to his youth. Perhaps he is to blame. I think of the calm, smooth win in the wet at Monza in a Toro Rosso, a drive that seemed to belie his lack of accrued racing miles. Someone brought up the “God Complex” question recently on the Forum but I wonder if the origins lie in the murky swamp of fans’ gushing adulation, with reporters using histrionic superlatives, with huge sums of money being tossed about. Do we create these deities and then damn them when they actually begin to believe it? Perhaps Vettel thought the world was waiting to be his oyster and he is finding that it is not so. He can do incredible and thrilling things on the race track and I would be shocked if he did not retire with a room full of trophies and one or more driving championships. I perceive that something is not quite right with Vettel these days. Let’s hope that he has steadying forces around him to keep him grounded.

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“The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.”

Was there ever a driver who has had more words written about him than Michael Schumacher? Talk of his replacing the injured Massa last season set off a firestorm which, although subsiding in the months following, picked up steam and continued when Mercedes formally announced his contract with the team. As I discount most of what celebrities or professional sportsmen say when a microphone is thrust in front of them, I can’t help but wonder what exactly does Schumacher think of his decision to return while he lies awake at night? Is the car so terribly unsuited to him? Are his reflexes measurably lessened? What does he think when he is challenged and then passed by young, aggressive drivers who may never win a Grand Prix race in their career?

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“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once."

As the teams head back to Europe for round nine of the 19 races on the schedule, more and more it appears to be coming down to McLaren and Red Bull. I don’t think Ferrari will go quietly and, if the points remain close, they could play the proverbial “spoiler” towards the end of the season. However, the development of the two leading teams seems to have leapfrogged the others. Ideally it will remain tight right up to the final race. Both teams can ill afford a poor lapse in judgment and the drivers must be mindful of the simple notion of coming away from each race weekend with as many points as possible. To put it differently, if you have a car that’s only fast enough for the lowest step on the podium, be smart and take the smallest trophy and third place points. And any more displays of brooding inter-team rivalry will be relished by your competitors who will snatch victory from your jaws and grin all the way to the championship.

The European Grand Prix in Valencia is next and I will name my successor in the TF1 Race Report Thread.

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Let me be the first to congratulate you on an excellent race report, P. Well worth the read :thbup:

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What a huge pile of randomly assembled cliches coming from the filthiest manure-eating simians that ever disgraced this forum!! It was just an endless chain of irrelevant comments with zero informative content trying to pass as an ellaborated assessment. I feel insulted at the blatant intent of taking us all for blind fools. But enough talking about George's post.

Great report, David! :D

Edited by Quiet One

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What a huge pile of randomly assembled cliches coming from the filthiest manure-eating simians that ever disgraced this forum!! It was just an endless chain of irrelevant comments with zero informative content trying to pass as an ellaborated assessment. I feel insulted at the blatant intent of taking us all for blind fools. But enough talking about George's post.

Great report, David! :D

You know I knew that you were talking about me in that first part, mostly because you didn't quote me!

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Nice report.

Just back from Montreal myself and will have a few stories and report up in the next day or so at my site www.prbsports.com

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Quite breathtaking.

I'd like to say I agree with your god complex analysis, but I don't believe the drivers start to think they are God. I believe they think they are special. There's a difference.

Altogether David an absolute stunning read. Excellent!

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A splendid read, David. Must say I expected nothing less from one of our most erudite members.

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Perhaps the finest racing report yet. Well done!

Hey, I resent that! :P

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I've been out of sorts - out of range? - for the last few days and just now gotten back on to the Forum. Two points of confessional information:

  1. I gave no thought beforehand as to what I was going to write. I just sat at the keyboard late day Sunday and let my fingers do the walking. Despite some apprehension the next day I threw caution to the wind and posted it as it was written.
  2. After a year on the Forum I decided to write in a style and manner that is, however mannered it may appear, ME. Being a private person I'm disinclined to reveal much of myself; odd as it may seem, this is the closest I've come to doing just that.

You are all quite gracious and I am touched by your kind words. Thank you.

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You touch yourself while reading our kind words? Perverse by name...... :P

Edited by Kopite Girl

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Nice report, displeasing font choice. Who's up next, by the way?

Edited by dribbler

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Nice report, displeasing font choice. Who's up next, by the way?

Tanita a.k.a Freaky2 is the next one, I heard that she is going one step futher and is planning a bilingual race report :whistling:

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Tanita a.k.a Freaky2 is the next one, I heard that she is going one step futher and is planning a bilingual race report :whistling:

Woohoooooo!!! No, wait, I read that wrong :dam:

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Woohoooooo!!! No, wait, I read that wrong :dam:

-reads Paul's mind- WHOA. I'M A TF1er. GET ME OUT OF HERE!

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Nice report, displeasing font choice. Who's up next, by the way?

Why did you edit your original post. :lol:

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Enjoyed that report, thanks for taking the time to report back to us, I'd love to go to the Canadian GP one day! Always an exciting race, our GP trp this year was at Turkey GP this year, see my report on this forum!

You seem very quick lose faith in Vettel's ability...i'm not a big fan as i have another favourite however...Vettel has talent, just cause he's had a couple of difficult race doesn't mean he's lost it!!

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