Vettel Checks One Off, Alonso Is Up To His Old Tricks, Hamilton Delivers – The Canadian Grand Prix
It was these three drivers on the podium at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix. Yes, Vettel was the one on the top step but really all three of them won in one way or the other. A race that was forecast to be run with rainy conditions in fact ended up sunny and dry. A perfect day to go motor racing, and on this day the top three finishers showed why they are without question the three best drivers in this Formula, maybe even the world. We can debate all day long which of these are the best, but no denying that what went on Sunday around the Ile Notre-Dame for 70 laps was F1 racing at its finest. Sebastian Vettel, a master at controlling the race, knocking out a fast lap at will. Fernando Alonso getting on with the program and turning a crappy qualifying position into a podium. Lewis Hamilton showing everyone that he is not going to roll over and play dead just because his teammate had the measure of him back in Monaco.
I’m not going to bore you with any insight, or engage in any complaining about other people who are always complaining, or try to convince you of one of my cockamamy conspiracies this time around. I am just going to give you a quick rundown on the race and a few thoughts about our top three finishers. It will be all smiles and laughter this time around at AmerF1can.com. So lets get started.
The Place: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
This is a beautiful track especially when the weather cooperates as it did this past Sunday. Due to the nature of the layout this is one of the few tracks in which I think TV can capture the speed and handling of F1 machinery. The true essence of Grand Prix racing is on display for everyone to see. It is something to do with the closeness of the guard rails and all of the beautiful trees that align the circuit. I had a chance to attend this GP back in 2003 and it was a great experience. I sat at the end of the back straight, on the side that the drivers put the power down and shoot back up to the start/finish line. Very cool!
First Place: Sebastian Vettel
What more is there to say, besides he is damn fine race car driver. It is looking good for a fourth Drivers Championship although I’m hoping for a different outcome quite frankly. Vettel drove a sensational race, won with plenty of time to spare and in doing so added a win from a track that he now can check off his list. In fact, it was the first win for Red Bull at the Canadian GP, and that must feel like a great accomplishment for the team as well.
The day was not without a little bit of drama for our race winner though, which occurred on lap 13 when Vettel just kissed the wall coming into turn four but nothing happened. Then there was the moment when Vettel was about to pull his favorite stunt, using the final lap to set the fast lap, until Christian Horner got on the radio to Vettel’s engineer and told him to put the kibosh on that little move. You have to love Vettel’s response on his radio, which was “OK, OK – I’m just kidding.” This track seems to have helped the Red Bull in terms of tire wear, but that being said, Vettel and Red Bull looked very very good on Sunday. This is not a good omen for the rest of the teams and drivers.
Second Place: Fernando Alonso
After having a lackluster drive around the streets of Monaco (I’m still a little baffled on that one), Alonso responded with what can only be considered a spectacular performance. Or you could just say, he was his usual self. Started sixth and ended up second, his drive was indicative of why I feel he is the most complete driver and why I think he is so exciting to watch on Sunday afternoon. Just relentless when it comes to catching a driver, setting them up and completing the pass. When he drives like this he reminds me of Michael Schumacher, never giving up, especially when they sense an opportunity. You can say this about many drivers but it just seem that much more evident with a driver like Alonso. On several occasions Alonso has made something out of nothing in terms of where he started and where he finished and commonly has to pass several drivers to get the job done. Today was no different, first with Mark Webber and then with Lewis Hamilton. Brilliant.
The stakes were set high on Saturday when Vettel stuck his car on pole and Alonso could only manage sixth. A win was out of the question even though Alonso said it was still the result that he and Ferrari would be aiming for. Realistically, the goal must have been to finish second, and that is exactly what Alonso did. Drove smart, pounced when he saw the opening and mitigated the points loss. For a Ferrari or Alonso fan like yours truly, what more can you ask for? Well maybe for Vettel’s wheels to have fallen off at some point? Ha Ha. Just kidding… 😉
There is already some talk of this Championship being over after the winning display from Vettel and Red Bull. I am not so quick to agree. Vettel does have a big lead but that can change in an instant. There are many more laps to complete till the season ends in Brazil. Alonso thinks this year will provide his best chance for a drivers title since joining Ferrari, due to the competitiveness of the F138. Today we were reminded how good that chassis really is.
So lets give Ferrari and Alonso the benefit of the doubt and see what happens when Formula 1 comes together over the next few races. As for the race here in Montreal, lets finish off with a quote from the man himself. “At the end of an extremely complicated weekend, this second place tastes like a win, because we were competitive and managed to fight with the front running drivers.” I could not agree more.
Third Place: Lewis Hamilton
He will have been disappointed losing out to Alonso with under 10 laps to go, but like Alonso must feel as though this podium was a win. Considering all of the tire problems that Mercedes has had to work through, this is a great result for Hamilton and the team. At a time when maybe he was feeling less relevant due to Nico Rosberg’s string of pole positions and win in Monaco you really can’t overstate Hamilton’s gutty drive on sunday.
For me Hamilton’s drive was on another level as the saying goes. Not so much for the sheer pace of it, but for keeping P2 almost the entire race and even when he was passed by the Ferrari of Alonso, in classic Lewis style he attempted a re-pass. He just did everything right all day, not a foot wrong is how I always hear F1 commentators refer to it when a driver has made no mistakes. And regardless that the track was less severe in tire wear, Hamilton still did an incredible job to look after his tires.
By comparison Rosberg’s position was probably a more accurate picture of Mercedes’ true potential. It is no secret that the Mercedes chassis is not yet in the same ballpark as either chassis from Red Bull or Ferrari with race fuel and over a race distance. Yet somehow, I think beyond everyone’s belief there was Hamilton turning out fast laps. There is no doubt that on Sunday Hamilton drove that car beyond it limits. This to me is always the mark of a truly great driver. A champion driver. Lewis is both.
So there you have it. Just as I promised, not a complaint, a sarcasm, a nag, a dig, a calling out, a rhetorical question, or any of the other sour puss face lines and devices I like to use to get my cranky points across at the expense of just about everyone. Just a plain old simple post about how three guys drove a brilliant race on Sunday under blue skies and in the picturesque setting that is Montreal.
-jp- (and now for the post about how that 1000km must have made some kind of…..ha ha ha…)