Sunday, June 24, 2012

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal - Canada

With 14 corners and 70 laps, straight line speed is key here, but with four long straights ending in hard corners brakes are just as important.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, named for the famous Gilles Villeneuve who on the last lap in 1978 :
Won the first race ever run on this track
With his first F1 win
To became the first Canadian to win a formula one race
And did it in Canada.

How incredible it would have been to see.

Originally named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit, it was renamed after Villeneuve four years later, just weeks after he died as a result of a crash in the final qualifying lap of the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

Six races, six winners.   Will Canada produce the 7th?

Only five drivers have completed every lap of the season so far Rosberg, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Alonso, Velttel.   With Canada historically being a track of attrition and Safety Cars, I am surprised we didn't lose one of these guys to this course.

Favorite Track Feature:
The Wall of Champions - The last right/left chicane before the start/finish straight, bearing the arguably menacing "Welcome to Quebec" in French. Many drivers have got the chicane wrong and had the opportunity to read that message much closer than they would have wanted but in recent years it seems that every champion has to hit it. Even this year Vettel left some parts of his wheel on the wall. He's joined by Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, and Michael Schumacher. It's a cool section and completely unforgiving.

Favorite comment of the weekend:
When the camera zoomed out from an autograph on an attractive woman's ankle, the Sky Sports co-presenter asked Martin Brundle if that was his signature.  He says, "That's not mine.  Mine would be higher up."   Awesome.

Fred's Take
Qualifying was good but Schumacher's luck seems to continue in the category of "bad".  I'm really starting to long for a Schumacher podium and win.
Excellent start  and a great battle in the first few laps between Massa and Rosberg with Massa taking the position then spinning out a lap later.  Riakkonen moves past a seemingly struggling Button with a skilled move and Button pits for a set of Super Softs

Hamilton starts to catch Vettel but when we think there is going to be a good fight, Vettel dives into the pits.  Then it's an Alonso/Hamilton  fight and just as the Ferrari is about to close on him, Hamilton dives into the pits.  Another battle missed and just when we thought it was going to be boring, Hamilton comes out in front of Vettel, and Alonso stays out and starts making great lap times.

Alonso pits, and it all hinges on that pit, with a nearly half second better pit stop, he comes out in front of Hamilton.  Hamilton passes Alonso under DRS and suddenly this race become interesting.

Grossjean pits for new tires but given that he's barely traveled half of the total distance of the total possible for the season, it seemed somewhat optimistic.

Hamilton pits again and it looks ugly and it puts him in 3rd.  As usual this season, the race was exciting and entertaining, and while I don't like it when Hamilton wins, I don't mind a 7th winner.

This turned out to be a decent weekend for my fantasy team.  I got Lotus in 2nd, Perez in 3rd.  Not a complete disaster.

Tim's Take
From the outset, it seemed that Lewis Hamilton was destined to win this race.  Call it a hunch, or just a feeling that because he'd had so many run-ins with bad luck through the first part of the season, his time to win had come due.  It seemed he felt that way too.  He seemed to approach this race with a confidence that rivaled the early settlers hell bent on seeing to the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny.  I'm not a huge fan of his (any more), he tends to whine a bit much for my taste.  But you can't deny that regardless of his sometimes pouty attitude, the man can drive. 

The race started off with Sebastian Vettel on pole and Lewis at second.  They raced to the corner with Sebastian reaching it easily in front and then, as he often does, increasing the gap between him and the field so that who ever is in second can't use DRS.  And it worked too, only something unexpected happened and Lewis started closing the gap.  It wasn't long before Hamilton was breathing down Vettel's neck, but he never was close enough to pass.  Finally when Vettel pitted at lap 16, Lewis and the third place runner, Fernando Alonso slipped by.  This is when things get interesting.

McLaren tell Lewis to go like mad and take advantage of the clean air and try to gap Fernando's Ferrari as much as possible, but only leave him out for one lap to do so.  They pull him in to pit and now Fernando has the lead and he does exactly what Lewis should have done which is to stay out for 3 or 4 laps to build up that gap.  The result is that when Alonso pits he manages to come out in front of Lewis and Vettel. 

Meanwhile, there was apparently some racing going on in mid-field, but it wasn't particularly interesting or noteworthy.  Sadly, something gets jammed in Schumacher's rear wing, and the DRS is stuck open.  The mechanics lean on it to try to get it to go down, but no luck.  Michael's out of the race.  Sigh.  I really would like to see him do well at least once.

Eventually, we get to the most interesting thing in the race.  The call that must have pissed off Ferrari fans around the world.  Hamilton goes in for his second pit stop to get new tires, and falls behind Vettel and further behind race leader Fernando.  He comes out about 5 seconds back from Vettel and 18 seconds down from Fernando.  With 20 laps to go and apparently what Ferrari believes to be a comfortable lead, they decide to leave Fernando out for the remainder of the race on a set of tires that have already run 26 laps. That's right, Ferrari attempted a 1 stop race running soft and super soft tires.  The tires that are good for about 15 and 25 laps respectively.

It isn't 2 laps after the pit that Lewis is setting fastest lap times and closing on Fernando at the rate of .7 per lap.  But as the laps tick down, that turns to 1.2 seconds per lap and more.  With 6 laps remaining, Red Bull can see the folly of leaving Vettel out on bad tires and bring him in.  He pitted from third and came out in 6th, but the newer tires allowed him the grip to claw his way back up to and finish 4th.  Fernando on the other hand stayed out on those terrible tires and it wasn't long before Lewis caught him and passed him.

A short time later Roman Grosjean passes him for second.  Let me say right now that I categorically reject the notion of calling Roman Grosjean "RoGro".  Yes Bob Varsha, I'm looking square at you.  At any rate, Fernando continued to fall, with Perez taking him next.  At that point, it was just a matter of waiting to see how many more would pass him before the race came mercifully to an end.  Vettel got him for 4th and had the race been another 100 yards longer Nico Rosberg would have had him as well. 

All in all, the race was not all that remarkable.  Well ok, 20 cars finished the race and that was a record for this track.  The 7th race of the year yielded the 7th winner of the year and that is an all time Formula One record.  And Ferrari did make one of the biggest bone-headed decisions I've seen in F1.  But aside for that, the race wasn't all that interesting.

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