Lewis Hamilton yesterday won the 2010 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in what was the most exciting race of the season thus far.
Hamilton won from his McLaren teammate and fellow Brit, World Champion Jenson Button, in second, with the pair closely followed by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who made up the podium with yet another high points finish to remain well in the title hunt.
Hamilton followed his pole position from Saturday with a victory on his much-loved Canada circuit, despite his option tyres – that both McLarens began the race on – falling away after only three or four laps upon the green, abrasive surface.
Without old rubber on the track – Canada is a street circuit, barely raced on since Formula One last visited in 2008 – the Montreal circuit was eating up tyres in a way that lead to a most entertaining race, one which was lead by more than four drivers, and could have been won by any of a chain of five with 25 laps remaining of the 70.
As it was, Red Bull, not for the first time, were hit with reliability problems and exhibited a little bit of tactical naivety as their men took different routes to fourth and fifth.
Mark Webber showed great pace to lead the race by over 11 seconds at one stage, but he had not yet used his compulsory soft boots, and, when his prime tyres began to disintigrate, he lost huge amounts of time, before the chain of four cars behind – headed by Hamilton – caught the Australian Red Bull man. Hamilton passed before Webber decided enough was enough and pitted – it would perhaps have made sense to come straight in when he started dropping over a second a lap as most of the other drivers had done earlier in the race.
Webber’s teammate Vettel was told to “try to pass” on his team radio, but was somewhat exasperated with his reply, “how?” as he had also been told his team was “managing an issue” and would therefore have to short-shift to the finish line. Vettel would let slip after the race, which he finished in fourth, that the issue was gear-box related, perhaps the same problem that had caused his teammate to swap a gear-box and incur a post-qualifying penalty that effectively ruined his race.
Webber, starting from seventh, was lucky to avoid a clash between the two Italian Ferrari fans of Massa and Liuzzi, with the former jutting out into the latter’s Force India machine before the pair made contact several times around the first corner. Liuzzi spun out and Massa was forced to repair the Ferrari that Liuzzi had sat in for a few races last year, with the mishap effectively ending both their hopes of a strong race.
Webber had jumped two places however and, when Button’s tyres began to go off in only the second lap, he put a great move on the British Champion to claim fourth position.
The McLarens would quickly pit, however, and both Hamilton and Button began putting in some seriously fast laps to get themselves back in contention with some clear track.
Alonso and Hamilton’s battle had begun at the first pit stop, on lap seven, as both men docked to replace the option tyres at exactly the same time in a great battle of the pit crews.
Ferrari got their man out of the bay slightly before McLaren, who had track position, and Hamilton pulled away as Alonso was just entering his ‘blind spot’ leaving the two racing side-by-side as they exited the pit lane in perhaps the most exciting bit of pit lane driving fans of Formula 1 have seen for years.
Both drivers were safe and sensible, and Hamilton only yielded at the last safe moment, allowing Alonso, who had a metre, and the inside line, to take the lead before Hamilton put a great move on his former team-mate by using Buemi as a decoy and diving up the inside at the hairpin.
Schumacher had a torrid time, after qualifying in a lacklustre 13th at the track that had seen so much greatness from the German driver over the years, and was involved in several “racing incidents” and scrapes with several drivers, where Schumi showed all of the derring-do of old, only in an inferior, second rate Mercedes.
Schumacher will not be on Robert Kubica’s Christmas Card list after he forced the Pole to pit to fix his car after forcing him onto the grass twice in refusing to yield when he exited the pit lane as the Renault man was coming past. Kubica showed great pace at times – he loves these short track, street circuits, and picked up the fastest lap en route to a Schumacher interrupted seventh place. He could, perhaps, have caught the struggling Red Bulls had he not been forced into this additional stop.
Later, Schumacher was lucky not to pick up some form of punishment for a dangerous swerving block that snapped off Felipe Massa’s Ferrari front wing.
This capped off Massa’s dreadful day, in contrast to his team-mate Alonso, who had had a pretty bad time of it too, as Jenson Button replicated his McLaren team-mate and used a backmarker to slingshot around the Ferrari man on lap 58 and grab second place.
Alonso, after the race, described his “traffic” problems as “dropping 10 points” but, in Formula 1, you more than make your own luck, sometimes you also have to check your mirrors, too, and the Spaniard will privately be kicking himself that he got fooled twice in one afternoon by similar moves.
McLaren have two solid racing drivers, and both of them are able to save tyres when required, too. Once Button got ahead of Alonso, he started eating into his partner’s three second lead, before Hamilton showed him this effort would be fruitless by pulling out a fastest lap with ease.
Hamilton is magnificently quick around Canada, as Button was quick to concede post-race, and, if the pattern set on Sunday continues for the rest of the season, the ultimate professionals at McLaren will make it very hard for all but Button to catch and overtake their man who now leads the World Championship.
Button is best placed, in second, just three points adrift and, as Red Bull come back to the field a little, it looks like it could be the best man in McLaren livery will be World Champion. Picking which one that is to be would be, at present, purely guesswork.
Another fascinating ingredient is Alonso, whose car is improving with each outing and, after enjoying remarkable reliability, he sits within 15 points of the Championship lead.
2010 looks set to be a vintage year and, in yesterday’s Canada race, we had one of the most exciting races in decades as tyre wear and a plethora of passes – plus more than five racing incidents – led to a gripping race that was thoroughly watchable for the duration.
Hamilton now has a slim advantage, but there are five men within an unanswered victory of taking the World Championship lead – something tells me there will be more like this as the season continues.
Welcome back Canada, we’ve missed you.
Montreal Formula One Grand Prix 2010 Result
|4||GER||Sebastian Vettel||5||Red Bull-Renault||2||1:18.417||+00:37.817||12|
|5||AUS||Mark Webber||6||Red Bull-Renault||7||1:18.148||+00:39.291||10|
|6||GER||Nico Rosberg||4||Mercedes GP||10||1:17.832||+00:56.084||8|
|8||SUI||Sebastien Buemi||16||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||15||1:19.784||lapped||4|
|9||ITA||Vitantonio Liuzzi||15||Force India-Mercedes||5||1:19.349||lapped||2|
|10||GER||Adrian Sutil||14||Force India-Mercedes||9||1:19.530||lapped||1|
|11||GER||Michael Schumacher||3||Mercedes GP||13||1:19.577||lapped|
|12||ESP||Jaime Alguersuari||17||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||16||1:19.842||lapped|
|19||BRZ||Lucas di Grassi||25||Virgin-Cosworth||23||1:21.937||lapped|
|20||GER||Timo Glock||24||Virgin-Cosworth||21||1:21.669||retired, 50 laps|
|21||ITA||Jarno Trulli||18||Lotus-Cosworth||20||1:20.791||retired, 42 laps|
|22||ESP||Pedro de la Rosa||22||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||17||1:20.574||retired, 30 laps|
|23||BRZ||Bruno Senna||21||Hispania-Cosworth||22||1:24.524||retired, 13 laps|
|24||JAP||Kamui Kobayashi||23||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||18||retired, 1 laps|
Formula 1 2010 World Championship Standings After Canada
|3||Mark Webber||Aus||Red Bull-Renault||103|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Ger||Red Bull-Renault||90|
|6||Nico Rosberg||Ger||Mercedes GP||74|
|9||Michael Schumacher||Ger||Mercedes GP||34|
|10||Adrian Sutil||Ger||Force India-Mercedes||23|
|11||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Ita||Force India-Mercedes||12|
|14||Sebastien Buemi||Swi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||5|
|15||Jaime Alguersuari||Spa||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||3|
|16||Kamui Kobayashi||Jpn||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1|
|18||Pedro de la Rosa||Spa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||0|
|21||Lucas di Grassi||Brz||Virgin-Cosworth||0|