I’m a bit late with this one, so I’ll try to keep it brief! I enjoyed the Canadian Grand Prix. There always seemed to be something ready to happen just around the corner. Marbling is common in motor racing, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it causing such trouble for the drivers, with David Coulthard describing the conditions as the worst dry weather conditions he had ever been in.
Some humour was provided before the race began with a conversation between Scott Speed and his engineer. You can see the pleasent Speed in action on the right there. Speed is known for having a bit of an “attitude problem”, although apart from the infamous moment where he swore at David Coulthard in the stewards’ room the viewers have never seen much of this. Well we got a good old dose of it yesterday.
Speed: Is my engine nice and cool?
Engineer: Yes, your engine is cool.
Speed: Well good, because when I finish the race and get back to the pits and look at the data [voice building up to a cresendo] and Liuzzi’s engine is five degrees cooler than mine, somebody’s head is gonna roll!
Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger says he likes racing drivers to have this sort of attitude. Martin Brundle pointed out that there’s not really a lot that anybody can do about the engine temperature. Speed is by no means certain to retain his drive next year, but I hope he says around just for the pure comedy value.
It didn’t take long for the second blooper to emerge. How many Formula 1 starts has Giancarlo Fisichella made? 170. Surely he has the patience to wait for the lights to go out? In the end he compromised his start and had to take a drive-through penalty. Fisichella is bloody lucky he’s driving for Renault. Jean Todt was less than kind about him today.
Nico Rosberg got himself into a few scrapes over the weekend. He managed to hold up his team mate in qualifying as well as Rubens Barrichello, before going on to set a fast but scrappy lap. It sure looks great if you’re scraping along the wall, but anything more than that and you’ll find yourself slammed into said wall. I would say Rosberg was as lucky as he was fast. He didn’t endear himself to anybody with his optimistic battle with Montoya on lap 2. Rosberg is still a rookie, but in my eyes this is a world away from the Rosberg that set Bahrain alight.
Kimi Räikkönen doesn’t quite seem to be all there. I really think he could have won the race. Okay, the problems in the pitstops — with clutch and engine issues — were mostly to blame for Kimi’s downfall. But at one point in the first stint he was all over Alonso, and Martin Brundle was certain that Räikkönen would take the lead on the circuit. In the end it never happened. Whether that was the car or Kimi, I don’t know. But I think we all understand why he is going to be driving for either Ferrari or Renault next year. Two great qualifying performances in a row remind us that there is another young gun in Formula 1 who hasn’t had the opportunity that Alonso was handed on a silver plate.
Honda had another shocker. At the start of the season they almost looked in contention for race wins. Now they can count themselves lucky if they score a point. Where did it all go so wrong?
Perhaps the stupidest thing that happened yesterday was Ralf Schumacher carrying on and on with a car that was clearly sick. He was never going to score a point, and his only purpose yesterday was to act as a mobile chicane. On a narrow, twisty circuit like Montreal, and with the additional marble problems, that was surely too dangerous. On one of Ralf Schumacher’s first slow laps I saw a marshall waving a white flag. That means that the marshall felt that the car was going dangrously slowly.
Surely he was going to tour to the pits and retire? Nope. He would go on to be dangerously slow until his 58th lap. Why Toyota didn’t call him in I don’t understand. And why the stewards didn’t call him in I don’t understand. Is this not the sort of thing that the black flag with an orange circle was invented for? Ridiculous all round.
Ralf Schumacher caused Jacques Villeneuve to go straight ahead into the wall after he got on to the marbles. This brought out the safety car towards the end of the race, ensuring that the cars were bunched together towards the end of the race — plenty of opportunity for last-minute overtaking, especially with drivers getting caught out on the marbles at the hairpin.
Räikkönen lost second place to Michael Schumacher with just two laps to go, finally bringing to an end a weekend which just an hour or so ago had looked so promising. But Jenson Button must have felt even worse after being passed by David Coulthard down the straight with just a few laps to go. Coulthard had looked snookered. A torrid qualifying session followed by an engine change meant that he started from the very back of the grid. That is possibly the hardest he’s ever worked for a single point. The heroic drive is a reminder that there is still life in old greybeard.