More surprises sprung in Canada

This is a continuation of my Canadian Grand Prix report. See yesterday’s post for the first part.

It was not just BMW who sprung a major surprise at the Canadian Grand Prix. David Coulthard put in an excellent performance to gain the third spot on the podium. It has come at just the right time for DC’s career. All anyone seems to want to know about with DC is his retirement. He has had crash after crash this season and the critics were lining up.

Well he’s shown them now. What a way to respond. Yes, some luck was involved. But his experience paid off as he kept his car in good condition where lesser drivers were having brake problems. Also, DC crucially avoided the marbles and kept the car on the island. A well-deserved podium place if you ask me. Unlike Heidfeld, he looked thrilled as well. This long-awaited 62nd podium probably feels as good as a win for DC.

Toyota were also extraordinarily strong. At one point they were leading the race with a 1-2, although admittedly this was mostly because everyone else in front of them had pitted. Nevertheless, the team’s strategy worked out in the end. Timo Glock took a career-best 4th position. However, Glock’s mistake late on in the race led to Trulli having to back off and let the opportunistic Massa through into 5th while the Italian had to settle for 6th.

That was not the only opportunistic move of the day from Massa. Heikki Kovalainen and Rubens Barrichello were battling down at the hairpin. It looked as though Kovalainen had got the move to stick. However, both drivers ended up on the marbles and lacked the grip to exit smoothly from the corner. Massa made the best overtaking manoeuvre I have ever seen him do, opportunistically taking them both down the inside of the corner, getting right up onto the kerb where it was tighter but grippier. Normally you would expect Massa to make a mistake in that sort of situation, but that was amazing stuff from the Brazilian.

However, Felipe Massa’s form in Canada as a whole is a question mark for me. His qualifying session was very poor, only managing to get 6th on the grid in what is meant to be the fastest or second-fastest car. And while an issue with the fuel hose meant that he had to make an extra stop, Ferrari still must have been disappointed in the fact that Massa was never really in contention even for a podium place, never mind the win. Räikkönen’s mishap was understandable as it wasn’t his fault, but Massa wasn’t there to pick up the pieces as a good ‘second driver’ should.

The performance of Heikki Kovalainen, too, is a real head-scratcher. Like Massa, he was off the pace when it counted all weekend. The McLaren is meant to have a mega advantage at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Kovalainen failed to make the most of that potential, and a 9th place finish is hugely disappointing. He spent a large portion of the race battling with Vettel’s Toro Rosso, and the German definitely had the upper hand.

As for Sebastian Vettel, he finished in 8th. Not bad going, considering he started in the pitlane. Yet again, the young German proves he’s got what it takes to plough is way through the field even in the relatively underperforming Toro Rosso car.

Rubens Barrichello, too, must be ruing what could have been. While a 7th place finish is by all accounts good going for Barrichello — it being his second points finish in a row after a painfully long drought — he could as easily have been 4th. He was running that high as late as lap 60. But then he ran wide, letting both Toyotas pass too easily. After that he lacked the pace to defend himself against Massa.

It was yet another disappointing race for Williams. Rosberg messed up in the pitlane just as badly as Hamilton did, putting an end to any hopes he had for the race. Nakajima, too, got himself into an unnecessary tangle that ended with him losing control of his car in the pitlane and landing in the wall as he ran over his own front wing.

As for Renault, it was a case of what might have been. Nelsinho “Junior” Piquet Jnr was his usual self, spinning off all over the place. Meanwhile Alonso blamed a gearbox problem for getting onto the marbles and slamming into the wall. He was in 3rd when that happened, but he didn’t look good for the race due to his strategy which, as Alonso has conceded, put paid to any hopes he had for getting a good points haul.

All-in-all, a fantastic race with plenty of talking points yet again. The Championship looks cracking now. It reminds me a bit like last year, when unexpectedly — almost by accident, you might say — Hamilton was leading the Championship. Now Kubica is the accidental Championship leader. BMW also look good in the Constructors Championship, ahead of McLaren. I doubt they will be able to maintain this kind of momentum, but they can notch up this 1-2 and move on to the next target in due course.

4 comments

  1. But I thought Nelson’s aggressive driving and overtaking was a fresh aroma to a smelly start of his career. Go BMW!!

  2. Alonso didn’t blame his spin on a gearbox problem. He admitted it was a driver error.

  3. Yup. It turned out I mis-heard his radio transmission following the crash. When he was talking about the gearbox he meant that it was damaged in the crash, not that a gearbox issue caused him to spin.