2013 Canadian GP Review

The 2013 Canadian GP was like a flashback to 2011 as Sebastian Vettel won from pole to give himself a sound lead in the championship of 36 points with 25 for a win. He managed the conditions well in Qualifying to take pole on a damp track and was able to enforce his usual tactic of springing free of the 1 second required for a DRS attempted overtake. The much warmer conditions on Sunday ensured Red Bull and Mercedes could keep their tyres in the effective working area and beyond the graining phase. Vettel was dominant as he was able to push his car without fear of the Pirelli tyres falling off. He was a little lucky after a fairly hefty clout to the wall which ended Alonso’s race in similar circumstances in 2005 and made a small error into turn one in the final third of the race and missed turn two. However you make your own luck and Vettel had made a big enough of a gap to recover from those errors as well as traffic which he had plenty of in lapping everyone but the top five finishers. He gets his and Red Bulls first victory in Canada. Alonso was able to have a great race after a poor Qualifying and pulled off moves on Bottas, Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton. Had his Qualifying been a little better he may have been able to put Vettel under some pressure as the Ferrari was arguably the quickest car on the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in the cool but dry conditions of Friday practice 2. He had a soft tyre then two mediums tyre stints like Vettel, Hamilton and Webber so all his hardwork as I eluded to earlier was on the track and it needed to be for him to reduce the widening of his defict to Vettel and he is very confident of his chances still in saying “When we are 85 points behind that will be a critical situation,” he said. “In the last six years people have been recovering 30-40 points”. It is turning into a similar situation as to last years duel between Alonso and Vettel but this year the F138 is helping Alonso rather than hindering him as the F2012 did last year. He has reduced a bigger gap than that in 2010 and has also dropped and them regained a sizable gap in 2012 so he has plenty of experience in those situations. Hamilton was also able to benefit from the warmer weather and the more conservative tyre choice from Pirelli but they still do have some tyre wearing issues and in the final few laps Alonso was able to take Hamilton. There was an option of running Hamilton on a one stop strategy which which might have put Lewis ahead of Vettel had Red Bull continued with their two stop strategy but whether he would have stayed there or not was by no means certain and Mercedes decided not to gamble and Lewis took his third podium and his third time in third position this year. He still has some braking issues as the car isn’t suited to his late brakinh style and it’s limiting Hamilton slightly with Lewis saying “We still need to improve [the braking] and that is where Fernando was catching me everywhere”. He may not have the the win Rosberg took in Monaco but he’s been much more consistent. Despite this though his championship is looking rather bleak being 55 points back from Vettel which is just over two race wins (50 points) but he has strengthed his position in fourth being 8 points and 20 points ahead of Webber and team-mate Rosberg in fifth and sixth and has closed in to 11 points behind Kimi in third.

Webber perhaps could have had more in fourth and Rosberg’s stop for super-soft tyres for his second stint and so kept Mark bottled up behind him for several laps and allowed Alonso to catch them both as Webber started to suffer from cooling issues in the hot, turbulent air from Rosberg’s Mercedes. His clash with the Caterham when trying to lap Van der garde caused some substantial damage to the top element of his front wing and Alonso was able to pounce and Webber dropped off into fourth. He described the events after passing Rosberg with some harsh words saying “We finally got past him and the car was happy then, everything started to cool down and we could get into a rhythm until we caught a pay driver with no mirrors and then lost the front wing,” Rosberg did well to take fifth with a flawed stratergy that forced his hand into a two stop which developed into a three stop as a precaution on the tyres. He spent the early part of his second stint defending from Webber and then Alonso and that had effectively killed them as Webber and Alonso got past him in the space of 20 seconds. His championship challenge is as good as done being 3 race wins behind Vettel (75 points) and surely his main challenge now is to try and take on Hamilton in the other Mercedes and finish as high up as possible for him and Mercedes. His more consistent results of recent races have seen Mercedes jump to third in the Constructors championship ahead of Lotus. Jean Eric Vergne finished a career best sixth place to top a great seventh place Qualifying. He made an extra stop to cover Di Resta and to consolidate sixth and for the first time since Vettel won in Monza in 2008, people are now seriously considering the prospect of a Toro Rosso driver stepping up from the junior team to Red Bull. Di Resta had an amazing race from seventeenth on the grid and carried out a superb one stop strategy in which he ended his opening stint on the medium compound tyres with just 13 laps to go. Many teams perhaps wished they had kept a closer eye on his progress on the mediums tyres as they cleared up again after the graining phase and Paul was able to set competitive lap times well beyond the half way point of the race. Those such as Button and Raikkonen who attempted but then aborted their one stop strategy after mistaking the graining phase as the ‘falling off the cliff’ of the tyres as a permanent loss of grip. Both finished behind Di Resta. Force India have now pulled away from McLaren in the constructors and Toro Rosso have statred to up the anti on the Woking team.

Massa had a decent race in response to his crash in Qualifying and conducted several overtaking manouvres on Raikkonen, Ricciardo and and a great battle with Sutil to come home in eighth place. However Ferrari have lost ground to Red Bull in the Constuctors championship due to his mistake on Saturday and his mistake in Monaco on Saturday and the failure in the race. But this result may boost his confidence again and Rosberg is only 8 points ahead of him in sixth. Lotus had an awful weekend by their standards which started with the poor qualifying. Raikkonen’s strategy was flawed and adapted from a one to a two stop at the wrong time. The failure in this stratergy was compunded by issues with his front brakes and to top that off he suffered with fuel consumption issues in which the team miscalculated his use of fuel and therefore he had to go into fuel into fuel saving mode. Kimi is now 44 points back and Alonso has took over as the main challenger to Vettel. You somehow get the sense that while Kimi will not get left behind in the title fight, his car may let him down at some circuits. Sutil did well to claim tenth place after an early spin infront of a lot of traffic and then to be clipped by Maldonado just after that which left him with some rear wing damage. He used some strong armed tactics against Massa and then recieved a drive through penalty for disregarding blue flags when Hamilton and Alonso were trying to lap him. He was very frustrated with this and claimed “I think I let them by within one lap. They lost maybe one second, which is absolutely normal for what you lose when you lap a car. I’ve brought it up many times in the drivers’ meetings. I was stuck behind the slow backmarkers, the Marussias, the Caterhams, and they wouldn’t move and you had to overtake them into a corner. No penalty.”

McLaren had their worst race of the season in eleventh and twelfth places with Perez ahead of Button. Both were on a hastened two stop strategy and prevented any chance they had of scoring any points and Button and Perez are both tenth and thirteenth in the drivers standings with McLaren falling back 14 points behind Force India in sixth as Toro Rosso have closed the gap to McLaren in eighth and are 17 points back. This now seems to be where the midfield battle is taking place and McLaren are lucky the Sauber and Williams are performing below par at the moment as they could’ve been put in a worse position. Grosjean completed a poor weekend in unlucky thirteenth. Bottas had a great Qualifying in mixed conditions in third and after claiming the car is masking his progress in his rookie year that was his oppurtunity to show everyone what he’s got. He had a slow start though but drove a mature and fair race as Sutil and Kimi struggled to get past him but the FW35 is making little progress at the moment and he struggled to keep up the pace of the points finishers. Bottas though was realistic and said “I think at a track like this when the weather turns out to be dry, with two DRS zones and long straights, overtaking is easier than some other tracks. Everyone settles to the place where the car pace is, no matter where you start.” Again Williams could have tried to mirror Di Resta’s strategy but even if they did they will have struggled and may have only picked up a point. Ricciardo struggled compared to his team-mate Vergne in fifteenth and Maldonado likewise in sixteenth who recieved a drive through for which he was upset about. “I locked up in my braking point. I think the decision was wrong because he didn’t lose a position, but I lost a place. It was not a mistake. It was normal racing contact – I didn’t push him off the track or whatever.” Sutil too would go on to say it had little effect on his race. Bianchi resumed Marussia’s place ahead of Caterham in seventeenth as Max Chilton continues to be out-shone by the other backmarkers in nineteenth. Van der garde though, had a terrible race which included a ten second stop/go penalty for ignoring blue flags which resulted in his contact with Webber. He then made contact with Hulkenberg as the German lapped him which resuled in retirement for both. Van der garde was given a five place grid penalty for the British GP and was apologetic for his actions while Gutierrez hit the barriers on the pitlane exit in the closing stages.

I would also like to comment of course on how sad it is that the marshal was killed in such a tragic accident when bringing Gutierrez’s car back to the pits post race and being terminally injured by the recovery veichle. Sebastian Vettel made comment today that motorsport wouldn’t occur without marshals and that’s very true. It’s even more frustrating that it occured after the race which should be the most dangerous time for a marshal but no doubt measures will be taken to stop this happening again. This is the first time since the 2001 Australian GP that a marshal has been killed and marshal safety should not be taken for granted because of the massively safe cars or circuits.

F1 continues it’s journey around the world in a saddened mood as it arrives in the U.K at Silverstone. Many will be hoping for a typical cool and damp British summer to limit Red Bull’s charge and Alonso will be there regardless. Mercedes may struggle with their tyres on a track with several high geared and fast corners but that may depend on the new tyres that are expected for the race. It that won’t put enough scruitiny on Pirelli and Paul Hembery then the FIA Internation Tribunal in relation to the Pirelli/Mercedes test will. The next three weeks will be interesting for sure.

Images from (bleacherreport.com / www.f1fanatic.co.uk / www.planetf1.com / www.whtimes.co.uk / www.newstalkzb.co.nz)



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