After watching around 19 of the 24 hours of Le Mans this reporter was a little unenthusiastic about the Canadian Grand Prix (not to mention exhausted). How could it possibly come close to the excitement and emotional drama of the French enduro classique?

Four hours, a partially-melted brain and a sore throat later I was profusely apologising to the F1 Gods for ever doubting the sheer brilliance of grand prix racing. Here we’re assessing the front running drivers who made this year’s Canadian Grand Prix so epic.


  • Qualifying: Hamilton (5th) Button (7th)
  • Race: Button (1st) Hamilton (DNF)

buttonFrom disaster to delirium, Jenson Button ran the gamut of emotions in yesterday’s Canadian Grand Prix and came out a winner. When he collided with team-mate Lewis Hamilton early on victory seemed unlikely; when he took a drive-through for speeding behind the safety car it looked nigh-on impossible; and when he collided with Fernando Alonso you’d have forgiven his team for packing away those garish rocket red victory shirts for the weekend.

But he did it – somehow – and is quite rightly our Top Dog for Canada. Three podiums in a row, topped off by this stunning win, leave him second in the championship as the season nears halfway point. Given Sebastian Vettel’s dominance that’s about as much as you can ask of anyone right now. Top marks.

Lewis’ fortunes meanwhile went from bad to worse in Canada, recording his first DNF of the year following that collision with Jenson. It was a fairly even clash, but the younger man came off worse and thus ruled himself out of a shot at victory.

He looks rattled. Canada is his circuit – the scene of his first pole position and his first win – and watching Jenson triumph here won’t have been easy. The mark of the man will be how he recovers from what might be the most difficult period in his F1 career to date.

Badger’s Best: Button

Red Bull

  • Qualifying: Vettel (1st) Webber (4th)
  • Race: Vettel (2nd) Webber (3rd)

Not many people consider a weekend in which they ruin their car in FP1 but still manage pole position and second place in a chaotic grand prix a bad result. Such are the lofty standards Sebastian Vettel holds himself to in 2011. One mistake at the very beginning and one at the bitter end was enough to spoil his finger-waggin’ fun, but there still no question over who the top dog at Red Bull is (and, let’s be honest, who’s going to win the world title).

Whilst he may have lost the win Seb’s second place finish is still far from a disaster, particularly at a circuit the team expected to struggle on. He can console himself with a 60-point championship cushion and the knowledge that he’s headed to a circuit he scored victory on last year in two weeks time.

Team-mate Mark Webber also had a strong race, but as ever it was fraught with problems. There were technical glitches in practice, his qualy lap wasn’t a match for Seb’s, and the race saw more gremlins creep in to his car and an unwelcome nudge from Hamilton at turn one. His eventual recovery to third was impressive, but it still sees him fall further behind Vettel in the standings.

Badger’s Best: Vettel


  • Qualifying: Rosberg (6th) Schumacher (8th)
  • Race: Schumacher (4th) Rosberg (11th)

schumacherHis best drive since he returned to F1? That seems a fair assessment of Michael Schumacher’s Canadian Grand Prix. The Old Dog was up to his old tricks yesterday (the good ones, that is) and thus rockets his team to Top Dogs territory.

Michael was almost flawless: mega fast on the inters, audacious in his overtakes and breathtakingly brave as the track dried in the latter stages. His scraps with Webber were clean and fair, and it was only DRS that allowed the Aussie and eventual winner Button to get past. Jenson aside Michael was driver of the day. Another few races like this and he may end up fancying another year of this comeback lark.

Nico meanwhile faded from a strong start to eventually finish outside the top ten, a result that sees him slip behind Michael in the standings (though they are now level on 26 points). He’s still the quicker of the two – particularly in qualy – but needs to get back on the points train ASAP. Whereas it was once expected that a team-mate would be out-scored by Schumacher it would now be a big blow to Rosberg’s ambitions.

Badger’s Best: Schumacher


  • Qualifying: Heidfeld (9th) Petrov (10th)
  • Race: Petrov (5th) Heidfeld (DNF)

petrovRenault sneak in to the Top Dogs this week by dint of Vitaly Petrov’s fifth place finish, a result absolutely no one noticed thanks to the drama taking place at the front of the race. Not that Vitaly will mind, the Russian revelling in his best finish since third at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. We did notice him on a few occasions, but he was largely a supporting character in the story of this grand prix. Think of him as Wesley, the boyfriend of Forest Gump’s love interest Jenny in the hit Tom Hanks film. Remember him? Thought not, but he was there – as was Vitaly.

From going under the radar to going over your own front wing, we switch our attention to Nick Hiedfeld. Like Petrov Nick was driving a fairly quiet and solid race until the latter stages, seemingly on for a decent haul of points. Then he clouted the rear of Kamui Koabayshi and ramped off his own wing on the run down to turn 3. It was quite a sight, though the lads on the Renault pitfall didn’t look too pleased. You’d almost be tempted to suggest they stick Bruno Senna in the car if it wasn’t for the fact that the Brazilian would probably have done the same thing and a bit further down the pack.

Badger’s Best: Petrov