The Canadian Grand Prix often throws up a race to remember. In 2007 it threw up a classic that would set the scene for a new era of Formula One. BadgerGP takes a look back at a day where Lewis Hamilton wrote himself into the history books, despite the safety car trying it’s best to ruin it for him…
The weekend started with super-rookie Lewis Hamilton storming to his first career pole position ahead of reigning double world champion and McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso. Nick Heidfeld slotted into third in his BMW-Sauber with the McLaren’s main title rivals Ferrari settling for fourth and fifth with Kimi Raikkonen Felipe Massa respectively. Heidfeld’s team-mate Robert Kubica was a distant eighth on the gird, but was looking to make a big impact on race day.
The start of the race was a predicted scramble for positions, Hamilton having to defend from Alonso into the first corner and this led to the Spaniard running over the grass into Turn Two. Alonso’s McLaren sustained some minor damage, and it allowed Heidfeld to slip by in his BMW-Sauber. It was the start of a torrid afternoon for Alonso – he would run wide at the first corner a further two times by lap 19 and in the closing stages of the Grand Prix he suffered the indignity of being overtaken by the Super Aguri of Takuma Sato for sixth place.
Alonso’s antics allowed Hamilton to build up a healthy lead over Heidfeld. On lap 21 Adrian Sutil crashed his Spyker, kickstarting a chaotic series of events. The inevitable safety car caught out both Alonso and Williams’ Nico Rosberg as both had to pit for fuel with the pit-lane closed, leading to both of them receiving ten second stop-and-go penalties. That wasn’t the end of the pit-lane drama though, as Massa and Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella both bolted back onto the race track while the red light was shown at the end of the pit-lane. Both were disqualified from the race much to the chagrin of their teams.
The safety car period ended on lap 26, and a very calm Hamilton set about getting his gap to Heidfeld back. However, the chaos continued thanks to a gigantic crash involving Heidfeld’s team-mate Robert Kubica and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli. On the approach to the hairpin Kubica clipped the back of Trulli’s car, forcing the Pole’s car onto the grass at around 180MPH. A bump in the run-off area launched the BMW-Sauber into the concrete wall at a slight head-on angle, and the car began to disintegrate at an alarming rate. Kubica then barrel rolled down the track in a violent manner finally coming to a halt in a tarmac run-off strip on the outside of the hairpin. His feet were clearly visible from the front of the car and many feared the worst from such a terrifying impact, the force of which was so great Kubica’s steering wheel snapped on impact with the wall.
Thankfully Kubica was relatively unscathed – a bruised ankle and concussion the worst of his injuries sustained – but he would go on to miss the following race in Indianapolis one week later, with some German teenager called Sebastien Vettel replacing him instead.
Kubica’s smash obviously brought the safety car out again for the second time in as many laps. It left Hamilton having to re-group once more; something he did it to perfection. The Brit scarpered away from Heidfeld in a fashion usually seen in the most experienced of veterans, rather than the rookie of just seven races that he was. Hamilton continued to dominate the race while madness ensued around him – Anthony Davidson surprised his Super Aguri pit crew by stopping out of the blue after hitting one of Montreal’s famous groundhogs, and Toro Rosso’s Scott Speed tried rather ambitiously to take a piece of Alex Wurz’s Williams rear wing home with him during a botched overtaking attempt.
Another safety car seemed inevitable, and on lap 50 the field duly delivered when Christijan Albers kindly spread parts of his Spyker all over the track. Again, the field bunched up and again Hamilton led them round for the third restart on lap 54. Third time lucky it was not to be after Tonio Luizzi slammed his Toro Rosso into the now infamous Wall of Champions and yet another another safety car period followed. To add insult to injury after his involvement with Kubica’s accident, Trulli crashed as he was leaving the pits rather pathetically during the final safety car period.
The final eleven laps of the race thankfully went by with no additional trouble, allowing Hamilton to cruise to a fantastic maiden victory. It really was a credit to him that he made such a crazy day look so simple, and it was the race that catapulted him into an right point lead in the title race.
People began talking about him possibly winning the championship, and if he had cracked a supposedly unbreakable team-mate in the shape of the Spaniard Fernando Alonso. Heidfeld hung on for second place, giving BMW-Sauber a consolation of sorts after Kubica’s horrendous crash with Wurz dragging his battered Williams home for what would prove to be the final podium finish of his career.