Round 7 of the 2012 championship led to a seventh winner in the shape of Lewis Hamilton – but what other stories got the attention of the Badgerometer? Read on to find out our Canadian Grand Prix Top 5!
Pedro the unsung hero
Cast your view back to the other end of the grid for a moment, and you’ll see a little piece of heroic driving happened on Saturday afternoon. Pedro De La Rosa put his HRT – a car suffering from no testing and woeful funding – clear of the Marussias in qualifying and, after Pastor Maldonado had another gearbox change (again!), the Spaniard was in the top 20.
Even in the race the speed was there for HRT to secure a solid result, but the car wasn’t up to the task and the brakes gave up in a plume of black smoke. Game over, Pedro.
It was a shame, because at the time he was attempting a one-stop race and was keeping both Glock and Pic honest.
Don’t worry Pedro, we noticed.
The woes continue for Jenson Button…
While one McLaren won the race, the other ended up a lowly 16th, one lap down. The tide has truly turned for Jenson, after such a strong start to the season he’s now in danger of being tagged as “the new Felipe Massa”.
What’s gone wrong? McLaren have brought a raft of updates since Australia so the new balance of the car could be more suited to Lewis. The Pirellis are a different beast to last years, and Jenson has been struggling to get the softer compounds to work. Over one lap the speed is there, but his race pace is terrible.
These aren’t excuses – they’re all problems.
Jenson has been around the block enough to know that hard work and a positive outlook will get him through this tough patch. One fact will motivate him more than any other – his car is a winner in Hamilton’s hands.
…and for Michael too.
Another race, another Michael Schumacher retirment. That’s now 5 from 7 races in a season where it’s clear anything can happen, and it’s not like Michael is driving slowly – just look at his Monaco qualifying.
Mercedes have produced a car that has the potential to be a race winner for him – it has in the right conditions with Nico Rosberg – but Michael has had the worst luck in terms of mechanical failures and team mistakes.
Many are saying that it’s payback for having so much good luck in his first “career” in Formula One. We put too much emphasis on Michael failing the team after the collision with Bruno Senna in Spain – probably in retrospect, unfairly – when it’s quite clear that it’s the team failing Michael.
Grosjean – the fly in the Ferrari ointment
Tyre strategy was key in Montreal on Sunday, proven by the fact that a one-stopping Fernando Alonso lost out to a two-stopping Lewis Hamilton. That is great to see – Pirelli hard work, criticised by some fans as being “a lottery”, is finally paying off for the watching audience.
But, why did Ferrari try such a bold move? It’s simple – Romain Grosjean.
The lap times Grosjean was setting long into his first stint deceived the Ferrari pit wall – Hamilton had stopped, but Grosjean was lapping at the same speed on worn tyres. Looking to save 15 seconds – and possibly nab the win – Ferrari threw the dice and left Fernando out to the end.
We know now that it didn’t work, as the Spaniard ended up getting passed by the Frenchman anyway. But, at the time, it was a bold move. Ferrari needed Alonso to conserve the tyres and lap at a consistent pace – a tough call even for him.
The Frenchman’s Lotus is able to make tyres last longer than any of the front runners, it seems. Think back to Bahrain – both the Lotus cars made the podium as they managed to keep their pace high and tyre degradation low. It’s a characteristic that panicked the top strategists, and could be one that means we’ll have an eighth winner in the not-too-distant future.
Lewis is still fast, but now seems to be smart too
The Brit rolled back the years this weekend – daft to say, we know – and was searingly quick when it mattered. What he also managed to do, which was first evident in Spain, is control the degradation of the tyres to maximum effect. The boy is finally learning how to race, and not just drive fast.
He managed to make two stops work better than one, beating Grosjean and Perez, while the next fastest man to enter the pits twice was Vettel – who didn’t plan to – in 4th, 7.5s behind. The next two? Rosberg and Webber, 6th and 7th respectively, 13s and 15s behind the McLaren.
Is this the turning point in Hamilton’s title challenge? It could be, he seems more relaxed, he’s now got that win that was eluding him so much, and the next couple of tracks should play into his strengths. But, with the competition so fierce, it’s up to him to keep it up.
With a more well-rounded driving style, he might just do it.