• Canadian Grand Prix - The Final Stint

Predictably unpredictable

Chris Medland and Laurence Edmondson
June 10, 2012
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Button's woes

There is only one thing worse for a racing driver than being slow and that's not knowing why you are slow. In every media interview since his post-qualifying press briefing in Spain, Jenson Button has been asked if he has a solution for his apparent lack of pace and in every interview he has responded: "I don't know." Most worrying is that things appear to be getting worse rather than better after he had to make three pit stops in Canada and was lapped by his team-mate. It's a downward spiral and he's already admitted that he does not think he can find a solution before the next round in Valencia. It also leaves McLaren with a tricky problem; does it continue to develop the car to suit Hamilton - as it appears to be doing at the moment - or does it throw some resources at trying to find a solution for Button?

Ferrari's failed gamble

After six races of damage limitation, Ferrari changed tack in Canada and went all out for the win. The decision to try to convert Fernando Alonso onto a one-stop strategy was brave, but to stick with it when it became clear it wouldn't work was bordering on foolish. Hamilton pitted for fresh tyres 20 laps from the end while Alonso and Ferrari attempted to make their tyres last 50 laps. If the race had been ten laps shorter it would have worked, but it wasn't and within a couple of laps of Hamilton's second stop it became clear Alonso was not going to be able to hold off the McLaren. At that point Ferrari should have reacted in order to block off the mounting threat from Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez, but instead it stuck to its guns. It cost Alonso four positions and eight world championship points, not to mention the lead in the drivers' championship. It was an unnecessary risk and one the team probably would not have made earlier in the season when the car was less competitive.

The Story of the Weekend

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  • Shock Sergio Perez - He predicted a podium finish himself in the driver press conference on Thursday, but few would have put money on it when he qualified in 15th place. To see him steaming through the field late on caught many observers out
  • Shocker Jenson Button - He may have missed a lot of Friday's running, but Button really can't get on top of these tyres and for the second race in succession was in danger of being beaten by a Caterham
  • Best overtake Sergio Perez - Getting the run on Rosberg and Massa out of the final chicane, his path was blocked but he managed to maintain the momentum to drive around the outside of the Mercedes in turn one
  • Best lap Lewis Hamilton - When making his second stop, Hamilton was slightly delayed but immediately pumped in such fast sectors that Alonso and Vettel were forced to try to run to the flag
  • Worst lap Felipe Massa - On lap six, Massa inexplicably dropped his Ferrari exiting turn one and immediately threw away any chance of serious points
  • Drive of the day Sergio Perez - While Button came through in 2011 he had the help of the weather and safety cars. Perez had neither, but gained an incredible 12 places to finish just 5.2s off the lead

Perez's emphatic response

Having been linked with a driver at Ferrari for much of the early part of the season, Sergio Perez's confidence may have suffered a bit of a blow when Luca di Montezemolo claimed that he had neither the experience nor the results behind him to be considered. Perez responded by predicting a possible podium on Thursday, but even that looked nigh-on impossible when he was starting from 15th place on the grid. Right on cue, Perez delivered a faultless drive - probably better than Malaysia when he ran off track challenging Alonso - to climb through the field while Felipe Massa spun out of serious contention early on. He may still lack the experience, but a second podium of the season while Massa has yet to finish in the top three for nearly two years means he now has the results.

The lottery continues

While some observers have become worried that the current unpredictability in Formula One could be a bad thing for the sport, there was something surprisingly predictable about the seventh different winner of the season. Lewis Hamilton has been looking quick and in form since the second he took to the track in Australia, but for various reasons his first win of the year had eluded him until now. Hamilton took his third victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after a battle with Alonso and Sebastian Vettel - hardly an unlikely trio - but the extra ingredient we have this year is that the likes of Lotus and Sauber were on hand to pick up the pieces when those ahead made the wrong strategic call. It's anything but boring.

Unlucky No. 7 for Schumacher

Michael Schumacher was banking on superstition to deliver him a good result this weekend as he attempted to become the seventh different winner himself. His car bears the number seven, he has seven world titles and has won in Montreal on seven occasions. You got the impression the lack of luck so far was the reason for such straw-clutching, and unfortunately it was a case of déjà-vu as Schumacher's race was ended once again by a mechanical failure. Of his five retirements so far this season, only one has been through driver error (when Schumacher ran in to the back of Senna in Barcelona), and as a result Schumacher has just two points from the opening seven races. While Mercedes didn't have the pace to challenge for the podium in Canada, you can't help feel that the most successful driver in the history of the sport is on the verge of another victory if he could just catch a break...

DRS debate

Last year's Canadian Grand Prix saw two DRS zones and overtaking was widely agreed to be too easy. This year just one zone was allocated, and even that was shortened. A number of passes were made using DRS ahead of the final chicane with the speed differential evident, but was it too easy again? The possibility to overtake with relative ease opened up strategic options such as that used by Hamilton when he backed himself to overtake the cars in front following his second pit stop. But similarly it made the likes of Alonso a sitting duck when under attack. It may not have challenged the drivers too much, but Nico Rosberg's move around the outside of Kimi Raikkonen was the system working at its best. At the very least it was certainly the perfect fillip to the lack of overtaking in Monaco.

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