Well, it was the longest race in the history of F1 (4 hours & 4 minutes), but it was surely worth it. After the Red Flag, we all thought that this will be the end but fortunately it didn’t, infact it went the full distance with loads of action which gave us chill & thrill. Jenson Button of McLaren emerged as the Winner with Sebastian Vettel & Mark Webber, second & third respectively for Red Bull.
Here is the detailed report of the weekend:
All the teams were gearing up for the only race in North America i.e Montreal, Canada. Friday was a normal outing for all, as the teams tested the super-softs and soft tyres allocated for the race. The weather remained dry throughout the day. The session went smoothly for all the team as their prepared for Qualifying & Race. The pace was set by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. The only casualty was Vettel who hit the illustrious “Wall Of Champions”, and crashed out. Force India who generally do well in tracks like these had a good start to the weekend. Paul Di Resta finished at P8 while Nico Hulkenberg at P10. While Narain Karthikeyan finished at P24 in his upgraded Hispania Racing car.
FP2 began with the news of Sergio Perez of Sauber stating that he wont be driving for the weekend as he felt unwell while driving the car in FP1. He had a heavy shunt in the last race in Monaco. Filling his shoes was Pedro De La Rosa, Mclaren’s Reserve Driver. The pace was set by Fernando Alonso of Ferrari who were looking strong. Force India continued with their good start, Di Resta finished at P6 while Sutil finished at P11. Sutil was also involved in a crash as he hit the Turn Five Wall, thereby ending his session quite early. Karthikeyan finished at P23, continuing with the upgraded Hispania car. The session was interrupted twice by Red Flag, first due Kamui Kobayashi crashing at Turn Four and the other after Jerome d’Ambrosio crashing at the same place.
Its Saturday, teams were getting ready for FP3 and Qualifyings. All teams were set for the Final Testing, after making necessary changes from last day. The pace setter for this session was Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, though his team-mate Mark Webber didn’t get a run due to some KERS battery problems. Force India continued with there improved performance with Di Resta finishing at P9 while Sutil at P10, both quite evenly matched. Karthikeyan finished at P22 in his Hispania car. The session came to a pre-mature end when Pedro De La Rosa crashed his car at the exit of Turn Four. Everything was set for a good qualifying session, there were battles throughout the field, from the top battle for pole position between Ferrari, Red Bull, Mclarens to the fight in midfield including Force India, Sauber, Williams to the lower order Team Lotus, Virgin & HRT. All set, Q1 began and the cars went out in order to get through to Q2. Rain was expected, the weather was cloudy. Fernando Alonso set the top time of 1:13.822, the 107% time being 1:18.989. All teams were pressing hard to get to Q2, but unfortunately at the end of the session all the drivers of the new teams bowed out, with them Torro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari also went out in Q1. Both the Force India’s made it easily to Q2. Personally, I was expecting one car in Q3 at that time. Karthikeyan went out of Q1 but qualified for race under the 107% time with 1:18.574. Only driver failing to set a time under 107% was Ambrosio but was later cleared to race by the FIA stewards.
From the timings in Q1, it was all looking strong for Ferrari with Red Bull and McLarens chasing them closely. Further down, Force India were looking strong as they did during the whole weekend. Q2 began with cars heading out to go through to Q3. This time Felipe Massa set the top time for Ferrari with Red Bulls closely behind. At then of the session, all the Top Five teams (in Constructors Standings) made it to Q3. Force India’s Di Resta came very close to get in to Q3 with just few hundred of a seconds behind Lotus Renualts Nick Heidfeld, eventually ending at P11 with the time of 1:14.752, while Sutil qualified at P14 with the time of 1:15.287. Both of them later said that there last lap was ruined because of their mistakes. I was expecting one car in Q3 but seeing the close competition, P11 & P14 was a good result and very much for, in contention for points.
So, it came down to Q3 with the Top Five teams looking horns to get the Pole Position. It was all looking like Ferrari will get their first Pole Position of the season. It was really closely fought battle for the Pole Position, but it was Sebastian Vettel who made it 7 out of 7 to get the Pole Position. Both the Ferrari’s were very close but ended with Alonso in P2 & Massa in P3. Webber due to his KERS problems qualified at P4. The stage was set for an exciting race with two DRS zone and prediction of Rain and battles throughout the field. I was hoping for a double point finish for Force India, notably ahead of there direct competitors.
Sunday arrived with loads of rain in Canada, people were gearing up for the First Wet Weather of the season and tasting for the first time the Wet Pirelli tyres. Only man to have tested the wet tyres was Pedro De La Rosa. Just before the start of the race it was announced by FIA that the Race will start behind the Safety Car, which clearly ruled out the First Lap & First Corner actions. The race began behind the safety car with the drivers giving their views about the condition to help the FIA stewards. Finally the race began, Vettel leading the pack and the whole pack trying to over-take in a difficult track to race on. Hamilton was trying all his might to get ahead of his rivals. At first he had a spin with Webber and then later on while trying to over-take his team-mate Button on the start finish line, he eventually had a contact which led to his DNF, the Safety Car came out soon. The race continued behind the SC and soon the rain got heavy leading to the Race getting suspended for 2 hours 5 minutes. At the time of re-start, Vettel was leading with Kobayashi behind him, Di Resta was in the sixth place while Sutil in P13. That was not it for the days action, soon Alonso had a contact with Button with the Spainard suffering a DNF and SC car coming out once again. There was no penalties awarded to either of them after the race. As the SC came in, we saw Sutil getting investigated by the stewards for over-taking under SC and getting a drive-through penalty. He also had a contact with Rosberg when he tried over-taking him. He was running at P9 when he had to dive in for the penalty. While Di Resta was riding as high as P5 at one moment, he tried a move on Heidfeld but had a contact resulting in a nose change, to add insult to his injuries he was investigate by the stewards and got a drive-through penalty which pretty much ruined his race. Meanwhile the battle continued to get the P2 position with Kobayashi, Massa and Schumacher fighting hard, eventually, Schumacher got the advantage and overtook both Kobayashi & Massa to take the P2 place. It was a good move from the Former Champion. Soon we had another SC period after Heidfeld hit the back of Kobayashi, thereby loosing his front wing and crashing his car. After the debris was cleared, race resumed. There was an intense battle between Schumacher, Webber & Button, eventually Button got ahead of Webber due to a mistake by him, and soon he got ahead of Schumacher as well. He was seriously like the raging bull, charging through the field. Remember he was at one point in the last position. A few laps later, Webber overtook Schumacher pushing him down to P4. At the back Massa had a bit of a scare with Karthikeyan who was running a lap down, Massa tried to overtake him but lost control in the wet patch and hit the wall, resulting in a nose change, a strong weekend resulting in a disappointing end. Behind them Di Resta was trying like anything to get into the Top 10, eventually leading to his DNF after having a puncture in his rear tyre after hitting a wall. Sutil who changed to slicks earlier, had to retire due to suspension failure after hitting a wall. All in all a disappointing end to what could have been a god double point finish for them. Meanwhile, Button was pushing really hard behind Vettel, he eventually got past Vettel to get to P1 on the last lap when Vettel ran wide after braking early, giving the lead to Button and the win as well. A picture perfect finish to the race as Massa overtook Kobayashi just on the finish line!!
All in all the race was fantastic treat to the fans around the world. I myself enjoyed the race. It was a different feeling watching the race at about 3AM in the morning!! 4 hours 4 minutes went past like anything, I didn’t even realize it. Button clearly was the hero, 6 pit-stops (including penalty), overtakings, coming from last to first. Vettel was feeling a bit low , rightly so as he lead the whole race and one small mistake caused him the win and that too on the last lap. Force India should have got double point finish but I suppose all the good luck which they had during Friday and Saturday turned to bad luck on Sunday!! Karthikeyan finished at P14 but was demoted to P17 after suffering a 20 second penalty for cutting a chicane. But the Hispania’s proved to have good reliability. Next we move on to Valencia in two weeks time for the European GP, it should be cracker as well. Cant wait..!!