Tag Archives: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

2012 Canadian Grand Prix Preview

That time of year is upon us. I can’t believe it’s been one full year since I was sitting in a grandstand in the Senna S curve watching Formula One cars and getting a great tan. This weekend, despite the protesters wishes, the whole of Montreal will be reverberating to the sounds of 2.4 liter V8 engines as the best drivers take to the Circuit Gilles Villenueve. I am actually glad not to be there this year because of those hoodlums, but I still always wish I could be anywhere that sweet, sweet sound is being made. Anyway, let’s get right to it. As always, Lewis Hamilton looks quick, and we know he generally likes this track (he took his maiden win here). Over one lap, both he and the two (surprisingly enough) Ferraris looks to be the front runners for this race. However, the Mercedes has been decidedly slow all weekend and may have something up its sleeve for qualifying and the race. I also wouldn’t count out Vettel, who seems to be liking the Red Bull, despite its lack of straight line speed.

We also know that Montreal is probably going to give us the best racing of the year, so enjoy it while you can. With multiple spots to pass (the Senna curves, the hairpin, into the final corner, etc), the ever present threat of unpredictable weather – remember the two hour rain delay because of the torrential downpour last year when I almost developed hypothermia? Well I certainly do – a possible one-stop strategy, crashes and safety cars, this is going to be a great race.

1. Fernando Alonso

2. Lewis Hamilton

3. Felipe Massa

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Nico Rosberg

6. Jenson Button

7. Roman Grosjean

8. Kimi Raikkonen

9. Michael Schumacher

10. Kamui Kobayashi


An Amazing, Enthralling, Wet Canadian Grand Prix

I don’t think anyone saw that coming. Forget Monaco. Don’t even talk about the Chinese Grand Prix. And you can take the Turkish GP and toss it in the garbage. The Canadian Grand Prix was once again the highlight of the F1 season to date and provided thrilling racing right to the very last lap. Luckily, I was there to witness it in all its glory. This is the reason that I didn’t make predictions for this weekend, although, even if I had attempted to, they would have been entirely wrong as I would have had a Ferrari on the podium and never in a million years would I have had Button winning. But this was Montreal, and anything can – and did – happen.

Friday – Practice Day.

Friday was gorgeous. We got to the track around 10:30 or so and were in our stands in time to see the first practice session end, with Rosberg on top of the timesheets, and then we sat around taking pictures and generally soaking up the beautiful sun and great scenery that Circuit Gilles Villenueve and grandstand 11 have to offer. In the afternoon, it was Alonso giving the Tifosi in the crowd something to be optimistic about as he went fastest of all. The weekend was looking good for them and for the McLarens. Red Bull of course was not showing their hand, but they didn’t really have to as most would have thought that Vettel would be up to his usual fast tricks in qualifying.

Canadian GP Friday

Canadian GP Friday

Canadian GP Friday - McLaren Tattoo Guy

Canadian GP Friday

Nick Heidfeld

Fernando Alonso

Felipe Massa

Michael Schumacher

Fernando Alonso

Friday Crowd

Vintage F1 Cars

Vintage F1 Cars

Gilles Villenueve's Ferrari - Vintage F1 Cars

Jarno Trulli Opposite Lock

Felipe Massa

Heikki Kovalainen

Mark Webber

Jenson Button

Saturday – Qualifying Day.

Qualifying started at 1:00 so we had time to take a leisurely trek to the track and we ended up there about 11:30 or so and had lunch. Q1 and Q2 were pretty much what you would expect, with the big hitters doing a few laps each and then going back to the garage to await Q3. And once again, the Ferraris provided some hope as they were clearly loving the tires and the track. Vettel showed that he was indeed the fasted overall, with Alonso and Massa close behind. Webber was next followed by Hamilton, Rosberg and Button. Schumacher followed him with the two Renaults rounding out the top ten. This is sort of the status quo in F1 right now, with these five teams making up the Q3 session pretty much every race.

Nick Heidfeld

Lewis Hamilton

Sunday – Race Day.

I knew that rain was forecast. It was a 60% chance, which is pretty good odds. However, no one could have predicted the amount or the voraciousness of the rain that was to come. Watching the Ferrari support race was fun with the damp track and the lively nature of the cars, so I thought that the race would be pretty fun as well – as long as it didn’t rain any more. Boy, was I in for a shock. The start of the race was extremely uneventful as the cars started behind the safety car to clear water from the track before actually setting off. And once they did, it was action from the get-go. In the first corner (where I was sat) Webber was spun from behind and dropped back in the pack as the rest of the drivers blew past in a cacophony of highly strung V8 power and noise. For my money the V10s still sounded better, but these V8s are still something to behold. Case in point, the last time I was in Montreal, I wore earplugs, but I felt they were not needed this time around as the V8s don’t have the same aural presence or staccato that the V10s once had. This isn’t to say that these cars aren’t loud though. You could hear the engines in the city proper, which is almost two miles away!

After a few laps, the rain began to let up and the track began to clear of some of the water. Button, the star of the race, spectacularly came together with Hamilton soon after the rain let up right in front of the pit wall, causing his teammate to break the suspension on his car, ending Hamilton’s race right in front of the grandstand I was in (I’m serious about this grandstand 11 people). Some drivers then dove into the pits to slap on the intermediate tires as opposed to the full wet, which proved to be something of a disaster when the rain finally came down like God was pissing on all of us. Seriously, this rain was unbelievable. In fact, it was so bad that the entire race was red flagged (meaning stopped entirely) and the cars queued up on the starting grid. It was soon apparent that there was not going to be an end in sight for the rain and the drivers bailed from their machines and into the pits.

This left the crowd wondering what to do. Most, like my father and me, opted to wait it out and watch the entire race. Some others opted to leave the track and go home as they were cold, wet and disgruntled and didn’t know when the race would start again. These people were suckers as they missed the finish of probably the most exciting F1 race in four or five years. I was also a sucker in that I was only wearing my Ferrari shirt and a long sleeve shirt over that as well as my Ferrari flag as a cape. This did not keep me dry in the least and by the end of the race I was shivering so hard that I couldn’t hold a camera steady to take pictures and my dad thought I was going to get hypothermia. In fact, my shoes were so completely soaked through with water that they weighed over five pounds combined and didn’t even get fully dry after a full cycle of the dryer. But it was all worth it in the end. After two hours and five minutes, the race was restarted and the action began anew.

It was pretty clear that the rain was now going to hold off enough that a dry line could begin to form. And when a dry line begins to form, that means drivers are going to take a chance and put on slick tires. This means lots of interesting action for the fans and crashes and incidents galore. Some of the first cars out on track with the slicks were the backmarkers, meaning the bigger teams could watch their times to see if the dry tires were worth the chance. Turns out they were and soon everyone was sporting them. Just a few laps after the restart of the race, everyone had on dry weather tires and the racing got very intense. Button came together with Alonso and put him into the wall, causing the McLaren driver to pit again and on lap 40 of 70, he was at the very end of the pack. Felipe Massa also had an incident with the wall when he (as predicted by me) attempted to pass a very slow driver and slid the car into the wall, damaging the front end, but not ending his race. With other drivers crashing, including Nick Heidfeld pretty spectacularly after driving over his own front wing, Button began to catch the pack and was mounting a charge. All throughout the field battles were raging for the coveted podium steps. Vettel seemed to be in a league of his own, while behind him, it was a race to the finish between Schumacher, Webber and Button! Yes, Button made up over 20 positions in just about 20 laps. He was on an absolute tear and from the back of the pack made a spectacular couple of passes to catch, and pass, both Webber and Schumacher. But he wasn’t done yet. He was taking full seconds out of Vettel’s lap times, but everyone knew it was too close to the end and he didn’t have enough left in the tank to mount a full charge on the Red Bull. But Canada is different. Weird things happen in Canada. On the very last lap, at turn five, Button finally got close enough, or Vettel just lost his brain for a second, but a mistake was made and Vettel spun his car on the grass. This caused the crowd, and myself, to lose our collective minds! Button had done the impossible. He had started eighth. He had been in the pits six times. He had been relegated to the back of the pack with 30 laps to go, and now he was in the lead with half a lap left! It was unheard of. It was unprecedented. It was the Canadian Grand Prix. As he crossed the line, the crowd erupted. Everyone (with the exception of the Red Bull team and its fans I would guess) was jumping up and down and cheering for Button. And the race wasn’t even over yet as Felipe Massa also made a move on the last lap over Kamui Kobayashi to take sixth place right at the end of the lap. I don’t know what the times look like, but it was a literal photo finish for those two drivers with Massa crossing the line probably about a thousandth of a second before the Sauber driver. The end of this race will go down as one of the best finishes of the year and even though it probably won’t make any difference for the outcome of the season, it goes to show that perseverance is everything and that Canada is always the race to go to.

Here is the final finishing order:

1. Jenson Button

2. Sebastian Vettel

3. Mark Webber

4. Michael Schumacher

5. Vitaly Petrov

6. Felipe Massa

7. Kamui Kobayashi

8. Jaime Alguersuari

9. Rubens Barrichello

10. Sebastian Buemi

My Race Outfit. Not Meant to Ward Off Rain

Sunday's Crowd

Ferrari Support Race

Ferrari Support Race

Me. And this is before the really heavy rain hit.

Heikki Kovalainen

Michael Schumacher

Jenson Button

Lewis Hamilton

Mark Webber

Fernando Alonso

Sebastian Vettel

Felipe Massa

Fernando Alonso

Sebastian Vettel

First Lap After Safety Car. Webber Spun Out.

Vettel, Alonso, Massa Fight For Position

Massa on slick tires

Schumacher, Webber, Button Battle For Position

Pastor Maldonado Crash

Jenson Button Victory!

Massa after passing Kamui Kobayashi to take sixth.

On My Way To Canada In June

Well, it seems to be official. I mean, we have the hotel booked and the tickets have been purchased, so it looks like I’ll be heading to Montreal in June to see the F1 race! I was there in 2002 and Michael Schumacher took the 150th GP win for Ferrari and all the cars were running with those amazing V10 engines in the back. In fact, one of the reasons I want to get back there is that 1) I want to hear the V8’s before the whole sport is neutered with the silly 4 cylinder turbos in a few years and 2) life is short and you only live it once (at least I believe so) and this is one of those things that I have to do one more time. The last time I was there, it was a great weekend. The sun was shining (most of the time) and the race and supporting races were great. I will be in the stands that are labeled Silver 11, right at the end of the front straight and in the very action packed Virage Senna and I seriously cannot wait to be back at Circuit Gilles Villenueve. From the views of downtown and the river behind the stands to the ear-bleeding action on the track and the amazing Montreal nightlife and parties during the Grand Prix weekend, it should be a hell of a time. Of course, I still need to book a flight and get my passport renewed, but those are just little bumps that I will overcome tomorrow or the next day.

the circuit gilles villeneuve

the circuit gilles villeneuve and my seats

Race Eight: Canada

As is usually the case, the Canadian Grand Prix lived up to the lofty expectations that I had of it. However, I was wrong on a few of my predictions, but that in a bit.

The start of the race was a hectic affair that found no less than four cars involved in altercations. At the back, it was Vitaly Petrov and another car coming together (after Petrov jumped the start), while at the front, it was Felipe Massa and Tonio Liuzzi coming together. In fact, Liuzzi got spun around and fell to the back of the pack, but ended up storming through the race ending up ninth. This race was more exciting in the first 15 laps then most races are over their entire running. Canada is a special place where there are big speeds, little room and big crashes because of it. And although I predicted a big altercation at the first corner (sort of correct) I was surprised that there was not one safety car. I had predicted two or three I think, but this turned out to be a very subdued and well driven Canadian Grand Prix. True, there were many passes and lots of action on the track, but no one got overly ambitious and brought out the safety car. In fact, it was the first race held at the Circuit Gilles Villenueve since 2004 that did not feature the appearance of the safety car. So you can see why I made that prediction.

The other big story was that of the tires. With Bridgestone bringing the super soft and the medium compound tires, every driver complained of big time graining and degradation from the tires. Even the Bridgestone officials were shaking their heads at this saying that the tires would not last as long as the drivers needed them to. They were proven wrong of course, and many of the drivers ended up doing as many as 40 laps on one set of tires!

After the dust had settled, it was Lewis Hamilton who took the checkered flag. He was followed home by Button and Alonso. The Red Bulls were fourth and fifth and ended up there mostly because of poor tire choice and some problem with Vettel’s car. Either way, it shows that the McLarens are very good, Alonso is a beast of a driver, and that the Red Bulls – though fast at certain times – were not doing to well with the high speeds and low downforce of this track. Here is how they finished and then how I predicted the race.

1. Lewis Hamilton

2. Jenson Button

3. Fernando Alonso

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Mark Webber

6. Nico Rosberg

7. Robert Kubica

8. Sebastian Buemi

9. Vitantonio Liuzzi

10. Adrian Sutil
So how did I do, well, OK I guess. Here is my list and how I thought it would come out. Although, I did say that I just threw up some names hoping they would fall correctly. I really did not see Buemi scoring that high, especially not without any safety car periods, but that’s Canada for you. I will say that I correctly predicted Mark Webber, and came closer than I though on many of the top names, but was really off farther down the list.

1. Jenson Button

2. Sebastian Vettel

3. Lewis Hamilton

4. Fernando Alonso

5. Mark Webber

6. Felipe Massa

7. Adrian Sutil

8. Michael Schumacher

9. Nico Rosberg

10. Robert Kubica

The next race is in two weeks is the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain. This is one of the more boring races on the calendar, so pray for rain!!

On Friday, I mentioned that I would run down a little of Le Mans, and it was a great weekend for Audi, as they swept the top three podium spots, even though they were thoroughly outqualified by the much faster Peugeots. It seems that they had the reliability and the race pace to go the distance and made a name for themselves once again. Good for them.

Canadian GP Predictions

I think this may be a hard race to predict this weekend, mainly because there was so much difference between the first and second practice times. In the first practice, Button was way out front, but during second practice, he fell back to 11th and Vettel moved into the first spot. I am confused and flabbergasted and all sorts of other odd emotions. But, I will valiantly press on and try to predict what will most likely turn out to be a very unpredictable and epic race.

1.Jenson Button

2.Sebastian Vettel

3.Lewis Hamilton

4.Fernando Alonso

5.Mark Webber

6.Felipe Massa

7.Adrian Sutil

8.Michael Schumacher

9.Nico Rosberg

10.Robert Kubica

This one really is tough to call though because there are so many variables. Not only is the track graining all the tires on all the cars, but there are some seriously fast cars that haven’t really shown their hands (like the McLarens supposedly). I also would love to have the Ferraris gain some real points, but I just can’t ever put them up that high, as their race pace seems to be really lacking compared to the other teams, especially Red Bull and McLaren, and even to a certain extent, the Mercedes and the Renaults. Plus, everyone knows that Canada is one of the most safety car heavy races on the calendar and it will mess all the results up. Really, what I have here, is a shotgun blast of names, and hopefully some of them will fall correctly. This should be quite the race… or it had better be.

Big Race Weekend

Well, it should be a busy weekend for racing huh? First off, we have the Canadian Grand Prix, which sees the Formula One circus returning to North America after a year off. The race always provides epic racing, entertaining overtaking maneuvers and some very surprising winners. The last two times this race was run, the winners were Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton. For both it was their first ever wins in the sport. Supposedly the weather forecast is for rain during qualifying and a slight chance for the race itself. If nothing else, this should provide ample entertainment and shuffle up the order of the starting grid.

The other big race going on this weekend is, of course, Le Mans. I don’t really follow this race like I probably should, but this year, like just about every other year, the battle at the front will be between Audi and Peugeot in their diesel powered prototype cars. Eerily quiet and devastatingly fast, these two manufacturers really seem to have it in for each other during this weekend of the year. At any other time, the two would never really come into contact as they are in different brackets for car sales. Either way, it should be an entertaining 24 hours of racing.

Friday will feature my usual guesses and then next week I will have a rundown of the Canadian race, plus a little bit on Le Mans and the winners there and if anything huge happened in France or not. Something big usually happens in both races, so we shall see.

Race Seven: Turkey

In what can only be described as a “very idiotic and stupidly moronic racing accident” the Red Bull team saw themselves lose out on the top two steps of the podium because the teammates ran into each other. This was unfortunate for the team, but gave us F1 fans a much needed boost to the season. This past Sunday saw the Formula One circus head to the Hermann Tilke designed Turkish Grand Prix circuit in Istanbul. The big story all during the race, up until lap 41, was how quickly the Red Bulls and McLarens were going. Both teams were stretching their legs and running away with the race. So far ahead were they, that all four of them could have comfortably stopped in the pits and still come out in front of fifth place Michael Schumacher. And one of them would have to test that, because on lap 41, diving down toward turn 12, the fastest part of the track, Sebastian Vettel decided to have a go at his teammate and race leader, Mark Webber. However, as he closed up and got to the inside of Webber, he seems to have made a deliberate juke to the right – directly into Webber’s sidepod. This move destroyed Vettel’s rear suspension and sent Webber into a spin. Vettel’s race was over and Webber had to charge around the track and get a new nose on the next lap. This move was one of the worst decisions I have ever seen in Formula One. I can see if two cars take each other out, but for teammates to do it, it is inexcusable.

This move gave the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton (Lucky Lewis again?) and Jenson Button the one-two that Red Bull thought they had in hand. However, they started dicing themselves only a few laps later, and ended up bumping each other as well! Lucky for them, they did not do more damage to their cars or it may have been a spectacularly weird day. People are now really starting to talk about a rift forming in the Red Bull squad, and I don’t doubt there are some hot heads right now, but the team has to be a team and continue forward. Each person has to take some responsibility and simply move on to Canada. So then, on to the top ten finishers and how my picks stacked up this week.

1.Lewis Hamilton

2.Jenson Button

3.Mark Webber

4.Michael Schumacher

5.Nico Rosberg

6.Robert Kubica

7.Felipe Massa

8.Fernando Alonso

9.Adrian Sutil

10.Kamui Kobayashi

I did correctly predict that Massa would outpace Alonso, but that seemed to all be down to a poor qualifying performance on Alonsos part. If he would have gotten into Q3, I thoroughly believe he would have trounced Massa. Something needs to get right in Massas head I think. He isn’t performing like he used to.

1.Sebastian Vettel

2.Mark Webber

3.Lewis Hamilton

4.Felipe Massa

5.Fernando Alonso

6.Jenson Button

7.Nico Rosberg

8.Adrian Sutil

9.Michael Schumacher

10.Robert Kubica

So, I called the one-two, and got desperately close to it actually happening. If Vettel would have pulled the move off, I would have actually had the top three exactly right! And if not for Vettel being the only one out, I would have had all of the guys in the top 10 correct, but Kobayashi snuck in there as a result of Vettel’s hotheadedness. In two weeks, the racing takes place on an island in Montreal. It will be hot, crowded and a fantastic race as always. Be sure to watch for a lot of safety car action because of tons of accidents. Seriously, Canada always provides some of the most compelling racing of the season, and I see no reason why this year will be any different. Be there in two weeks time for all the action that Montreal can, and will, provide.