Four safety car periods, countless accidents, one broken leg, two disqualifications and you might as well as throw a partridge in a pear tree in as well, such was the drama of todays Canadian Grand Prix. With Lewis on pole position and Alonso in second, the McLaren pair should have dominated the race from lights out to chequered flag. But going into turn one on lap one, Fernando Alonso tried to make a move around the outside and got caught out by the greasy track surface. Alonso ran across the grass and lost out to Nick Heidfeld in the process. From there, Alonso’s race went downhill while Lewis’ just got better and better.
Jenson Button didn’t make off the start line unfortunately, and his Honda was wheeled away and into the garage on effectively lap zero. Honda’s woes continue, and with only 12 cars finishing, not even Rubens Barrichello could claim a point for the beleaguered outfit, finishing in twelfth and last.
Lewis started to build up a lead over Heidfeld in second, who was controlling Alonso behind and seriously hampering the Spanish champion. But with the BMW running so well all weekend, there wasn’t much Fernando could do and he had to sit behind Nick for more than a fair few laps.
On lap four, Scott Speed made a lunge down the inside of Alex Wurz and damaged his suspension. The Californian driver retired his Toro Rosso while Alex continued with a damaged rear wing. Thankfully it didn’t cause to much of a problem for the Williams driver, who ended finishing on the podium.
The first Safety car was deployed on lap 23 following Adrian Sutil’s clouting of the barriers. With a lot of carbon fibre on the track, the Mercedes toured the circuit to give marshals time to sweep everything up. Now, this is where it all gets a bit confusing.
As soon as the safety car is deployed, the pit lane is closed. All drivers must line up behind the car. Once everyone is in position, the lapped cars may overtake the safety car, tour the circuit and rejoin in race position (and unlapped). The pit lane then reopens, but the exit may be closed if the safety car is nearing the first corner.
Lewis managed to sneek his stop in before the SC period, and the Ferrari’s had to wait another lap before being allowed to come in. When the pit lane did open, Raikkonen had to queue behind his team mate in the box.
On the restart, Hamilton controlled the pack and got away cleanly from Heidfeld. Everything appeared to settle down again but on lap 26 Robert Kubica had the mother and father of all accidents and piled his BMW into the scenery in a very dramatic manner. The result of his accident is a broken leg, and it meant a long period of safety car laps while the medics assisted the Polish driver at the side of the track.
Kubica’s accident reminds me of Olivier Panis’ smash at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve many years ago, which resulted in the French driver breaking both his legs. Panis was soon back in action though, and actually raced again before the season was out. Kubica will almost certainly have to sit out the next few rounds of the championship, but I’m sure he’ll be back in action before you know it.
So another SC period followed, and while the Mercedes was touring, Alonso and Nico Rosberg were given 10 second drive-thru penalties for entering the pit lane while it was closed. The drivers are not allowed to take their penalties until the SC comes in.
On lap 33, the race restarted and Kimi Raikkonen slips on the dust down at the hairpin. Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri slips past into tenth place and ahead of the Ferrari. Three laps later and both offending drivers take their drive-thru penalties. And after coming out of the pits, Nico is desperate to make up places again. He makes a move on Ralf Schumacher, and both cars spin. Upon initial observation, one would say they touched each other, but looking at the on-board cameras, they both spun without touching and completely separate from each other.
Lap 50 sees Christijan Albers damage his Spyker and leave more debris on the track. Cue safety car period number three. Over on Twitter, Tom commented how he thought the safety car will end up leading more laps of this race than Lewis Hamilton! Again, while the SC is out, it is reported that Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella have been disqualified. When the SC was last out for Kubica’s crash, Massa and Fisichella pitted, but left the pitlane when the red light was on. This light indicates that drivers cannot leave because the safety car is nearby. Both drivers cruise into the pits and retire from the race.
Lap 54, SC in. Lap 55, SC out. Again. For the fourth time. Vitantonio Liuzzi shakes hands with the Wall of Champions. His Toro Rosso being abandoned in a dangerous place. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli makes a pit stop under the SC period, and upon leaving the pitlane slides of the track and into the wall. Trulli retires from the race.
Lap 60 sees the cars racing again, and Lewis Hamilton once again has to build up a lead over Nick Heidfeld. Fernando Alonso puts his foot down and passes Ralf Schumacher for seventh. Barrichello pits from 3rd and Alonso is promoted up to sixth. But a charging Takuma Sato takes the place with two laps to go and finishes in sixth, claiming three points for Super Aguri. Honda are still yet to score a single point.
Lewis Hamilton wins his first race, and what a race it was!? With the enormous pressure of the safety cars, drivers throwing themselves into the scenery and five starts in total, the young rookie drove well to collect 10 points. Fernando Alonso has taken a hit in the championship, but he is still in second and only eight points down on his team mate. Ferrari will undoubtedly want to forget about this weekend, with Massa being disqualified and Raikkonen only picking up 4 points.
Nick Heidfeld claimed the second place he deserved after running so well all weekend, and Alex Wurz stood proudly on the podium again (about ten years since his last journey up there) for Williams. Ralf Schumacher doubled his total points haul today by claiming the final point of the day.
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