Once again, the Formula One roadshow traveled to the home of the Quebec Seperatists for the 50th Canadian Grand Prix, and of course, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a place with some good history for Australian drivers in Formula One.
It was in Montreal in 1980 that Alan Jones wrapped up Australia’s last Drivers Championship by winning the Canadian GP, and back in 2014, I stayed up to watch the race on what was a Monday morning, and watched in utter amazement as both Mercedes lost power, and our own Duncraig Dan made a late charge to be the Johnny on the Spot to reap the rewards, passing Nico Rosberg with two laps to go, claiming his maiden win in Formula One.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t much of a chance of happening this weekend.
The only real shock of Q1 was Kimi Raikkonen being knocked out in the opening session for the first time since Austria 2015 (Some 80 races ago) but in Q2, things got wild.
With most of the field on their final flying laps, Kevin Magnussen lost control of his HAAS at the Wall of Champions, and slammed into the pit wall at a lazy 54g (He wasn’t hurt), causing a red flag end to Q2, which also caused Max Verstappen to miss Q3 and start from 11th, after taking too long to post a time on soft tyres.
Q3 was the first time since Bahrain that Ferrari were finally able to put up a huge fight against the Silver Arrows, and on his last run, Sebastian Vettel was able to smash Lewis Hamilton’s marker and grab pole by 2-tenths, but even better for ‘us’, Duncraig Dan pulled off his best qualifying performance of the year, finishing up in 4th, 8-tenths off Vettel, and beating both the Red Bulls, the best Qualifying result for Renault since Robert Kubica qualified 3rd for the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix.
Much like Hamilton’s lap in Monaco a fortnight ago, Vettel’s 1.10.240 smashed the unofficial lap record.
A superb qualifying result for Renault with Hulkenberg starting from 7th, finally getting some reward for effort in 2019, and for the first time all season, Dan’s pearly whites were shining for all to see.
Whenever Dan racks up a superb result in Qualifying, I always expect something horrible will occur during the race and rob him yet again of a good result.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
There was drama at Mercedes before the race, when Hamilton’s car had a hydraulic leak in his power unit, forcing the team to disassemble the car, take out the engine, and perform an estimated six hour job in two-and-a-half hours, completing the job a mere 10 minutes before the pit lane opened for the race.
That German efficiency.
Anyway, most of the race was pretty uneventful- Vettel led from Hamilton, Verstappen charged through the field, Dan was comfortably in 6th, while pretty much everyone in the points was able to get through the race on a one-stop for hard tyres.
Valtteri Bottas ended up being the only driver to two-stop, which was purely to go for the Fastest Lap bonus point at the end of the race, which he achieved with a lap record on Lap 69.
Although before Valtteri made his final stop, he had to overcome some extremely desperate defensive driving from Ricciardo, who usually finds himself being the one to “Lick the stamp and send it”.
Anyway, the race was plunged into hot spicy drama on Lap 48, when Vettel, under pressure from Hamilton, made an error and locked his rear brakes at Turns 3 & 4, sliding off the track and re-emerging straight into the path of Hamilton, with Seb having to make a steering correction to avoid taking himself and Lewis out of the race.
The incident remained under investigation for 10 laps, until on Lap 58, Vettel became the victim of the most controversial stewards decision of the season, slapped with a 5 second time penalty for that dangerous re-entry, and with Hamilton only 2 seconds behind him, was a mortal lock to cost him the race.
Further back, with Hulkenberg closing in on Dan with 15 laps to go for 6th and 7th, Renault APPARENTLY told both cars to hold position and lock up the double points finish, something which irked Hulk, since he had a huge chance of beating Dan in an even fight.
I can only assume that finding both cars in a points position caused Cyril Abiteboul and the rest of the brains trust to freeze in shock for the entire race.
As a result of the penalty, Hamilton was the unofficial winner by 3.6 seconds from Vettel, with Charles LeClerc winding up in a lonely 3rd, while Bottas finished 4th with the Fastest Lap bonus point, and in his best result of the season, Duncraig Dan finished as the best of the lapped cars in 6th, as Renault scored their first double points finish this season with Hulkenberg’s 7th place, lifting them into 5th in the Team’s Championship.
Ironically enough, the last time I can remember a driving losing a race because of a time penalty was Lewis himself, way back in Belgium in 2008.
Supposedly, Vettel was so pissed off that he’d planned on boycotting the podium ceremony and copping the wrath of the stewards, although Ferrari shut down that plan.
He did swap the 2nd and 1st markers in the pit lane, and made his frustrations known to the world after the race.
Hamilton got booed by the pro-Ferrari crowd purely for being the poor bastard to benefit from the penalty, although he did his best to appease the booing by bringing Seb alongside him on the top step.
The Scuderia have announced they intend to appeal the decision, so this should go on for a good few weeks, before being thrown out.
So to finish off, Mercedes somehow win again, and for once, a great result for Dan and Renault, as they now wait a fortnight for Paul Ricard and their home Grand Prix in France!
AND AS A RESULT OF FINISHING 6TH, DAN HAS NOW PASSED 1000 CAREER POINTS IN FORMULA ONE!