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McLaren begin to steamroller the field

Posted by Carrot on June 13, 2010 | No Comments

Overcoming Red Bull’s superior strategy and maintaining better reliability than the Austrian team, as well as having both cars take Fernando Alonso on track, McLaren delivered their third 1-2 finish of the season in Canada. Running their own race they managed to capitalise on their strengths and dominate the rest of the field in a race where everyone (myself included) expected water from the sky and road cars from the pit lane.

Canada was round eight of this year’s calender, meaning that now McLaren have taken fully half the races that have been run, and 75% of those with 1-2 finishes. Given they’ve only managed pole position once, and have been running against the Red Bulls who have had nearly half a second at some tracks makes these results a phenomenal achievement. It was half way through last year that the McLaren went from being a backmarker to a car capable of winning races, if their development steamroller delivers the same performance this year from the halfway point then the laurels will be all but assured to be going back to the McLaren Technology Centre.

Ferrari returned with actual pace that they seemed to be missing in Turkey. Alonso reckons he was on for a race win had it not been for traffic. I think Alonso outperformed the machine today to drag it home ahead of the Red Bulls. With a major upgrade coming at the next race the Spaniard is still a force in the championship given his consistent ability to make the car faster than it is. Massa’s just signed a new two year deal and to celebrate the team obviously fitted special magnets that pulled him time and again into a Force India off the start. I don’t think I was the only one unimpressed by the Brazilian’s first couple of corners, the Scuderia might well be regretting that contract when Kubica becomes free again. Although it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve moved someone under contract out in favour of a new arrival.

The Red Bulls seemed a bit lackluster this weekend. They were still extremely fast, but it seemed like some of the fight was taken out of the team. The drivers were still going as much as they can so I can’t help but wonder if this drop in confidence has to do with the criticism levelled at Red Bull management since Turkey, perhaps Helmut Marko doesn’t take negative press well. Horner expects them to do better come Silverstone and Hockenheim, he better hope they can live with the development pace of McLaren and Ferrari or the latter half of the season could prove to be very embarrassing for Red Bull.

Rosberg managed to drag the Mercedes home in sixth, importantly ahead of the two Force India cars, it can’t have gone down well that they were the slowest of the three teams powered by their own engine after qualifying, particularly when it’s the best engine on the grid. Schumacher returned to his old tricks today, sticking people off the track rather than let them past him. Any other driver pulling the same kind of stunts would have received warnings for his driving. There seems to be far too much of a double standard with letting him get away with this kind of conduct, it’s not cute, it’s not fair and it is dangerous. There should be no exemptions made because of who he is, if a rookie would have got a penalty for an action Schumacher should get one as well.

Renault seemed to go backwards this weekend but that can be explained by their lack of horsepower. Kubica again came home in the points, although his moved into the pitlane wasn’t his best judgement ever. Petrov made a silly error by ending up on the grass before turn one and spent the rest of the race trying to make up for it.

Buemi scored points after a very impressive race. The F1 Forum erroneously analysed his battle against Alonso, he wasn’t a backmarker holding him up, it was a race for position due to Buemi running long on his first set of tyres. He was entitled to defend against the Ferrari and did so in a very calm and intelligent way, he backed Alonso into the rival behind and bought himself some space down the long straight. Unfortunately he was in the pits that lap, but the defence itself was impressive enough. It could well lead to some phone calls should there be some seats available higher up in the midfield for next year.

The two Force Indias rounded out the points paying positions with overtakes on Schumacher on the last lap. Although a double points finish is a good result, the fact that they out-qualified the Mercedes mean the lowly finish with respect to Rosberg must be disappointing for them. At least they are showing better form than they were at the same time last season.

While the rest of the world is being overexcited by a bunch of louts that fall over and hold their heads should a ball strike them on the shins, Formula 1 has delivered an excellent and exciting race. Much of the praise for this race has to go to Bridgestone who brought tyres that would go fast rather than be bulletproof. An exciting championship with tyres that must be changed a few times a race due to the performance they deliver is much better publicity that a boring championship where there’s a single round of ineffective pitstops because either compound would run the entire race without a problem. I’m not alone in encouraging Bridgestone to continue to build performance tyres rather than endurance tyres for F1.

Finally, we were back in Canada. The track was missed last year and in the year off the problem of crumbling tarmac seems to have been fixed. The fans were great, with the grandstands noticeably having fans even in practise. We don’t mind exciting tracks being on the calender providing we have a good reception and any major problems are overcome, we mind unexciting tracks with poor racing. The teams and sponsors say the USA is needed on the calender, the fans say they want Canada, better racing has always been had in Montreal.

P.S. Lee McKenzie says that only Massa was given a post race penalty (time added on that hasn’t affected the result), all other investigations only resulted in reprimands, so thanks to her for reporting that.

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