The Canadian Grand Prix was a terrific race, with Lewis Hamilton showing what he can do and McLaren getting it right. It was an interesting strategic fight, right from the start, but it was only in the closing laps that this became obvious to the world as the drivers tried to make their tyres last and pick the right strategies for the conditions. In the first stint Vettel led but Lewis began to close at the end as the Red Bull’s tyres began to go off. That was a bit of a surprise and it cheered up Hamilton no end. When the first pit stops were done it was Fernando Alonso who had somehow managed to get ahead of the two men who had been leading him in the first stint. Hamilton was having none of that and hustled his way into the lead during the 20th lap and then started to pull away. Thus it became a question of who could make the tyres last longest. Lewis had worked his hard and so on lap 50 he pitted for a fresh set. We expected Alonso and Vettel to come in too, but gradually it began to become clear that they were trying to get to the flag. At this point Hamilton began to charge. The team knew that if there was a Safety Car they would be in big trouble, but Ferrari and Red Bull were beginning to realise that they were going to have trouble getting to the end. If the two had covered Hamilton’s stop immediately they would have had a chance but as he came back at them, their hopes faded. The choice was to hang on and hope for a Safety Car, or cut the losses and get new tyres. In the end Red Bull realised that it was hopeless and pulled Vettel in. Ferrari went on and so as the raced came into its closing stages Fernando had to watch as Hamilton. Grosjean, Perez and even Vettel went past him. He only just held off Nico Rosberg. Thus Hamilton bolted to the top of the championship table, two points ahead of Alonso, three ahead of Vettel and nine clear of Mark Webber.
That aside the protesters may have been out there, but once I was concentrated on the race track there was no sign of anyone or anything. In town there were things going on, but the crowd was there and the protests were thus irrelevant. That is good news because the last thing f1 needs is every Tom, Dick, Harry and Abdul thinkingthat they can get in the papers by messing up the racing. In the Leader of GP+ we summed it up as follows:
“F1 does not exist to save the world. It is there to amuse and divert, and (if one
is cynical) to make the players and camp followers money. The races are staged in
order to bring money into a region. Local governments support such events because
they are good for the regional economy and good for their image and the image of
their region. The ruling classes may take advantage of this and use the race as a political
tool. The opposition can do the same. In Bahrain we saw both the government and
the protesters using the event, trying to further their causes. No-one really won, least
of all the sport. In Montreal the protesters (whoever they were) tried to ruin the event
and drive away spectators. F1 is a sport. It is supposed to be fun but is ultimately
meaningless. Yes, it gives pleasure to the fans. For others it fills a couple of hours on a
Sunday afternoon. That is how it should be.
Amen to that. Right, now I am off to buy a fur hat… (no, it is not for me). I am simply playing the role of hat hunter for a friend.