So we made it through to race day and the weather was per forecast – wet. Personally, I like watching wet races, it adds a lot of unknowns to the equation. One of the big unknowns was how the cars will work on the Pirelli wets and intermediate tires as the teams have done little or no testing on them.
A beautiful Austin Healey 3000
And today delivered, I’ve no idea when there was a race as full as this one. Today was why racing can be so special. It was a absolute top drawer drive from Jenson Button, 21st and dead last to top step of the podium. Being in the wonderful position of having no real skin in the game I was able to sit back and enjoy the spectacle that unfolded in front of me.
This has been a great Grand Prix weekend, Montreal is a city that totally embraces this race, and downtown hums every evening over the weekend. I was lucky I had invites to a couple of events, but even without that there is so much going on. Boredom is never an option in this city. ”’i just wish I’d had the energy to keep up with the parties, receptions and events that I got invites too.
Overtaking in the Ferrari Challenge support race
The race was stopped after 30ish laps due to rain, it was coming down so hard and from my seat at the second hairpin there was no cover. I had a couple of options on where to watch from and for me this is the pace to watch a F1 car in action. Braking from 305KPH to 50 and then accelerating through the gears as it pulls away. Add a wet track to the mix and the braking zone became a very exciting place to watch.
Tifosi, but with a French accent
It took a little over two hours before the race restarted, I think they were a little too conservative, most of the standing water had been removed and the rain had stopped.
Prior to the restart I moved a grandstand after the final chicane. Mostly because it was under cover, a little late as I was soaked through, but it provided a wonderful spot to watch the race unfold with so much happening right in front of me.
Vettel in another really pretty Austin Healey
Where I ended up had the England-Spain game from the UEFA U21 championship on TV, at half time the TV got switched back to the race channel and we were off again. Unfortunately it was behind the Safety car, but after two hours all I cared about is we were going again..
The race went green and almost immediately it drying out and once someone showed the switch to intermediates was a good idea everyone would go. Four laps later everything started to happen.
Alonso was high centred after a coming together with Button (who was having a busy afternoon). This brought out the safety car once again, and Button came in for his fifth stop of the afternoon. He left with a new wing and fresh rubber. Alonso was out and Button was dead last of the 21 cars left running.
Nearly everyone took the opportunity to come in after the Safety car left to change from wets to intermediate tires.
Rosberg after spinning out, a long way from the track
A fantastic battle was emerging for seconds between Kobiayashi (really good in the wet, lost time as it dried. Japan may be yet to produce a world champion, but Japanese drivers all know how to drive in the wet), Massa and Schumacher. Schumacher looked excellent and went from fourth to second just before everyone decided pretty much en-mass that it was time for slicks.
There was enough of a dry line that emerging that slicks were the right decision and were worth an immediate 3-4 seconds a lap advantage. Schumacher looked like this may be the comeback race that will show he is still to be reckoned with. He went for it on slicks, showed flashes of what we expected when he came back last year, and looked especially good under braking.
Rosberg, Button, Schumacher
Another safety car closed everyone up again, this was turning into a very fun race with so much going on up and down the field. Out front Vettel looked comfortable, he was a happy 5 or 6 seconds in front and seemed to be able to keep that distance what ever happened behind him.
Most notable, Button went from 21st to fourth in about 20 laps and was not done yet. Webber made a mistake and Button took third and shortly afterwards took care of Schumacher as they crossed the start line. Schumacher on the dry line and Button deep into the damp part of the track with the DRS deployed. It was brilliant, brilliant stuff from Button, taking huge risks going onto the damp track looking for the opportunity.
Vettel and Alonso behind the safety car
There were 4 laps left, Button was second, taking significant time out of Vettel every lap and the German was unable to respond. On the penultimate lap Vettel made a huge mistake and had a big tail out moment (not sure where, second chicane maybe) that gave Button the chance he needed to take the lead. I think Turkey last year was the last big mistake I can think of from Vettel, considering how dominant he’s been since then that’s remarkable.
This was a great individual drive, not in a “Senna at Donnington – genius at work” way, but because anything could have happened today. That Sunday at Donnington we watched a master in control, today was an inspired drive by Jenson Button, but one full risks. He got a little luck to go his way (and a mistake by clearly the best driver in the sport) and made the best of it. I don’t mean to diminish what Button achieved, as he drove a great race and must be very satisfied with his drive, it was a privilege to watch.
This is one of the most memorable races I’ve ever seen in 25 years of following the sport, and not just because I was there. This contained everything a great sporting moment needs, drama, unpredictability, someone riding their luck a little and producing something spectacular from it.
I was soaked to the skin, and I mean soaked. Even my wallet was saturated, I just hope the camera starts working again when it dries out.
Heidfeld, De Resta, De La Rosa
Time to head back to the hotel, dry out and think about dinner tonight. Wet races are unpredictable, and today was no different. That was an outstanding race, and England came back to draw 1-1 with Spain. Thank you to Brian, Joel and Sue for the tickets. This was a great weekend of racing. I love this sport.
Oh yeah, one last thing, it started sheeting down with rain again a few minutes after the race finished.