Red Bull led F1 teams in Canada
After two days of rain, the Canadian GP ran in the dry, and remarkably the race passed without any safety cars or any major dramas among the frontrunners. It was thus atypical for a Montreal event, and Sebastian Vettel’s easy run at the front made for a relatively low-key afternoon.
Despite the hot conditions and lack of dry running in practice, tire degradation was not a major issue for most of the key players, and drivers were able to push harder than at many other events this year. Sadly, of course, the race was marred by the fatal accident to marshal Mark Robinson, who was struck by a recovery vehicle after the race.
Here’s how the weekend unfolded for the 11 teams.
Red Bull Racing
Vettel overcame the lottery conditions of qualifying to secure pole position, while Mark Webber backed him up with a solid third place. Vettel surged into the lead at the start and was never under threat, although he made a couple of mistakes along the way. Webber dropped behind Nico Rosberg at the start, but got ahead when the German made his second stop. He then damaged his front wing in a collision with Giedo Van der Garde, and was passed by Fernando Alonso. The team opted not to change his nose. Seemingly unaffected by the damage, he set fastest lap right at the end, before crossing the line fourth.
Fernando Alonso was fastest on Friday, but as in Monaco, he had a disappointing qualifying session, and had to settle for sixth. Teammate Felipe Massa had a heavy impact with a tire barrier in Q2 – his third accident in two race weekends – and started 16th. Alonso quickly passed Valtteri Bottas for fifth and then dealt with both Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber to move into third. He chased down Lewis Hamilton and relieved him of second with just seven laps to go. Massa spent a lot of time trying to pass Adrian Sutil, and having struggled on the supersoft tire, he eventually finished eighth.
After looking good in Monaco, McLaren endured a dire weekend in Canada. Neither driver made Q3, with Sergio Perez earning 12th and Jenson Button 14th after just failing to get round to start a final lap after Q2 was resumed. Things did not go much better come the race. Both drivers started on the option tire, but with Perez running a two-stop strategy, and Button one. They ran close together early on, with Jenson getting ahead when Sergio pitted. But the speed simply wasn’t there and they finished 11th and 12th, respectively, with the Mexican ahead by just 2.6 seconds at the flag. The team has a lot of work to do.
After a run of four poles for the team, Mercedes had to settle for second in Montreal after Lewis Hamilton jumped the final chicane on his final lap. Struggling without a radio in the complex session, Nico Rosberg was relieved to be as high as fourth. The German made a good start and got ahead of Mark Webber as the silver cars ran second and third initially, but he could not match Hamilton’s pace. Lewis ran a solid second for most of the race but in the closing laps was caught and passed by Fernando Alonso, while after making three stops Rosberg fell back to fifth by the finish. It’s clear that Mercedes is not yet on top of its tire issues.
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Lotus fell off the pace in Montreal, and Kimi Raikkonen could manage only ninth in qualifying, and then lost another place to a penalty. Romain Grosjean didn’t make it out of Q2 and a 10-place penalty he carried from Monaco dropped him from 19th to last. Raikkonen ran 10th initially, but as for much of the weekend, struggled with brake issues. He made one stop and finished a lowly ninth. Grosjean started on the mediums and did a long first stint that saw him eighth before he came in. However, tire issues meant he needed an unplanned second stop, and he fell back to 13th. With only three points in two races, Raikkonen’s title challenge has taken a real knock.
With his best lap ruined by the Q2 red flag, Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th, but penalties for Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo gave him a two-place boost. Meanwhile, teammate Esteban Gutierrez was down in 15th on a track he didn’t know. On the first lap, Hulkenberg lost out to both the penalized drivers and he had a quiet race in the middle of the pack until contact with the lapped Giedo van der Garde led to his retirement after 45 laps. Gutierrez managed to crash exiting the pits after his second stop, making Sauber the only team to retire both cars.
Adrian Sutil qualified a solid eighth while for a second race in a row Paul Di Resta didn’t make it out of Q1 after he lost time in the garage during the critical wet session. Sutil lost valuable places when he made contact with Valtteri Bottas and spun, which led to an early stop. He made up ground well but later had a drive through for ignoring blue flags ahead of the leaders, which dropped him to 10th. Di Resta drove an awesome 56-lap opening stint on the option tire. It earned him a superb seventh place as Force India again showed its mastery of the 2013 tires.
Valtteri Bottas was the undoubted star of the wet qualifying session, taking fourth in both Q1 and Q2 and following up with an astonishing third place in Q3. Pastor Maldonado had a heavy front end crash on Friday and qualified a modest 13th. Inevitably in the dry race, Bottas quickly went backward, tumbling down to sixth on the opening lap and then dropping to seventh. After his stop he faded away to finish 14th. He still managed to beat Maldonado, who had a lackluster race that included heavy contact with Adrian Sutil, which earned him a drive-through penalty. He finished 16th.
Jean-Eric Vergne earned his best ever grid position with seventh in the damp session, while Daniel Ricciardo made Q3 in 10th, but lost a spot to a grid penalty. Vergne not only held on to his seventh place at the start; he pulled away from the pursuing pack and then got ahead of Valtteri Bottas to claim sixth by a handy margin after an impressive drive. It was the team’s best result since the Sebastian Vettel says of 2008. Ricciardo had a good opening few laps to establish himself in ninth, but he began to struggle with oversteer, and fell off the pace. He finished well out of the points in 15th.
Charles Pic did well to qualify 18th, even beating the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Giedo van der Garde made a mistake in Q3 and ended up 22nd, although he gained a place from Grosjean’s penalty. It proved to be an eventful race for the Dutchman. He gained several places on the first lap but later had a tangle with Mark Webber that resulted in a drive through. After that, he had contact with Nico Hulkenberg, which earned a five-place penalty for Silverstone. Meanwhile, after a somewhat quieter afternoon, Pic brought his car home in 18th.
The Marussias were comprehensively beaten by Charles Pic’s Caterham in qualifying, with Jules Bianchi taking 20th and Max Chilton 22nd before Romain Grosjean’s penalty gifted both men a spot. The team went for a one-stop strategy, and initially the drivers struggled for pace on the prime tire. However, in the end it paid off for Bianchi as he beat countryman Pic to claim 17th. Chilton, meanwhile, struggled in his second stint on the supersofts and ultimately had to cede a place to Pic as he came home 19th and last of those still running.