The Ben Evans Column – Canadian crash-fest

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In between the Canadian Grand Prix crashes a bit of racing did go on at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Read our columnist Ben Evans’ thoughts on the race. Unless you’re Ralf Schumacher…

Well the Hamilton hype-ometer finally exploded into a orgy of Champagne spraying as ‘our Lewis’ claimed his first GP. It was a masterful drive – as others fell apart around him he kept his head and claimed as easy a victory as possible in the circumstances.

Aside from Hamilton’s win, the Canadian GP had everything – overtaking, accidents, controversy. Had it been a club Formula Ford race the whole field would have got a post-race bollocking.

As it was for the first time this year F1 was simply great telly (sadly the F1F budget doesn’t extend to trips to Canada).

A weekend of mixed fortunes for McLaren. Hamilton was imperious, but Alonso looked out of sorts and is starting to look like a win or crash racer.

After messing up the first corner Alonso was all over the place for much of the race and could perhaps count himself lucky to bag seventh. With the current points system an 8 point deficit at this stage could take a few races to make up.

Ferrari’s fortunes were even worse. Both Massa and Raikkonen had a torrid time. Massa was there or thereabouts in the race and would probably have bagged a podium but for his disqualification.

Mr Charisma himself the Kimster had another poor weekend – his Ferrari looked ill-suited to going round corners at anything like approaching race speed. If Raikkonen was even slightly likeable I’d have some sympathy for his predicament, but his maverick loner approach to racing rules that out as far as I’m concerned.

We learnt two things about BMW in Canada – they’re cars are as fast as they are strong! Nick Heidfeld drove the race of his life to claim second, a result he has richly deserved all year. If BMW don’t renew his contract they will have missed a trick.

Robert Kubica on the other hand is probably the luckiest man alive. Watching the accident for the first time I feared the worst – the energy of the impact was reminiscent of the Heidfeld/Sato smash at the Austrian GP in 2002.

Also making a bid for Crash of the Year award is Jarno Trulli, whose walk back to the pits on Sunday looked a long and hard one. The synchronised spin with Nico Rosberg was impressive, but to crash on the way out of the pits under a safety car, well, that’s something special.

Amazingly Trulli wasn’t the worst Toyota driver of the weekend – in fact Ralf Schumacher may still be circulating the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Toyota is the world’s biggest car manufacturer, so why do they have the driving equivalent of the Chuckle Brothers representing them?

There were long faces in the Honda pit as, for the second race in a row, they managed to contrive a pit stop strategy to rob Rubens Barrichello of a points paying position. Stunning.

Meanwhile ‘our Jense’ (remember him?) must be struggling to muster any enthusiasm for his work, seemingly spending more time uttering to Louise Goodman such platitudes as ?????ǣWell if everything goes well we’re in for a shout for 11th??????, or ?????ǣBy Brazil we hope to be qualifying on the fifth row?????? than driving a racing car.

Their satellite team Super Aguri may never recover from Monday’s hangover. Takuma Sato was my man of the race, and his move on Fernando Alonso for 6th was simply breathtaking – even though Alonso wisely let him have it (to have forced the issue would have put both of them out).

Anthony Davidson partook of an occasional Canadian Grand Prix institution – thinning out the local wildlife population. He flattened a groundhog (not, as was reported earlier, a beaver) which was unfortunate for both parties – it forced an unscheduled pit stop which dropped him out of the points.

Super Aguri are looking good, and could be really strong in 2008 provided they don’t have to run this year’s Honda.

Williams had another strong weekend, a podium for Alex Wurz a fine reward for years of testing and bright strategy, while Nico Rosberg had another spirited drive. Rosberg’s enthusiasm and Wurz’s experience are turning Williams back into a potent outfit.

Mark Webber managed to convert a strong qualifying position into ninth on a day when there weren’t many non-points paying positions left at the end of the race. DC (as Coulthard, Martin Brundle and Louise Goodman refer to him) parked up with gearbox failure.

Meanwhile, in the library at the weekend I discovered that Torro Rosso is actually Latin for Unnecessary Accident. Neither Scott Speed nor Tonio Liuzzi can feel that proud of their weekend’s work, but then that is hardly a new experience.

Most relieved man of the weekend (apart from Kubica) is Heikki Kovalainen who finally netted a decent finish. It was especially gratifying after his abject qualifying session. Meanwhile Fisi saw red (or, rather, failed to see the red) and got an early bath as a result.

The hot rumour of the weekend was that Adrian Sutil is dating one of the corner marshals who travel round with the F1 paddock. Its’ just a shame he usually only waits 20 laps to see her. Another sizable shunt and another second-hand Spyker.

Not to be outdone Christijan Albers monstered a kerb and damaged pretty much everything. Of the four safety car periods, two were caused by Spykers – most impressive, but hardly what the teams needs when the parent company has just mortgaged its own name to pay the paper boy.

Next up is Indianapolis where Ralf Schumacher usually stakes his claim for biggest shunt of the year. Although this time he may struggle to get through immigration, as his passport lists his profession is listed as ‘racing driver’.

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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4 comments on “The Ben Evans Column – Canadian crash-fest”

  1. Honda really messed up the race strategy twice in the row. Maybe they should drain some brains from Aguri …

    US GP at Indy has often quite low number of finishers so perhaps another chance for Honda to try :-)

  2. What has happened to Honda this year. They’re going backwards so fast the Super Aguri’s have overtaken them! Any further back, and they’ll be passed by the Spyker’s.

    Hopefully, the Williams team can continue their good performances from the last couple of races and get some more well deserved points. Keep them ahead of the WORKS Toyota team :)

  3. I would be quite happy for the Spykers to beat Honda in a way, because I am a Spyker supporter (by the way, I like Ben’s hypothesis on Adrian Sutil’s magnetic attraction to the walls)…

    …however, that’s not much help to the Honda team, who must be regretting the replacement of racers with corporate types. The latter may be great at road cars, but in the cut-and-thrust world of F1, more adaptable people are needed in certain key roles of the team.

  4. Honda should have the balls to revert to their old car and build from there….It’s obvious that one is doing better :)

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