The 2011 Canadian GP – Sunday

Sunday 12th June 2011

If I could sum up today in one word it would be wet!

Used to the British GP held in British summertime we went well prepared (or so we thought) with waterproofs, hats, an umbrella and a poncho …yet somehow we still got soaked to the skin!

The morning was drizzly and the support vehicles getting stuck in the mud kept the crowd entertained. We covered up well and we remained dry, albeit cold as the rain stopped. It was really strange listening to conversations around us – there were some big F1 fans but also some that didn’t have a clue about the sport – all they knew was that F1 is cars that have four wheels racing around a track. I don’t know if it was the rain but the atmosphere wasn’t as good as at Silverstone – I guess there are home drivers and teams when racing in Britain.

As for facilities, there were quite a few food stands by the back of our grandstand and we were lucky to have a proper toilet block (presumably built for the olympics as they were next to the lake) near us. There weren’t that many merchandise stands or displays at the track (or at least I didn’t see them), I guess that is due to lack of space! I didn’t realise quite how many lakes are in and around the circuit.

So the race itself. It started behind a safety car due to how wet it was and it was an eventful opening stint; sitting at the hairpin is brilliant as there is jostling going on lap after lap there. Hamilton & Button met on the same piece of tarmac on the start finish straight forcing Hamilton to retire, and Button got a penalty for going too fast behind one of the safety cars, putting him plum last. He started his charge as the rain started up again and was red flagged.

 

A lot of people got up from the grandstand and went and sheltered but we stayed where we were for the majority of the red flag, scouring the sky for any sign it was going to stop raining. Huddled up we kept relatively dry for a surprising amount of time, eventually getting damp around the edges. I thought I’d been at Silverstone in some rainstorms (2008 anyone? 1998 also stands out in my mind) but that was nothing like the amount of water that fell on Montreal. I honestly thought we’d gone all that way and we weren’t going to see a race as the sky was just black as far as the eye could see. When the rain eased off marshals and circuit officials gallantly tried to clear some of the water, but it was a loosing battle as once more the rain would start up again.

Finally the sky started to brighten up and there was hope of a restart. I had a spare jumper in my bag and as the rain eased off I changed into it – the t-shirt I had on under my waterproof jacket had got damp at the bottom which had soaked upwards! So although my waterproof hadn’t let water through, it had come up from the bottom soaking me anyway.

As you will have seen at the time, it was a great race. If I remember rightly (and I might not as its hard to keep up with the race when you’re there, so combined with my memory and who knows what I’ve remembered!) Button was back to last after tangling with Alonso and had an absolute stormer of a race to not only claw his way back up the grid, but to catch Vettel and capitalise on his mistake on the last lap to take the win. All through the race we were cheering Button on, along with the Force Indias and Lotus Renaults, but I didn’t actually think he would be able to win! It really made sitting out in the rain worthwhile.

After the race ended we all went on the track and we made our way down towards the pits. The straight between the hairpin and the final chicane at the pit entry didn’t feel that long, but that was probably because it was so exciting being on the track! A crowd was by the wall of champions but we still managed to get quite close which was surreal. As we were exploring the start finish straight, an even heavier downpour started, so it was lucky the race had ended, or it would have been red flagged all over again! Peering over the pitwall we could see the cars in parc ferme – if I ever get to attend a race with paddock/pit lane access I definitely want to wander down to see what is going on there! A few million pounds worth of cars, all parked waiting to go through scrutineering.

A row of security guards were soon coming down the start finish straight to get spectators out so we couldn’t spend very long watching the pack up process, or get any further down the track. We returned to the hotel wet and tired, intending to get a hot shower and go experience more of Montreal. In the end we couldn’t face going back out in the rain and ordered Dominos pizza to be delivered to our room (what did people do before the internet and online ordering of food?). It was a good job as I fell asleep mid pizza!

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F1 Bloggers Swap Shop : 6 Teams to watch in 2011

This month I’ve taken part in Viva F1‘s Bloggers Swap Shop, writing for The Northern Waffler. I’m hosting Matthew Turnbull who has written about his 6 teams to watch in 2011….take it away Matthew!

Formula One can be a cruel and tough place for new, undeveloped teams as we saw in 2010 with many of the new teams. There was an unusual amount of new teams applying for entry in 2010 and with only 4 places available, money was always going to be a priority.

The four teams that fulfilled their dreams of reaching the greatest motor racing stage were Lotus Racing, Virgin Racing, Sauber and Hispania Racing. Sauber were a quick redesign of the previous BMW Sauber team and didn’t struggle to find their pace and challenge for points. But it was a different story for the others.

Lotus and Virgin improved throughout the season but Hispania didn’t improve at all. Their driver line up was constantly being changed and they were clearly strapped for cash. Surprisingly, Hispania have survived but will they be one of the teams to watch out for in 2011?

Here are my top 6 teams to watch in 2011.

No.6 Mercedes GP

Mercedes GP under performed in 2010 with Rosberg and Schumacher finishing 7th and 9th in the Championship respectively and the team failing to win a race. The team claims they have a strong car for 2011 and that they have the right people for the job. Schumacher says he can win a record 8th World Title but he will need a great car if he wants to be challenging the top teams.

FACT FILE

Team Name: Mercedes GP Petronas.

Drivers: Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

2010 Driver’s Finish: Nico Rosberg:7th Michael Schumacher:9th.

2010 Constructor’s finish: 4th, 214 points.

No.5    Lotus Renault GP

The new look Renault team had a very comfortable 2010 after the horrors of the previous season. A new owner and new drivers including the first Russian in F1 worked well and Renault were back competing at the top end of the Championship. 2011 has brought another new livery and possibly the Financial backing they need to push them that little bit further.

FACT FILE

Team Name: Lotus Renault GP

Drivers: Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov

2010 Driver’s Finish: Robert Kubica:8th   Vitaly Petrov:13th

2010 Constructor’s Finish:5th, 163 points.

No.4 Team Lotus

Yet another new team and after a steady first season, many think they are capable of scoring points in 2011. Lotus have kept Trulli and Kovalainen for 2011 and both drivers have competed at the top before and have the experience to bring Lotus in the right direction. Their Off-Season has been marred by a lengthy legal battle over which Lotus team holds the right to being called Team-Lotus.  The  case is still ongoing but Lotus Racing say they are confident that they hold the right to being the real Team Lotus .Lotus have also switched to Renault engines.

FACT FILE

Team Name: Lotus Racing

Drivers: Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen

2010 Driver’s Finish: Jarno Trulli:21st  Heikki Kovalainen:20th

2010 Constructor’s Finish: 10th , 0 points

No.3 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

McLaren had a very topsy turvey season in 2010 but still had Hamilton fighting for the Title in the final race in Abu Dhabi. The all Briton line up of Hamilton and Button worked extremely well and with both drivers knowing their team mates exact car setup, there was no public arguments between the pair. After McLaren’s terrible 2009 car, 2010 was a much better season but they were still soundly beat by Red Bull. McLaaren always have the same level of expectation going into every season but they last won a drivers title in 2008 with Hamilton, and believe it or not, last won a constructors title way back in 1998.

FACT FILE

Team Name: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Drivers: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton

2010 Driver’s Finish: Jenson Button: 5th, Lewis Hamilton: 4th.

2010 Constructor’s Finish: 2nd,  454 points

No.2 Ferrari

Ferrari went into 2010 with great expectations after a very poor 2009. Raikkonen was out and Fernando Alonso was in. Their season started perfectly with Alonso winning on his Debut and Massa coming home in 2nd. Ferrari’s start wasn’t to last though and reliability issues hampered their early season success and they dramatically dropped down both Championship’s dramatically. After Ferrari’s worst result of the season at Silverstone, Alonso claimed that Ferrari would win the title and they very nearly did but there season was marred by a race fixing case due to team orders. 2011 is looking promising for the Tifosi who haven’t seen a Ferrari winner since 2007 with Raikkonen. The two drivers remain and so do Ferrari’s hopes of becoming World Champions.

FACT FILE

Team Name: Scuderia Ferrari

Drivers: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa

2010 Driver’s finish: Fernando Alonso: 2nd, Felipe Massa: 6th.

2010 Constructor’s finish: 3rd, 396 points.

No.1 Red Bull Racing

Red Bull were the stand out team in 2010 and after only being in the sport since 2005, to win both Championships with in 5 years really shows what potential they still have to give. The past 2 seasons were great for Red Bull as they finally showed what they could do and with Adrian Newey designing nearly unbeatable cars, 2011 is looking no different. Vettel sealed 2010 with their first Drivers Championship and even Webber has showed his potential. There were some bad moments for Red Bull including a rift between the 2 drivers and the unforgetable coming together in Turkey and lets not forget Webber’s amazing incident in Valencia. Overall 2010 belonged to Red Bull but hopefully for F1 fans as a whole, they won’t dominate Qualifying too much in 2011 !

FACT FILE

Team Name: Red Bull Racing

Drivers: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber

2010 Driver’s Finish: Sebastian Vettel: 1st, Mark Webber: 3rd.

2010 Constructor’s Finish: 1st, 498 points.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog, and I hope you enjoy 2011 just as much.