*** THE PITSTOP PRINCESS HAS A SORE BACK. AFTER A SUCCESSFUL TEST IN MONACO, MONEYBALL WILL TAKE HER SEAT UNTIL SHE RECOVERS, WHICH SHOULD BE IN BAKU. PROVIDED SHE DOESN’T DRIVE FLAT-OUT INTO A WALL ANYTIME SOON… ***
Montreal is glorious. The people, the culture, the weather, the venue and – dare I say it – the races. It’s a consistently enjoyable weekend for all of the drivers, teams and spectators. Still, not everyone loves it. This weekend was exactly the ‘perfect storm’ that Ross Brawn is attempting to manage out – an F1 race being staged at the same time as not one, but all of the Catalunya MotoGP, the BTCC at Croft and formula-e in Berlin (although who watches that?)…
…and it was a cruise for the Mercedes boys – just the sort of domination that we’ve not seen from them in 2017. Respect due to Hamilton, from his pole lap (reaction to which was universally "where did you get that time from??") to his man-management of Mad Max (until the sad demise of his Tag Heuer) to his race-craft (nice to see him call Vettel’s two-stop strategy way ahead of Bono). Like Ronaldo, his numbers don’t lie.
Still, it wasn’t the most exciting victory and no-one hit the Wall of Champions. Any actual race highlights?
· Sainz and Perez reduced their stock due to being a bit too bullish or stubborn (there’s no “I” in team, but there is an “AIIIIIIII!!” in Sainz)
· Max and Ocon raised theirs due to frankly supernatural ability (that start, Max! Wow) and genuine speed (how did Ocon hold off Bottas on those worn tyres?)
· There was plenty of opportunity to don tinfoil hats for the Ferrari swap (where did I leave the remote control for Kimi’s brakes? behind the couch?)
· Alonso got very close to just having a mediocre weekend but, despite his Honda engine snatching his well-earned points from him two laps from the end, somehow managed to put in the 4th fastest lap of the race and promptly vanished into the crowd to celebrate. He really is demob happy…
· “Anything you can do, I can do better” – Vettel trumped Hamilton’s Monaco recovery by rising from 18th up to 4th – some very brave driving, particularly taking the dirty line into turn 1 to get past Ocon. Can’t wait to see Hamilton and Vettel duking it out side by side – it’ll end in tears for someone…
· Good battles in the midfield (I loved K-Mag causing the Hulk to slam on the brakes with a bit of a shove into turn 1 and Nico biding his time… …before returning the favour about 15 laps later) and very good defensive driving from Ricciardo
· And Lance Stroll got points on home soil. (Yes, that Lance Stroll. Yes, seriously. Yes, I’ve seen how manically he see-saws at the wheel. Yes, it is like he’s playing Outrun. Ok, that is an old reference – Mario Kart then, for the youngsters. Yes, his overtake moves give me THE FEAR. He did make up 8 places though. At that rate, Massa would have won the race if he hadn’t been punted off on lap 1…)
Quote of the day went to DC with a scathing putdown of Kimi trying to adjust his settings:
"If you can count up to 15 or 16m euros in your paycheque, you can count up to 42 on your dash"
Bravest feat (feet?) of the day: Sir Patrick Stewart doing the schuey. Ooft.
And so, on to Baku. Apparently Mercedes worked 24/7 for ten days to understand and eliminate the set-up and race management issues that have plagued them so far this season – and that’s why they won Canada. Nothing to do with Hamilton’s utter domination at Montreal. Or that it suits the Mercedes engine and long wheelbase to a tee. Oh no. So, expect Mercedes to dominate every track from now on then. Can anyone spell hubris? (T May…?)
p.s. What’s that? Who actually won the Race of Champions 2017, I hear you ask? None other than Juan Pablo Montoya – at his first appearance in the ROC, no less. A Virgin victory – something we never heard in F1. But I’m presuming you know this, after watching the highlights on All4… Until next time!