Canadian GP – 5 and 6 red don’t come up at the Montreal Casino. The Scuderia duped in chaotich race
Only eight points in the bank for Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix, thanks to a sixth place for Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso had to retire on lap 37, after a collision with Button, who would go on to win the race. This therefore put an end to a run of points finishes for the Spaniard which dates back to last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. After seven races, Fernando and Felipe are fifth and sixth respectively in the Drivers’ classification, while the Scuderia is still third in the one for Constructors.
Stefano Domenicali: “Regret is the feeling affecting all of us at the end of a chaotic Canadian Grand Prix. Today we had the potential to fight for the win, but everything that could go wrong did go wrong. In the end, Felipe’s sixth place is definitely a result that is hard to swallow given how the race ended. Two incidents in particular – the collision between Fernando and Button and the passing move on Karthikeyan that caused Felipe to go of the track – leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Now we must put this Sunday behind us, while retaining the fact that our performance level was a match for the situation, just as we had seen two weeks ago in Monaco. We must do it again starting in Valencia and then improve for those races – I’m thinking above all of Silverstone – where aerodynamic efficiency will count for more and maybe the new interpretation of the regulations concerning the exhausts could change the pecking order in the field.”
Felipe Massa: “I can’t draw much satisfaction from this sixth place, given the potential we had here. My chances of finishing on the podium and also of fighting for the win given how things went, just evaporated when I was passing Karthikeyan. He was going very slowly on the dry line but then, as I was passing him on the wet, he accelerated and I lost control of the car ending up in the wall. Thanks to the next Safety Car, I was able to catch up to the pack and then, in the end, I passed a few cars to get as high as sixth. I am angry, there is no point denying it. We qualified well and we were in the top three up until the red flag. Then what happened happened and it was all over. I am pleased with how the car performed, both on the extreme wets and on the slicks, but with the intermediates, I was struggling a bit. Now we go to Valencia, a track where we can be competitive, given its characteristics are fairly similar to here. We will have the medium tyres, that we tested here on Friday: we will see what sort of grip levels they give us.”
Fernando Alonso: “Everything went wrong, right from this morning when we saw it was raining. We had our best qualifying of the year and we found ourselves starting behind the safety car, when I felt that for me, the intermediates were the best tyre. When we fitted them, the downpour came, along with the red flag which meant those who had not changed tyres could now do it practically for nothing. Finally there was the coming together with Button, which as a final insult left my car beached on a kerb and I was unable to get going again. It’s a real shame because today we really had a good race pace but we were unlucky: that’s not a feeling I have, it’s a fact. When you don’t score points then you must immediately turn the page and look to the next race. I think that in Valencia we can do well, because it is another circuit which should suit our car well, as was also the case here. The championship is not finished yet, but we must now hope for errors from others to have some hope. Our performance level here was good, especially because of the characteristics of the circuit, but also thanks to the updates we brought here. We must keep our heads up, have confidence in our ability and work hard.”
Pat Fry: “You could say that was a pretty chaotic race, from which we did not come away with what was within our capabilities. Events definitely did not do us any favours, starting with the weather: today, also given what we had seen in qualifying, we could have fought for the win even in dry conditions In the first part of the race, the drivers were getting a different feel from their cars: for Fernando the intermediates were quicker and that is what led to the decision to bring him in to fit them. Then it began raining harder and the red flag followed. It was a lottery and our numbers did not come up, that’s for sure. Now we must look ahead and put this race behind us as quickly as possible, without letting it get us down. The team worked well in what were very difficult conditions. From a performance point of view, this weekend we saw that the gap to the quickest seems to have been reduced. Unfortunately, we did not reap the benefits of that on today’s results sheet. We must look ahead and try to continue down this route of improving the car: sooner or later the results will come.”
Weather: air 19 °C, track 20 °C; overcast, showers at times. Chassis: Alonso 290, Massa 289
Canadian GP – A real chance of a win washed away in the rain
Montreal, 12 June – It’s fair to say that victory was a distinct possibility for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro in today’s Canadian Grand Prix but rotten luck put an end first to Fernando Alonso’s hopes, the Spaniard having to retire on lap 37 of the chaotic rain affected event and then to Felipe Massa’s chances as he spun after being obstructed by a back marker. The Brazilian continued to come home sixth. In a season that has delivered so much excitement, there was plenty more today and although it was a result to forget for the Scuderia, the race will be remembered as a classic and a very long one, given that it eventually lasted just over four hours because of a two hour break caused by torrential rain and a flooded track.
Jenson Button secured victory on the very last lap in his McLaren, after pressuring race long leader Sebastian Vettel into a mistake. The championship leader recovered to finish second ahead of his Red Bull team-mate, Mark Webber.
Because of the poor conditions, the race started behind the Safety Car, which released the cars after four laps. Fernando immediately tried to pass pole man Vettel but could not, while fourth placed Webber was hit by Hamilton and dropped down the order. The top three were in grid order and behind Felipe came Rosberg, Schumacher – up from eighth to fifth – Hamilton, Button, Di Resta, Heidfeld with Kobayashi tenth, although the Sauber man moved up to eighth on lap 6. One lap later, Hamilton crashed into his team-mate and had to park his McLaren at the side of the track, which brought out the Safety Car once again.
On lap 10 the rain intensified and the Safety Car was in again at the end of lap 12. On lap 17, Alonso and Rosberg pitted to change tyres, which promoted Felipe to second behind Vettel and Fernando was up to fifth by lap 18. However, on lap 20 the rain got heavier again and so the SC made a third appearance and because of the track conditions, Fernando had to come in again for extreme rain tyres. Vettel also changed tyres on this lap putting Felipe into the lead for one lap until he stopped for fresh tyres, while Fernando was now back down in eighth.
Lap 24 saw the rain become a deluge and Race Control decided to red flag the race, so that all the cars were called back to the grid to await developments, with one hour and 45 minutes of racing still available before the two hour limit would be reached. With daylight lasting till late in the Canadian summer, there were none of the concerns that we had seen in Malaysia in 2009 for example, when rain stopped the race and it could not be restarted because it was dark. So, at 15.50 the cars finally left the grid again, all on mandatory extreme rain tyres behind the Safety Car. Felipe really tried to get past second placed Kobayashi but was unable to pass.
Alonso’s run of points finishes was about to come to an end when Button collided with the Ferrari’s right rear wheel and the Spaniard’s 150º Italia spun and got stuck on the kerb, while Button had to pit with a puncture. It was time for a fourth Safety Car period which lasted to lap 41, when Vettel pulled out a lead from Kobayashi and Felipe and as the track dried, the DRS which had been forbidden in the wet was now enabled for use by the race director. With 20 laps remaining, Vettel led the Sauber driver by over six seconds and Felipe was right on the tail of the Japanese driver and behind the Brazilian was his former team-mate, Schumacher. Then, on lap 51 as Felipe again tried to pass Kobayashi, Schumacher got the better of both of them to go second, chasing Vettel.
At this point, Felipe’s race was about to be compromised, as he came up to lap a backmarker, Karthikeyan, who suddenly accelerated in the Hispania, leaving Felipe nowhere to go on the wet line and the Brazilian spun. Eventually, he caught up with the pack thanks to yet another safety car and eventually came home sixth – far from what had been within his grasp.
When the race resumed, with only nine laps left, Vettel was being chased by Schumacher, Webber, Button and Kobayashi. The Australian Red Bull driver passed the German in the Mercedes, but he had to cede the position, having cut the chicane and one lap later, as he made the same error, Button went by into second place. The McLaren man then put Vettel under enormous pressure, which paid off when the German lost control of his car, ran wide leaving Button to score his first win of the year.
Behind the podium trio the rest of the points went to Schumacher in fourth, followed by Petrov, Felipe, Kobayashi, Alguersuari, Barrichello and Buemi tenth.
The bitterness did not fade overnight.Domenicali: “The wheel will turn sooner or later”
Montreal, 13 June –From those who are still in Montreal, to those in the factory, not forgetting the ones who spent the night flying home across the Atlantic, one night is definitely not enough for the bitterness to fade for the men and women of the Scuderia after a Canadian Grand Prix that was as chaotic as it was unlucky. Looking back in the cold light of day at all the incidents that made up this incredibly long Sunday on the Ile Notre Dame, there is still much to regret about what might have been.
Let’s analyse what actually happened point by point over the course of the day. A few days before, it was already clear that Sunday would be the worst in terms of the weather and that turned out to be the case. Unfortunately, this year’s first wet race came just when it was of the least use to the Scuderia, that had not only got both the 150° Italias on the front two rows as a result of the best qualifying since the start of the season, but the car had also shown itself to be competitive enough to raise hopes of being able to fight for the win. Unfortunately, never before has the reality turned out to be so different to the prediction. You only had to see how many messages appeared on the monitors during the two hour plus break in the race: one moment it predicted the rain would die down and then five minutes later there was another downpour. Or the information would be that there was a threat of another storm which in fact miraculously never came or changed direction. This is not a criticism of Meteo France, as it would be all too easy to lay the blame at their door, as the word is “forecast” not “fact” when it comes to the weather. That must be taken into account when carefully analysing the whys and wherefores of certain decisions taken by those on the pit wall, especially in the first part of the race. Right from when they went out onto the grid, our two drivers had different views as to what tyres to use: Felipe felt more comfortable on the extreme wets, while Fernando believed he could do better on the intermediates. Then came the FIA decision to start the race behind the Safety Car, which settled matters once and for all, as only extreme wets can be used in this situation. The performance difference could be seen immediately in the opening laps after the Safety Car had pitted, with Vettel beginning to pull away, Fernando struggling a bit, while Felipe was comfortably keeping up with them while a gap grew behind this trio. It was the same situation at the second restart, when it was already looking as though the intermediates were a better choice: Button, who had immediately gone for this choice, given he had to pit after colliding with his team-mate, was very quick, to the extent that on his one lap with a free track ahead of him he was over a second quicker than Vettel and two faster than Fernando. What did Meteo France predict at this point? Rain, but not too heavy and not for too long. So, some of the drivers in the leading group – Fernando and the two Mercedes – chose to pit to change tyres. The Spaniard was immediately very quick, overtaking the two Renaults and rapidly closing on Webber. Unfortunately, not only did the rain come quickly, but it was a complete downpour, so that those on the intermediates and even the ones on extremes, like Felipe, had to pit for another tyre change. Those who stayed out on track then got an unexpected gift in the form of the red flag. The race was stopped which effectively meant being able to do a pit stop without the penalty of time lost in pit lane.
After the long stop, the race resumed, again behind the Safety Car: the slate had been wiped clean and we were still in with a chance. Shortly after the race was on again, the switch was made to intermediates and the two Ferrari men stopped one after the other. Fernando rejoined ahead of Button, who tried to attack: the two cars collided, the Englishman’s left front wheel hitting the Ferrari’s right rear, a situation which is self explanatory in terms of which car was ahead at the time. The Spaniard was pushed into a spin, ending up beached on the kerb and was unable to get going again. That called for another Safety Car which in fact smoothed the way for the eventual race winner: Button, who still had to pit did not lose too much time in real terms because of the collision he caused (even if the Stewards decided afterwards that it was a racing incident.)
So, we have reached the point where the first Ferrari was out of the race. Knocking the second oneout of the fight for the top places was the work of a backmarker, Karthikeyan, who moving slowly on the dry line, deciding to accelerate just as Felipe, who had just fitted the Supersoft slicks, moved alongside preparing to overtake him. This resulted in the Brazilian, who had driven a great race up to this point, losing control of his car and brushing the barrier. He had to pit for a new nose, after which Felipe staged a strong fight back which ended with him just squeezing ahead of Kobayashi within sight of the finish line to take sixth place. A handful of seconds earlier, Button, who had pitted no less than six times, had crossed the line to win.
“When I think that yesterday we could have taken our first win of the season, then I still feel a sense of anger,” said Stefano Domenicali to www.ferrari.com, when back in his Maranello office. “We were very well prepared for this race and everything evaporated through an incredible run of adverse circumstances. If one looks at everything that happened in the race, I can manage a wry smile: the winner, whom I must congratulate, because one should never lose respect for one’s rivals, actually set a record for pit stops and was always behind our cars while they were actually running on track. Further proof of how difficult it is from the outside to read a race, he made similar strategic choices to the ones for which we are being criticised in what I consider an excessive manner. It’s true that the final result can affect people’s judgment. That’s a rule of sport and we have to accept it, but that does not necessarily mean we have to agree with it.”
The disappointment on Monday morning must not cancel out all the good elements of this weekend for Ferrari. “When you have days like this you want to turn the page immediately, forgetting the negatives and hanging on to the positive aspects. Partly down to the characteristics of the track and also because of all the work we are doing, we are beginning to see the benefits of our efforts, as was the case in Monaco and also in Montreal where we were competitive enough to fight for the win. We must continue down this path, because sooner or later the results will come. Now there is no point looking at the classifications in both championships, as it does not make sense at the moment. We must act like football teams who find they have dropped behind and play every match in an attacking manner, only going for the win. Then, if the others slip up and the situation changes, we will see where we are.”