June 15, 2010

Hamilton rules Canada but should Mclaren have been disqualified?

Without a doubt, the best car and best driver won in Montreal. Hamilton was faultless and, for once, on top of his tire consumption the key strategic issue of the race.

On Saturday, Red Bull gambled that conceding pole on Saturday in exchange for starting on the preferred hard compound when heavy on fuel would pay off in the race. As it turned out, Webber would have gotten pole on those prime tires save for a last second heroic lap by Lewis Hamilton which put him a colossal 2/10th ahead.

Talent aside, where did that 2/10th come from? Mclaren deliberately sent Hamilton out with a car that did not have enough fuel to make it back to the pits with the mandated one liter of fuel required to pass technical inspection. This is why they asked Lewis to shut the engine down on his in lap and strand the car.

Comically, Mclaren'ss party line was that the lack of fuel was a "misunderstanding" but obviously Woking employs a team of sporting regulation lawyers in full time radio contact because, in the 1:15 sec it took Hamilton to do his lap, they had already figured out there was no stated "rule" for the car to return to the pits under it's own power and that they would only incur a fine for not making it back in the required 1:30 seconds as stated by an FIA "memo". This is precisely what happened. After the race Martin Whitmarsh warned other teams should not try this in the future as the FIA is sure to crack down on running cars effectively under weight and stranding them by the side of the track... Some calculated Mclaren saved 2.3kg of fuel with this trick and that 2.3 kg in Montreal equals, you guessed it, 2/10th.

Regardless of the controversy, Hamilton deserved the win with a Mclaren ideally suited to the track with no fast corners, long straights, hard braking and requiring mechanical grip coming out of the chicanes. Button played it cool and towards the end he might have pressured Hamilton save for the usual "it's not team orders" call from the pits. Mclaren also benefitted from the old "unsafe release" rule having fallen out of favor and the stewards allowing side by side racing in pit lane again.

Montreal is also a good track for the downforce challenged Ferrari and Alonso put up a good fight. It might have been his race but for run ins with traffic. Buemi, the team should have told him was due to come in. The Lotus blocking his in lap was a big one which allowed Hamilton to come out of the second pit stop round ahead. Finally, Alonso made that inexplicable move to the dirty side of the track after misjudging Chandock's lack of speed and allowing Button to cruise by for second. Third is a good result after the Turkish disaster but there are once again many regrets.

Red Bull were the big losers and once more, it was mechanical reliability which clipped their wings. Webber had to give up the front row because of a gearbox change and Vettel first could not capitalize on their tire choice at the start and later had to nurse the car home to fourth. The team's tire strategy for Webber, I'll be frank, seemed more designed to make sure he finished behind Vettel than anything else.

All and all, a great race to watch with three world champions on the podium. Very cool. Bon retour au Quebec!

end of post


  1. One thing that got me, controversies aside, is that it was a great race to watch. Passing, dicing, will they wont they tyre strategies, even a bit of good old fashioned rubbin's racin'.

    It's great to see 3 teams properly at the sharp end, with a few who aren't too far behind.

    F1 has me hooked again. Thanks Canada!

    Oh and old Michael - we know you're aggressive, but some of that driving could best be described as "dickish".

  2. Absolutely, and on a track that is "all wrong" by what we are told... funny no? There is much I left out for space reasons I figured would be taken up in the comments: Schumacher, Force India's perfomance, Kubica. Petrov's retard start, Massa's wars... Even Bernie's hilarious contention that F1 is just too fast to be filmed in HD! Discuss, discuss :)

  3. Thats a great video review. Thanks for that!

  4. Another footnote, Hamilton complained that with the new points system, him being only up only three points after winning two races in a row is "ridiculous". With the old system he would have been only one point ahead of Button.

    Well, nobody said you have to be able to add to drive fast... :)

  5. 1. In no possible way the car could/would be underweight, since the car has to be on the min. weight dry, without fuel.

    2. We don't know if he had enough in the tank to make it back or if he would have run dry. All we know that there was enough for the sample (1l), which is required by the rules. Maybe there was enough left to make it safely back, but as a precaution they decided to kill the engine. YOu do know that there are only fuel flow senosrs, no measurements can be taken in the tank itself. ;)

    3. IMHO it was at most 1kg of fuel he had less(if at all) than the others, except if your opinion is that the last straight eats up 2,5 kg of fuel.

  6. Thanks for pointing out the "three world champions on the podium" - I hadn't thought of that.


  7. Thanks for pointing out the fact that Mclaren has released Hamilton into the side of another car in the pits twice so far this season without penalty. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here. Meanwhile the cars that follow the rules lose places because of it (i.e. three places in one stop for Massa in Australia).

  8. The race was great to see in person! I sat down at the inside of the hair pin, and the racing was great! Tons of passing, exciting moments all of the time and for the first 20 laps it was really anyones race with only 10 seconds or so between the top 5 cars.

    The tire deal was crazy, it was reverse of what I thought was going to happen. I figured the hards were going to take off after the soft guys pitted and get a good gap while there hards were still not up to temp, but it never happed. Pretty much everyone who started on hards, had a poor race and lost positions and time in the middle sector of the race were they were on the softs for to long.

    Id have to say that the drive of the race goes to Button. Starting P4 and being a good .4 seconds off per lap compared to Lewis, I was surprised he was able to pull off P2 just a few seconds behind Lewis.

  9. I don't know why they keep releasing Hamilton in the pits like that. It's dangerous and totally unnecessary as he seems to be able to overtake anyone on the track. I agree the qualy move was a bit cheeky but there's only one guy who should have been disqualified from the race and he's german, has always been a cheat and looks pretty average these days. Maybe he always was...?

  10. @Bono. I have way too much respect for Mclaren not to think they knew EXACTLY what they were doing...

    @Anon... Grandpa Schumi had a real "Kids get off my lawn" race, didn't he? :)


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