June 07, 2015

F1 Update: Canada 2015

A beautiful sunny day greeted the assembled masses at Ile Notre-Dame, masses gathered to see the F1 Circus make their way around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve 70 times in pursuit of victory.  Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was on pole with his teammate Nico Rosberg next to him, but a resurgent Ferrari driven by Kimi Raikkonen lurked just a spot behind.   Which of them got to spray the Molsons?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2015 Grand Prix of Canada!

*OH.  RIGHT.  FORGOT.:  The lights went out, the Thundering Herd made its way to the first turn, and there went the two Silver Arrows.  Hamilton and Rosberg began to run away from the rest of the field, with Hamilton staying a scant second or so ahead of his teammate.  And that's how it stayed for the entire first half of the race: Rosberg close but no cigar on Hamilton, while the rest of the field fell farther and farther behind.

*MEANWHILE...:  Due to power unit problems and penalties, Ferrari's Seb Vettel took his place on the starting grid somewhere back around the Hairpin.  Within seven laps of the start, he had worked his way up the field to 13th place, where he found his progress balked by a fight between Sony Ericsson and Felipe Not Nasr Massa.  Judging there'd be no real harm, the team brought him in for a early pit stop.  This would get him free of the fight, and off the pit rotation as well, perhaps allowing him to jump multiple places without struggle.  Unfortunately, the team had problems with his jacks and by the time he made it back onto the track, Vettel was in last place.  Again.  Even Embryo Verstappen, who had to start in Newfoundland, was ahead of him.

*BACK AT THE FRONT...
:  After the first pit stops, Rosberg discovered that his car was dealing with the race a smidge better than Hamilton.  The leader was forced to save fuel, lifting and coasting into turns instead of accelerating all the way in.  For his own part, Rosberg was being warned about his brakes.  This is a common problem at Canada... the track is very fast, but with very heavy use of the clampers.  For example, you've got the full-throttle dive to the hairpin where you hit 180mph or more, but then have to slow to sixty or less, then another full-throttle run to the final chicane, where you have to slow right back down again.  That's bad enough, but what occurs is that the upper layers of the carbon brakes actually melt from the heat, then the cooling airflow solidifies it again.  This process is called "glazing," and it reduces the efficiency of the brakes... which means you have to stomp even harder on the brakes, which means they heat up even more, which causes more glazing, which means you need to stomp on the brakes even harder... and so on.  This circuit is the only place we've seen brake discs actually shatter in an explosive way.  Despite all this, Rosberg was able to close up to right around one second behind Hamilton.

*MEANWHILE PTII...:  Vettel was having none of these problems, at least not that we were being made aware of.  Instead, he was working his way back up the field, picking off drivers one after the other.  The only problem he had came from Nico Hulkenberg in seventh, who refused to go down without a fight... and going side-by-side through the final chicane put paid to that, the Force India driver losing control and spinning.  Vettel would eventually finish fifth, a remarkable drive reminiscent of Jenson Button's last-to-first (with six pit stops!) in 2011.

*NO SURPRISES:  Despite getting close, Rosberg couldn't quite bring his Mercedes into attack position on his teammate.  Suddenly there were only five or six laps left, Hamilton was told he was good on fuel, and he began to open the lead up again.  When they finally swept across the finish line, only some 95 minutes after the race started, the reigning world champion was 2.5 seconds ahead of Rosberg.  It took nearly 45 seconds for the third place car, the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, to cross the line.  He was followed a couple seconds later by Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

*WILDLIFE:  It isn't Canada without the threat of another Montreal Marmot Massacre.

It was a lot closer than it looks.  Felipe Not Nasr Massa almost wound up with a marmot hood ornament.

*TERROR:  Lewis Hamilton was 47 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas in third.  FORTY-SEVEN SECONDS.  It's going to take disaster upon disaster to keep him from dominating the rest of the season.

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

"I never felt under pressure out there." - Lewis Hamilton (note: real quote)

"I'll give you 'no pressure', you..." - Nico Rosberg

"We earned this podium.  Even if it's like we were in a different race." - Valterri Bottas

"mrmrmrbmrl rmmrrlrbrbrlr rmrmrrblrbrlllr mrmrmmrmmrmrrrmrmrbbl." - Kimi Raikkonen

"I lost time at the first pit-stop and I am not sure it was totally on me, something went wrong at the back of the car, but the guys have done a super job so far and they shouldn't be blamed if sometimes things go a bit slower." - Seb Vettel (note: real quote.  Translated: I'm throwing the pit crew under the bus.)

The next race is in two weeks at the Red Bull Ring in Austria!  See ya then.

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