Is this the turning point for the 2010 championship? Winners and losers from Montreal.

June 14, 2010

 

Are McLaren now in position to dominate the 2010 championship? Photo: Jenkins, Pasternak & West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winners

McLaren. We are now approaching the halfway point of the season in terms of racing, having completed eight races with eleven more to go. It now looks like Montreal could have been a turning point with McLaren finishing first and second by their own efforts, as opposed to winning by default as they did in Istanbul. I have mentioned before that McLaren’s development pace is the best on the grid. Their F Duct system which uses an air intake mounted above the drivers knee to stall the rear wing and therefore reduce drag when optimum top speed is required is, by admission of most of the grid, still way ahead of the competition, and although Montreal, like Monza, rewards a higher top speed, in Montreal they also demonstrated that their car can handle its tyres as well as the Red Bull, this may be a function of the Montreal track (which is rarely used and therefore has less rubber ingrained in the tarmac), but it suggests that McLaren are now potentially building up the momentum to take control of the championship for the rest of the year.

Vitantonio Liuzzi. Tonio is a bit of an enigma, he has always been well spoken of by experienced members of the press – particularly David Tremayne, who is pretty good at talent spotting. But to date his career at Toro Rosso and Force India has not borne out the promise that is suggested to be there. In Canada his performance was mixed, but he came out a winner by the fact that he out-qualified and out-raced his teammate (Adrian Sutil) for the first time. He did seem to regress into GP2 mode with his succession of bumps with Felipe Massa at the start (which will go down well in his native Italy), but he stuck in there to claw back through the field and finish 9th with his teammate in 10th.

Lotus Racing. Lotus now appears to be moving clear of their fellow new teams: Virgin Racing and HRT. Montreal is a low downforce circuit and the Lotus does appear to have similar strengths to the Force India car in that regard, however, it was notable that Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock was unable to get close to either Lotus during qualifying on a circuit where he has generally excelled. In the race it really looked like the Lotus cars are now pulling up to Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso at the back of the established runners.

Red Bull Racing Pit Crew. It is unfortunate that the TV coverage doesn’t show the actual pitstop time (they show the elapsed time that the car is in the pitlane and therefore the total time of the pitstop relative to the race). The all-time record for a pitstop is 2.9 seconds, and Red Bull Racing came very close to beating this by replacing all Webber’s wheels and tyres in a little over 3 seconds, let’s see if anyone can get under 3 seconds this year.

Losers

Safety Car. Bernd Mayländer, the F1 safety car driver, had a very quite Sunday afternoon, probably enjoying the multiple CD player on his 6.3 Litre SLS Mercedes. Given the potential for accidents and the lack of run-off areas (such as in Bahrain), the potential for deploying the safety car is higher at Montreal than most other circuits – except the street variety. A number of teams, including McLaren, based their tyre strategies on the assumption that an early safety car would allow them to nip into the pits and change away from the option tyre to the more durable prime. Unfortunately for them there was no cause to deploy the safety car throughout the race – although McLaren’s strategy seemed to work out pretty well anyway.

Fernando Alonso. There is no doubt that Fernando was a contender to win this race. However, by his own incredibly high standards he made two fairly basic errors which allowed Lewis Hamilton to re-pass him (after he had overtaken him in the pits) and then Jenson Button, moving him down to third place.

Sauber. So far the 2010 season has turned into a bit of a nightmare for Sauber. Yet again both cars failed to complete the race. Sauber now had 11 retirements from 16 races/per car. Not good for a team that in 2008 were a serious contender for the title.

Michael Schumacher. Although Schumacher’s race, which ended up with him collecting 11th place, was compromised by a novel, but ultimately unsuccessful, strategy of staying out on the softer option tyre far longer than anyone else, he seemed to be colliding with anyone who got remotely close to him. His sparring partners included Kubica, Massa (which won’t have helped his relationship with the tifosi) and Liuzzi from my reckoning, but there could have been more. So will Michael carry on until 2011? My guess is that he probably will, I suspect that ultimately this is not about the potential to win championships, but just to keep racing and this is what Michael enjoys most – so we’ll probably see him competing in Le Mans 24 hour when he’s 56 – he may even last a bit longer than the 18 minutes Nigel Mansell managed this year.

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