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Article:2008 Canadian Grand Prix - Race Analysis

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Sitting on the grandstands at the hairpin exit, I was able to watch a good race in Montreal. At one point, though, I had to ask myself: 'I am really paying almost 400 Canadian dollars for this?' When? Here is a hint: FIA's safety car rules are plain stupid. When half of the field pitted under the safety car, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica had to stop at the pit exit, waiting for the green light that would come after the pack of driver on track went by. Then Lewis Hamilton made a stupid mistake and hit the back of Kimi's Ferrari. Kubica took the opportunity and won the first grand prix of his career, the first of a Polish driver in F1, the first of BMW as a constructor on its own.

The safety car rules shall be changed because they are always affecting the race results in a way they should not. Who in the world wants to see two of the three main contenders of a race retiring inside the pit lane? I guess that FIA's president Max Mosley did not have the time to think about that, though, as he spent the better part of last month using his influences to stay in power, something he somehow managed to do even after being caught in an orgy with prostitutes. It may not be so bad if it is true that Formula One Management's big boss Bernie Ecclestone wants to create a parallel championship without the FIA. More than 10 years of grooved tyres and no overtaking is the biggest achievement in rulemaking in the recent years.

Enough with that and back to the race...


Leading all Young Promises

All in all, the race had a deserving winner. It is true that Kubica's main contenders made it easier for him. Besides Hamilton and Raikkonen, Felipe Massa was excluded from any hopes of winning when Ferrari messed up while refueling his car on the first pit stop, and he had to return to the pits on the next time around. That does not take anything away from the magnificent job by the Pole. Because many drivers did not stop under the safety car, he was in the middle of the field for a while. He knew how to keep his cool, waited for everyone to pit, overtook his teammate Nick Heidfeld - who was returning from the pits heavier on fuel - and later drove 7 or 8 superb qualifying-like laps before his final pit stop. He rejoined the race as the leader, showing qualities that not many 23 year-old drivers have.

Robert Kubica is a member of my list of young drivers who are talented enough to add their names to the history of the sport. He will be around with Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel for a long time to come. And trust me, Nelsinho Piquet will join that group soon. Right now he is just suffering because of the lack of testing in 2007. Oh, and Massa, Raikkonen, Kovalainen are a little older, but they will also be around for a while! Right now, though, one driver is ahead of them all, and that is championship leader Kubica.


An Improved Massa

As impressive as Kubica was, the crowd favourite was Felipe Massa. When Ferrari had to call him back to the pits due to the aforementioned mistake, he returned to the track in anger, 15 seconds behind the last of the other drivers. He drove an aggressive race as no one else did, overtaking many cars in the process. The move of the day was when he passed both Kovalainen and Barrichello at the same time. That was right in front of me at the hairpin and at that time I had no doubts that my money was well spent.

He scored valuable points by finishing 5th. Had he not thrown away 8 points by spinning in Malaysia, he would be the championship leader now. That is Massa, though. He will make a few mistakes, but his good moments will more than compensate for those.


Quick Notes:

- Rubens Barrichello did what he could with the lousy Honda, and held back as many cars as he could while going for a one-stop strategy. He finished 7th.

- Nelsinho Piquet cannot be blamed for his spin this time. His brakes simply became black dust. After the spin, he was breaking earlier and earlier every lap before the hairpin, until he was so slow that he had to stop. The fact that Alonso also spun out during the race counts in Nelsinho's favour, showing that the Renault may be faster, but still has a 'nervous' behavior.

- After starting from the pits, Sebastian Vettel held back Heikki Kovalainen in the late laps and scored 1 point by finishing 8th. He is taking everything that he can from driving a bad car. This kind of experience will help him a lot when he eventually gets a job at a top team.

- As I expected, Lewis Hamilton was actually lighter in qualifying. Maybe not as light as I thought - I even wondered if he would be 3-stopping - but he had less fuel than both Kubica and Raikkonen. Therefore, he needed more time to refuel when the safety car put everyone who pitted on the same strategy. When both the BMW and the Ferrari overtook him, he lost his concentration and threw his race - and Kimi's - away. It is a good thing that he was penalized with 10 grid positions for the next race, because his mistake was completely avoidable. As usual, he at least admitted his fault.


Star of the Race

Robert Kubica


Shame of the Race

Ferrari, for throwing Massa's race away due to a faulty refueling operation.


--Andre N.

This is originally from my blog: Formula One Monday. Feel free to edit it here, especially if you find typos!


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