Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hamilton takes pole with skill and luck

A thrilling qualifying session in Montreal seen Lewis Hamilton break the Red Bull strangehold and take pole position. His last gasp effort beat off the team who had taken all the previous poles this year as well as Fernando Alonso. However the Briton was told to stop on his in lap as he was running out of fuel and needed a litre left in the car so the stewards would have enough for a sample. Since Malaysia 2008 where Hamilton was 1 of a numer of cars to drive extremely slowly back to the pits to conserve fuel, there is a time laid down in the Friday briefing which the drivers must be within so nobody impedes other drivers or back in the days of carrying race fuel saved more fuel than their competitors. Drivers have been slower than this time in the past but got away with a reprimand and that is what Hamilton got along with a $10,000 fine. A lot of people in the paddock are frustrated with this because Hamilton effectively gained an advanatge by setting a lap on less fuel than other cars, hence being able to go quicker. I'm pretty sure this was not planned by McLaren. Hamilton did one flying lap on the soft tyres in his first run and seem set to do the same in run 2 but didn't improve. He crossed the line with seconds to spare
and continued on to do the lap which leaves him at the front for the start tomorrow.

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They key thing tomorrow is the tyres. We have the exciting prospect of splits in the tyre choices at the front with the potential for multiple stop strategies. Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will head to turn 1 on the harder compound tyres along with Robert Kubica in 8th. They could run for over half the race while the rest of the top ten may hit trouble inside the first ten laps. However the trio will have to face the soft tyre at some stage unless rain intervenes, which seems unlikely at the preesent time. Unless the track really ramps up a 2 stopper seems likely for the majority of the field. Somebody who trys to hang on with worn tyres will likely be a sitting duck out of the hairpin onto the back straight. Safety car deployments could dictate the timing of stops as even if pitting is not in the ideal window, retaining track position will be more important. Red Bull really should get it early on but then they need the gap to make it work and hang on at the end on the soft tyre. They need as short a stint as possible on those. A Saftey car could also mean the Red Bull's having to stack in the pits so Vettel will want to get ahead though without the consequences of Turkey.

I posted earlier in the week about Vitantonio Liuzzi's need to get a good result this weekend and he is well on his way after a brilliant 6th for Force India who again showed their liking for the low downforce tracks. The Italian had a new chassis and the post qualifying press release certainly showed the teams pleasure at Liuzzi finding the speed to get a career best Saturday result. Team mate Adrian Sutil was 9th. His fellow countrymen at Mercedes at an awful Saturday. Nico Rosberg was only tenth after little running in the morning with a clutch issue while Michael Schumacher was a dismal 13th. The 7 time world champion blamed a lack of grip for his surprising Q2 exit. Kamui Kobayashi was the main Q1 casualty, way off making it through and only beating Heikki Kovalainen by 2 tenths as the Finn again excelled in the Lotus.

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So the rain threat may be low but the Canadian Grand Prix doesn't need rain to provide a good show. Lewis Hmailton on pole, 2 Red Bull's behind who have no qualms about racing each other, Fernando Alonso looking to make the podium and Jenson Button who has alway proved this season to be the calm man amongst F1's most stormy races. It's going to be unpredictable, we could have pitstops on lap 1, people hanging on at the end and perhaps going into the now famous fuel saving mode and if a 3rd Mercedes appears? Well that'll just bunch them all up again. Lovely

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