Halftime Sports

The Montreal Grand Prix!

June 12, 2014


Quelle course et un Grand Prix fantastique! Even for casual viewers, the 70-lap Montreal Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was quite a spectacle. For the first half or so of the race, Montreal looked to be another cut-and-dry Mercedes one-two finish. But, as Eric Cantor is well aware, nothing ever goes according to plan. The race opened with Marussia driver Max Chilton gloriously smashing into his teammate Jules Bianchi. There were large crashes to follow, surprise malfunctions, not to mention some plain great driving, which shook up the emergent trends from this season.

It’s clear Infiniti Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo’s move from Toro Rosso to Infiniti Red Bull has paid off. After teasing us with a (later disqualified) win at the season opener Australian GP, Ricciardo finally landed his inaugural first place, beating out his teammate and four-time consecutive world champion Sebastian Vettel. Ricciardo was playing it fast and loose with his tire strategy in his bid to catch Force India’s Sergio Perez for second and later Mercedes AMG Petronas’s Nico Rosberg for first (Vettel’s race engineer said he was “destroying”). Even so, he managed to turn the Lap 51 battle for first into an elegant DRS boost past race leader Nico Rosberg in Lap 69. Ricciado’s gigawatt smile after his win was enough to make anyone’s day (even you, Kimi).

Vettel, on the other hand, has been struggling with reliability issues throughout the season, so this one-three finish must be validation for Christian Horner and Red Bull. After absolutely dominating F1 since 2010, Infiniti Red Bull hasn’t had the speed that the works Mercedes teams have been exhibiting this season. A Renault-engined car hadn’t beat the dominating Mercedes engines until Montreal. Even so, Vettel almost didn’t finish: in the final laps, he had been battling for third with Perez, and narrowly avoided the spectacular Perez-Massa crash. “I was quite lucky–and saw him just in time,” he is quoted as saying in “India Times.” Here’s a video of the crash, in case you were to busy tweeting about Ricciardo’s pass to see it:

[youtube id=”2f8YrWb7i_Q” width=”600″ height=”350″]

But, not to fear, Silver Arrow fans: Nico Rosberg is still in first for the season points, despite his second-place finish this weekend. Unlike his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who retired in lap 48 after a smoky brake failure, Rosberg skated through through the Mercedes brake weakness, albeit after losing the 25-second lead he’d had on Perez, Ricciardo, Massa, and Hamilton. Rosberg also skated through the final chicane before L’Epingle hairpin, cutting the corner and going off the track and even managed to avoid penalization from the race stewards. It was certainly a controversial ruling, as Rosberg gained almost a second lead over Hamilton, while clearly violating Article 16.1 f) and clause 20.2 of the Sporting Regulations that prevent “illegitimizing” an overtake and leaving the track, respectively, according to Sky Sports. Rosber walked away with nothing but a final warning, proving once again that your name in Formula 1 is made and broken by politics.

Speaking of politics, hot on the heels of Red Bull’s first win of the season comes news that Red Bull design god Adrian Newey, despite a £20 million offer from Ferrari, will be staying at Red Bull for the next several seasons and away from Ferrari theatrics. Let’s face it: Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, with his penchant for smashing televisions after Ferrari losses, is a quintessential cog in the F1 political machine. But then, Newey created a media scuffle of his own. According to an article in “The Guardian,” Newey might be backing away from F1 in favor of a more diverse project portfolio. “The Guardian,” in a different article, also quoted Newey as saying, ““I just feel, to be perfectly honest, the current regulations are very restrictive, which is a shame. It’s difficult to find new areas to explore as they are so tight, more engine orientated. They need more of a fundamental rethink in my opinion.” Throwin’ some shaaaaaade.

Perhaps Newey’s just mad that, just a year earlier, Vettel dominated the Montreal GP with a 32.6 second lead… with possible help from the rumored and legally ambiguous  KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System for the plebes)-connected traction control system. Perhaps the 2014 focus on fuel limiting and V6s made the ECU-bypass traction control impossible… or just straight-up illegal.

We obviously can’t forget the crashers supreme, Max Chilton and Sergio Perez, who have received grid penalties from the race stewards for their extremely dangerous (great televison-making) crashes. Chilton gets a three-place grid penalty and Perez gets a five-place penalty at the Austrian Grand Prix on June 22. Rough.

Let’s be honest, though: the real question everyone’s asking is, “Kimi, what was happening with that spinout?”

Photo: CaterhamF1, Dell Inc, and Andrew Smith via Flickr

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