Friday, 22 June 2012

Lewis' turn in Canada...

Incredibly, in Canada, we saw a seventh different winner, in the shape of Lewis Hamilton. Everybody will begin to believe that they could witness twenty different winners by the close of the season. Hamilton’s win was easily the classiest win so far. McLaren must be credited with having fantastic vision, in a season where the unpredictability of the Pirelli tyres has caught everybody out.   

In the closing stages of the Grand Prix, McLaren were monitoring Hamilton's pace, watching closely for the signs that his tyres were reaching the cliff, before falling in to relative uselessness, and for the moment when Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, in second and third positions respectively, would start reeling him in. With twenty laps remaining, McLaren called Lewis in to the pits, for a stop that many saw as too late; people had assumed that all of the front runners would simply press on to the end and hope for the best. It turned out to be an inspired decision, as Lewis' pace, with the fresh tyres, was almost four seconds a lap faster than both Alonso and Sebastian.

Hamilton caught up very quickly and retook, Vettel in second place and then Alonso who had moved in to first. Red Bull showed similarly good vision, recognising what Ferrari failed to see. They pitted Vettel, dropping him back down the order. However, with the fresher tyres, Sebastian was able to make some of those places back and he eventually finished fourth; signifcantly, ahead of Alonso. Ferrari had to helplessly watch Alonso fall in to the clutches of Grosjean, Perez and finally Vettel, and then come under pressure from Nico Rosberg. Mercifully for Ferrari, Alonso did manage to finish fifth and still grab some precious points.

Once again, controversy surrounds DRS and Pirelli tyres. A seventh different winner, in seven races, whilst making for an unbelievably exciting season for the neutral fan, supports the argument that the unpredictable nature of the Pirelli tyre and the relative ease of passing provided by DRS, is rendering any difference between teams, regarding quality and pace, redundant. It could be argued that, it doesn't matter if you have produced a slow racecar, as long as you get luck with the tyres and get close enough at the DRS activation zone.

I disagree with all of the above paragraph. Despite the fact that the results this season have been slightly erratic, I think that the Canadian Grand Prix has shown strong evidence to support the argument that the performance of the Pirelli tyre can be predicted. It takes work and it takes risks and gambles, but it can be done. As for DRS, I hold to what I have said before. When passing, DRS is never a sure thing. A driver has to be close enough when they enter the DRS zone, which, as Canada showed, isn't always the case. Drivers were finding it difficult to get in to the right position on the exit of the final hairpin and defending drivers were discovering ways of making this difficult.

I think that, in Valencia, we are going to witness some unconventional pit stop decisions, with more teams taking risks and trying to catch out their opponents. It should make for some very exciting racing, because it will result in cars with very different levels of tyre degredation at different periods of the race to each other.

Lastly, I have to apologise for the delay in this blog post. For the last couple of weeks, my time as been solely taken up by preparations for my wedding. Now that I am a married man, it’s back to the blogging. I can’t wait for the European Grand Prix in Valencia... and to discuss an eighth different winner?