Most F1 enthusiasts would rate the Canadian Grand Prix a thoroughly satisfying piece of entertainment. It wasn’t a classic F1 race by any estimation, but it had all the clichés: “the wheel turns”,

“he’s only human” and “every man for himself”.Most F1 enthusiasts would rate the Canadian Grand Prix a thoroughly satisfying piece of entertainment. It wasn’t a classic F1 race by any estimation, but it had all the clichés: “the wheel turns”,

“he’s only human” and “every man for himself”.content here

By Mike Fourie, News Ed.


Fans of Kimi Raikkonen should feel a huge sense of relief on Monday. By winning the Canadian Grand Prix, Kimi has taken a noticeable chunk out of Fernando Alonso’s championship lead. The Spaniard’s championship advantage is just the same as it was before the European Grand Prix - where Raikkonen paid the price for flat-spotting his front tyre, riding the kerbs too hard and going off the track once too often – but the Iceman was back to his best in Montreal.


In Germany, Raikkonen demonstrated that he was certainly brave, but not necessarily wise enough to become champion and Alonso accepted the win with a trademark dimpled grin. But in Montreal, the roles were reversed... Judging from the bits of pit-to-car radio feed we were allowed to hear during television commentary, Alonso seemed a far cry from the cool and calculated young man who stubbornly held Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari at bay in the closing laps of the San Marino Grand Prix earlier this year.


On Sunday, the Spaniard was moaning bitterly about team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella’s pace – which seemed a bit trivial, considering that he was trailing the Italian at the time. Those young gents get paid mega bucks to race each other and, like many grand prix drivers before him, Alonso would have to pass Fisi fair and square if he wanted to lead the race. Later, the rattled Spaniard lost out on a fist of points, if not a victory, when his Renault clobbered the wall.


Alonso and Jenson Button, two of the most precise drivers in today’s crop of F1 pilots, paid dearly for a pair of rare mistakes on Sunday. Raikkonen gained 10 points on Alonso, but more importantly, dealt a psychological blow to the Spaniard, who will be significantly disadvantaged by an early qualifying slot at Indianapolis.


But spare a thought for Fisichella and McLaren-Mercedes’ Juan-Pablo Montoya. Throughout the season, Fisichella has struggled to string together quick laps with the same metronomic efficiency as his Spanish team-mate, but he clearly matched Alonso on Sunday and might even have won if his car hadn’t failed (AGAIN). Montoya, whom I criticised in a recent comment piece, was really on the pace in Montreal and, despite his untidy exit after his first pit stop, genuinely the quicker of the two McLaren drivers on the day.


But there was something fishy about McLaren’s team tactics at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. As ITV commentators James Allen and Martin Brundle pointed out, Renault and McLaren’s main championship contenders were stuck behind their respective team-mates at one point. Team orders have been outlawed, so how could McLaren get Raikkonen get ahead of Montoya? The Woking-based team said that Montoya, who was leading the race when the safety car was deployed after Button’s accident, “misunderstood a pit call” and that’s why he stayed stuck behind the pace car while Raikkonen’s McLaren ducked into the pits without any hesitation.


Montoya has never claimed to be the smartest F1 driver in the paddock, but the Colombian has competed in enough grands prix to know when his team wants him to visit the pits. It seemed so unfortunate that Montoya had to be black-flagged… Why would he rejoin the fray if there was red light on the pit lane exit? Why did he barge ahead of David Coulthard’s car when he joined the track? Was he trying to get disqualified to spite the team out of anger?


Whatever the explanation, it is clear that Raikkonen will be the focus of McLaren’s championship onslaught from this point onward. Any suggestion to the contrary would be as laughable as Renault team boss Flavio Briatore chuckling off the Régie’s double retirement because “both cars had been competitive and the team were still in a strong position”. His pained expression following Alonso’s scrape with the wall told a very different story. McLaren’s on a march; Ferrari too.


Click here for race report.