From those who are still in Montreal, to those in the factory, not forgetting the ones who spent the night flying home across the Atlantic, one night is definitely not enough for the bitterness to fade for the men and women of the Scuderia after a Canadian Grand Prix that was as chaotic as it was unlucky.
Looking back in the cold light of day at all the incidents that made up this incredibly long Sunday on the Ile Notre Dame, there is still much to regret about what might have been.
Let’s analyse what actually happened point by point over the course of the day. A few days before, it was already clear that Sunday would be the worst in terms of the weather and that turned out to be the case. Unfortunately, this year’s first wet race came just when it was of the least use to the Scuderia, that had not only got both the 150° Italias on the front two rows as a result of the best qualifying since the start of the season, but the car had also shown itself to be competitive enough to raise hopes of being able to fight for the win. Unfortunately, never before has the reality turned out to be so different to the prediction. You only had to see how many messages appeared on the monitors during the two hour plus break in the race: one moment it predicted the rain would die down and then five minutes later there was another downpour. Or the information would be that there was a threat of another storm which in fact miraculously never came or changed direction. This is not a criticism of Meteo France, as it would be all too easy to lay the blame at their door, as the word is “forecast” not “fact” when it comes to the weather. That must be taken into account when carefully analysing the whys and wherefores of certain decisions taken by those on the pit wall, especially in the first part of the race. Right from when they went out onto the grid, our two drivers had different views as to what tyres to use: Felipe felt more comfortable on the extreme wets, while Fernando believed he could do better on the intermediates. Then came the FIA decision to start the race behind the Safety Car, which settled matters once and for all, as only extreme wets can be used in this situation. The performance difference could be seen immediately in the opening laps after the Safety Car had pitted, with Vettel beginning to pull away, Fernando struggling a bit, while Felipe was comfortably keeping up with them while a gap grew behind this trio. It was the same situation at the second restart, when it was already looking as though the intermediates were a better choice: Button, who had immediately gone for this choice, given he had to pit after colliding with his team-mate, was very quick, to the extent that on his one lap with a free track ahead of him he was over a second quicker than Vettel and two faster than Fernando. What did Meteo France predict at this point? Rain, but not too heavy and not for too long. So, some of the drivers in the leading group – Fernando and the two Mercedes – chose to pit to change tyres. The Spaniard was immediately very quick, overtaking the two Renaults and rapidly closing on Webber. Unfortunately, not only did the rain come quickly, but it was a complete downpour, so that those on the intermediates and even the ones on extremes, like Felipe, had to pit for another tyre change. Those who stayed out on track then got an unexpected gift in the form of the red flag. The race was stopped which effectively meant being able to do a pit stop without the penalty of time lost in pit lane.
After the long stop, the race resumed, again behind the Safety Car: the slate had been wiped clean and we were still in with a chance. Shortly after the race was on again, the switch was made to intermediates and the two Ferrari men stopped one after the other. Fernando rejoined ahead of Button, who tried to attack: the two cars collided, the Englishman’s left front wheel hitting the Ferrari’s right rear, a situation which is self explanatory in terms of which car was ahead at the time. The Spaniard was pushed into a spin, ending up beached on the kerb and was unable to get going again. That called for another Safety Car which in fact smoothed the way for the eventual race winner: Button, who still had to pit did not lose too much time in real terms because of the collision he caused (even if the Stewards decided afterwards that it was a racing incident.)
So, we have reached the point where the first Ferrari was out of the race. Knocking the second oneout of the fight for the top places was the work of a backmarker, Karthikeyan, who moving slowly on the dry line, deciding to accelerate just as Felipe, who had just fitted the Supersoft slicks, moved alongside preparing to overtake him. This resulted in the Brazilian, who had driven a great race up to this point, losing control of his car and brushing the barrier. He had to pit for a new nose, after which Felipe staged a strong fight back which ended with him just squeezing ahead of Kobayashi within sight of the finish line to take sixth place. A handful of seconds earlier, Button, who had pitted no less than six times, had crossed the line to win.
“When I think that yesterday we could have taken our first win of the season, then I still feel a sense of anger,” said Stefano Domenicali to www.ferrari.com, when back in his Maranello office. “We were very well prepared for this race and everything evaporated through an incredible run of adverse circumstances. If one looks at everything that happened in the race, I can manage a wry smile: the winner, whom I must congratulate, because one should never lose respect for one’s rivals, actually set a record for pit stops and was always behind our cars while they were actually running on track. Further proof of how difficult it is from the outside to read a race, he made similar strategic choices to the ones for which we are being criticised in what I consider an excessive manner. It’s true that the final result can affect people’s judgment. That’s a rule of sport and we have to accept it, but that does not necessarily mean we have to agree with it.”
The disappointment on Monday morning must not cancel out all the good elements of this weekend for Ferrari. “When you have days like this you want to turn the page immediately, forgetting the negatives and hanging on to the positive aspects. Partly down to the characteristics of the track and also because of all the work we are doing, we are beginning to see the benefits of our efforts, as was the case in Monaco and also in Montreal where we were competitive enough to fight for the win. We must continue down this path, because sooner or later the results will come. Now there is no point looking at the classifications in both championships, as it does not make sense at the moment. We must act like football teams who find they have dropped behind and play every match in an attacking manner, only going for the win. Then, if the others slip up and the situation changes, we will see where we are.”Source Ferrari