Inside Line: 2012 Canadian Grand Prix
12:27, 11 Jun 2012
2012 Canadian Grand Prix
If the 2012 Formula One season was to be one day made into a stage musical, act seven could easily be played out to the tune of Etta James’ 1960 hit, “At Last”. Because it was here that Lewis Hamilton finally threw off the shackles of what had been a rather unlucky and unfortunate start to the season. In doing so, he himself managed to continue a rather remarkable trend that’s been witnessed this season as we now have an unprecedented seven different winners in the opening seven races - a feat little or no one would have betted on happening at the start of the year.
The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal loves Lewis Hamilton, and he loves it back in return. Five years ago, an even fresher-faced Hamilton claimed the first of his now 18 wins. Over the course of his career to date, it is without doubt his most successful circuit, with his win on Sunday his third victory in Montreal in just five years – a formidable achievement in itself.
Hamilton’s victory on Sunday is testament to the character that has since evolved from the back end of last season. Reading Lewis’ 2012 body language, it’s easy to forget that this is the same driver that not so long ago seemingly had everything going against him. To make matters worse, he had a particular temperament that made the waiting press know exactly just that. Thankfully for both Lewis and McLaren, it now seems that he has since learned from this troubled period in his career.
This particular learning period over the course of last winter has gotten Hamilton to where he is today. Had he not learned from last year, it could have just as easily been a case of déjà vu from as early as Barcelona exactly a month ago. Instead, despite the frustration, the feeling his pit wall wasn’t doing enough and all the pit stop errors inbetween, Lewis has commendably kept his head down this time around; refusing to give little away. It’s this improved mentality that could be so crucial come season’s end in November.
What’s crucial here for both Hamilton and McLaren is where do they go from here? The obvious answer here is to continue the momentum into the crucial summer period but make no mistake about it; this is one of the most competitive Formula One seasons in history, and with at least four different teams all capable of winning between now and Brazil, this will be a mighty challenge for McLaren and Lewis.
To add to the pressure on the McLaren pit wall – the growing subject that concerns Hamilton’s immediate future in the sport. With Lewis out of contract at the end of this season, the Formula One silly season has already begun. McLaren is a team Lewis has consistently quoted as the team he sees himself racing at for the rest of his career. But, as we’ve seen in many different disciplines of sport, when ambition falters – loyalty generally follows suit.
The task for McLaren is simple, yet challenging at the same time. Provide Hamilton with the tools in order to give him a proper shot at the title come the end of the summer, and no doubt he will sign on for the team that has given him so much. Fail to do so and the consequence could result in the team losing its protégé, and one of the finest raw racers of our generation; almost inexcusable.
Central to this fascinating test of ambition and loyalty are of course the usual suspects. Whilst McLaren will rightfully celebrate another fantastic win in Canada, the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus could just as easily be doing exactly the same in a fortnights time. With each circuit providing a new and different challenge to this year’s Pirelli’s – back to back wins and consistent winning runs of years gone by look to be a thing of the past. Come the chequered flag in Valencia, we should have more pieces added to the 2012 puzzle. This season has only just heated up.
Driver of the weekend: This was Lewis Hamilton’s weekend to hold and treasure. After six gruelling attempts, he finally announced himself to the 2012 title race. Would have been disappointing not to have gotten pole on Saturday, but his attitude and tyre management throughout the 70 laps in Montreal was a joy to watch. This was a weekend that couldn’t have come sooner for Hamilton but he will need to back this weekend up with one of the same in Valencia a fortnight from now for it to have any significant bearing on the title race.
Good weekend for: Managing a one-stopper over 70 laps is no mean feat but for 2nd and 3rd placed Grosjean and Perez, it seemed like child’s play at times. Grosjean supremely made up for the disappointment of crashing out at the first corner in Monaco whilst Perez’s second point’s finish out of seven races funnily enough saw him return to the podium.
Bad weekend for: While Lewis celebrated his win as if it was his first, there were contrasting scenes on the other side of the McLaren garage as Jenson Button was simply at a loss to explain yet another pointless weekend. Now 43 points off Hamilton, there will be some serious head scratching over the next couple of weeks. Elsewhere, Michael Schumacher recorded his fifth retirement in seven races after his rear wing DRS inexplicably failed after 40 laps.
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