2008 Canadian Grand Prix Notes

Robert Kubica, Montreal, BMW, 2008, 2, 470150

Here are my notes on the Canadian Grand Prix including final thoughts on that pit lane crash, the BMW drivers shuffling position, and another unhapy race for Fernando Alonso.

Add your observations below…

Was Kimi Raikkonen let out of his pit box too soon?

In the aftermath of the Raikkonen / Hamilton / Rosberg pit collision, some people wondered whether a contributory cause was that Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica were side-by-side at the pit exit, rather than one in front of the other. This happened because Ferrari allowed Raikkonen out of his pit box as Kubica was passing, meaning they drove down the pit lane side-by-side.

Is this illegal? Not necessarily. The sporting regulations say:

23 i) It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.

In other words, it’s up to the race stewards whether Ferrari were right to let Raikkonen out when they did, and it seems they were happy with it. In a situation where a large group of cars had entered the pits at the same time, it would have been hard to avoid some overlap. But they probably wouldn’t be able to do it in Monaco.

Pot, kettle, black

Hamilton got a (deserved) heap of criticism for hitting Raikkonen and then a heap more for his less than apologetic tone afterwards. Here’s what Felipe Massa had to say:

If I’d done what Lewis did at the red light, I’d be crucified.

Massa, of course, saw Kubica parked at a red light at the end of the pit lane at the same track last year, and drove past him onto the circuit earning a disqualification. But I don’t remember anyone nailing him to bits of wood.

Did Heidfeld hand Kubica victory?

Another moment the race hinged on was Robert Kubica’s pass on team mate Nick Heidfeld on lap 31. That allowed Kubica to build up enough of a lead at the head of the field so he could make his second pit stop and come back out 3s ahead of Heidfeld.

That may give the impression that, had Heidfeld held Kubica back for a couple of laps, it might have given him the advantage to win the race. But in reality it wasn’t that close between the BMW drivers.

After passing Heidfeld, Kubica was delayed by a series of drivers who also had stops to make, who would have held him up anyway. Plus it’s likely that BMW brought him into the pits for his second stop when he still had more fuel in the car – they would not have wanted to risk his race being ruined by another safety car appearance.

Disagreement at Renault

Fernando Alonso was not happy with Renault’s strategy after he crashed out on lap 45:

The strategy was a mistake that it was too big for what we should demand from ourselves. We would probably have won if we had stayed on track instead of pitting when the safety car came out.

Heidfeld came out ahead of Kubica and he was quite far behind us. He had a long stop. Stopping on lap 25 we would have been ahead of Kubica and we could have won the race.

His analysis of the situation is quite realistic – although it’s not a given he’d be able to have beaten the flying Kubica. Alonso did dispute the pit call with his team, just as he did at Monaco when he repeatedly asked for full wet tyres while on intermediates at the beginning of the race, shortly before he hit the barrier at Massenet.

Alonso’s frustration at being stuck in an uncompetitive car appears to be being amplified by his team’s reluctant to take strategic gambles, opting for ‘safe points’ instead. Bring stuck in seventh in the cosntructors’ championship with only nine points on the board is hardly going to encourage them to take more risks.

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11 comments on 2008 Canadian Grand Prix Notes

  1. It’s interesting that you say Alonso may be frustrated by Renault’s reluctance to take risks. As a driver, Alonso is said to be quite conservative. I remember on the Renault podcast last year they said that whenever they were about to tell Alonso to turn his engine down, they found that he had already done it! If Renault’s strategies are too conservative even for this risk-averse driver, it says something about Renault’s problems just now.

    It may be that Alonso is a strategic genius. Perhaps when he retires from driving he can take on a Ross Brawn type role!

  2. With all due respect,I dont think your description about Massa’s disqualification at last years Canadian GP is right.Massa and Fisichella were ahead of Kubica and they “dint see the red light” and carried on while Kubica(he was behind them both) did and he stopped.

  3. I respectfully disagree doctorvee. There is a difference between conservative and smart. The driver should have significant input as to strategic decisions and if Renault don’t support Alonso properly he will go elsewhere.

    We all know Alonso can be a significant whiner, but he also is an astute observer of what his chances are during a race. I have to go with Fernando’s call on the Montreal strategy gaff.

  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6xMpGkhM5A

    This shows the disqualification incident(check at 1:34)

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th June 2008, 17:02

    Varun that’s a 3D simulation, not actual footage!

    Here’s a video showing part of the ’07 incident:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=732AE4_eZNA

    Kubica was definitely statioary when Fisichella went past him, but Massa may have already gone through. However, Massa did exit the pits under a red light.

    Interestingly, last year they had a red light facing out of the pit lane as well, which I don’t remember seeing this year. Would have been useful for TV viewers!

  6. Martin B said on 14th June 2008, 17:52

    Massa made an extra pit stop. Why was that? He ended up doing much worse than he should have.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th June 2008, 20:44

    Martin B – He followed Raikkonen into the pits during the safety car period but they weren’t able to get any fuel into the car because of a problem with the rig. They sent him around again while they cleared the problem and he ended up pitting just as the safety car was coming in. Then he needed a final stop towrds the end.

  8. Terry Fabulous said on 14th June 2008, 22:34

    Gday Keith!
    I don’t think we can compare the incidents between Massa and Hamilton. The main criticism against Lewis is that he destroyed another Driver’s Race.

    To my memory (And it is often wrong!), Massa did not destroy another driver’s race and as such only hurt himself.

    Furthermore, when Massa was a goose and threw his car off the track you wrote an article titled “Has Massa been found out (sic)” or something close. Suggesting that he without safety car aids he was not the driver he was last year. Since that incident, we have seen Lewis run into Kimi and Fred and run off the road at Monaco. Fred throw the car off at the road at Monaco and Canada. Massa again at Monaco. Webber throw the car off the road at Canada. Kimi run into Sutil and that’s just what I can remember before I go to work! None of them had articles written about whether of not they were out of their depth.

    So I reckon Felipe is spot on, if he had made THTA mistake, he would have been crucified!

    On another note, How good is this season developing! Remember at the start of the year when we all expected a Ferrari benefit? This is shaping up to be a corker!

    Love the latest articles, especially the series about CART drivers.

  9. Lady Snowcat said on 15th June 2008, 10:25

    I think Alonso is running true to character… bless him…

    He probably said something mildly derogatory about strategy which has been slightly blown up in the press…

    But I also think he’s working towards a deal with another team for next year… so doesn’t see the need to sugar coat the pill…

    He has often spoken his mind… when his mind has already been out of the door and with his next team….

  10. I hate to say this but, if you’re going to hire on a driver like Alonso, you might as well at least pay some sort of heed to his wishes. Renault are getting their just deserts with him.

  11. ninguen said on 16th June 2008, 16:50

    Your judgment on the like for risking of Alonso i think it´s a little bit mistaken, at least for this year.
    The years he won the championships is other story, but this year he is saying from Bartcelona, maybe from melbourne even. He will risk everything every time he sees an opportunity to do something great, he has battled for low positions on points while developing renault and he dosen´t sees himself a driver for that, he wants something special, get a podium finish with his car would be something very rewarding for him and will try wahtever opportunity passes by for that, neverminding the points. It is waht he is going for, some podium, something special so everybody will say, Woah, what a race, what a driver, what the hell is doing in that car? some kind of vindication

    Also to say, this is something that for me is suggesting he is thinking for another team next year, he has lost some points that would be rewarding for renault right now. They could be between red bull and toyota, nbow they are behind honda even, and that positions are money lost that next year could be handy

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