2008 Canadian Grand Prix Notes

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

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.