Article by Jacob Black, Photo courtesy of Infiniti Canada
There is a lot to be said for the original, historic circuits on the Formula 1 calendar. For some reason, Montreal always turns on a cracking race – and this year was no exception.
The enthralling Canadian Grand Prix was claimed by Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, but only after both Mercedes struck trouble. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s cars suffered from a lack of electric energy in the latter stages of the race, but despite the handicap were locked in an intense battle for the lead.
Both ran off the circuit briefly during their battle, and the two appeared to make light contact on the straight two-thirds of the way through the race. Shortly after Hamilton’s right-rear tire began smoking, and the Briton retired early with brake issues.
That left a crippled Rosberg to defend from first Sergio Perez, and then Daniel Ricciardo. In the final 10 laps Rosberg, Perez, Ricciardo, Vettel and Felipe Massa were all in contention for the win. Perez’s tire strategy saw him holding down a valiant second place, but with five to go the Mexican reported brake issues. He was then passed by Ricciardo in the Red Bull, who once released chased down Rosberg – passing the German with two laps remaining to claim a memorable win.
The final lap of the race was marred by a clash between Perez and Massa that saw both drivers hospitalized for precautionary check ups. Perez braked early and moved left to defend his position from Massa who collided heavily with the Force India sending both cars violently into the barriers. It was the second major shunt of the race with Marrussia drivers Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi taking each other out on lap one in spectacular fashion – both drivers were unhurt.
The IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway was slightly less frantic but intriguing nonetheless. Ed Carpenter took the win for the team he owns and manages himself – but only after another pit stop error from Will Power. Power blew through the pit lane entry for the second time in as many oval races, earning himself a drive-through penalty with 35 laps to go.
Power was sixth with eight laps to go when Takuma Sato’s Honda detonated, triggering a full-course yellow. Power pitted, and used fresh tires to leap back to second by the time the chequered flag flew. Power’s Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya was third – his best result since rejoining the IndyCar series in 2014.
In NASCAR, Kyle Busch triggered another late-race crash which took out Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards, and set up a 12-lap sprint to the finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr was able to wrest the win from Brad Keselowski after the 2012 champion’s Ford Fusion overheated due to debris on his grill.
Kurt Busch was third ahead of Denny Hamlin and rookie sensation Kyle Larson was fifth. Despite a heavy crash with Marcos Ambrose in pit lane Jimmie Johnson finished sixth.
Regular readers of this site will know that I am an Australian, and that this being my column, I don’t mind being subjective and overt with my opinions. So it will be no surprise to anyone that this week’s Green Flag is awarded to fellow West Australian Daniel Ricciardo. Seven races into his maiden season with Red Bull Racing Ricciardo scored his debut win in Montreal.
Ricciardo has now out-qualified his teammate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in five of seven races and out-raced the German in five of seven also – six of seven if you count Australia where he was disqualified after finishing second, which I do.
While Ricciardo was helped to victory by Mercedes’ mechanical drama it is telling that when the first opportunity to win presented itself, he took it. Bravo Ricciardo!
It wasn’t all beer and skittles for Aussie motorsport fans on the weekend though – Will Power’s penalty for pit lane speeding robbed him of any chance of winning the race. The worst part? Power made the exact same error at the Indy 500. This column has touched on the subject of “soft” pit lane penalties before. Those unfair penalties where driver’s scrape over the line by one or two kilometres per hour and get pinged – this wasn’t that.
This was Power blowing over the line, two-thirds out of control and on the verge of a very large pit lane accident after being too aggressive on pit entry. And so, for the second week in a row, Power gets this week’s Black Flag.