The Air Canada Grand Prix took place on the Circuit Villeneuve situated on the Isle de Notre Dame in Montreal in the World Expo Park. It started nearly like a “Water Ballet”, very wet on Friday’s qualification, with Barrichello and Schumacher in their Ferraris in first and second position, both on Michelins. Fortunately there was the qualifying of Saturday with more realistic times, which differed approx. 15 seconds from the times the fastest drivers drove on Friday. In fact both days didn’t give us many sensational things to see, except perhaps some spinning and lots of spray behind the cars.
In the second qualifying on Saturday with a 'green' track, Raikkonen slipped to the outside in the first corner - probably due to cold brakes - and touched the dirt behind the curbs with his right rear-wheel and kissed the barrier. His rear-wing hanging loose, he parked up, crossed the track and went to the “parc fermé”, in conformity with the new rules of the FIA, for the regulation weighing. It was at that time pretty obvious that - with this howler - he lost his lead in the World Championship.
Ralf Schumacher drove the best time, followed by his team-mate Montoya and his brother Michael . Barrichello, locking wheels, ended up 5th just behind Alonso (Renault) who had a very good run. Remarkable perhaps was the fact that in 2002 Montoya qualified on pole position with 1:12.8 and Ralf this year with 1:15.5…
The start on Sunday showed us that the drivers were given clear team orders because all of them took the first corner very sensibly. Montoya and Ralf (pole) both had a very good starts, followed by Schumacher who just overtook the Renault of Alonso. Barrichello lightly touched the Renault of Alonso. The touch perhaps was due to a little frustration, because he had not made a good start. It cost him a stop of 15 sec’s and in the end perhaps a place on the podium. While Barrichello came in Montoya played spinning-top. It cost him probably the victory but it could have been worse. If it happened 3 meters ahead he would have hit the wall!
On lap 5 Trulli lost the tread of his tire and had to make his first pit stop. Two laps after that Heinz-Harald Frentzen stood beside the track and one wondered if this isn’t the last season for him in Formula 1....
From the first lap there was a lot of racing going on. Four laps after his stop Trulli is spinning and Montoya overtakes Alonso. Lap after lap Michael Schumacher followed his brother at approx. 0,5 sec’s, behind him Montoya at 1.2 sec’s setting the highest speed at 345 km/h. With a beautiful overtaking manoeuvre Coulthard overtakes Christian da Matta and took 7th place. In the meantime Jos Verstappen (Minardi) is making the first regular pit stop. All tires are changed and with a time of 11 seconds it meant that he took lots of fuel.
In lap 13 Wilson is the second “pit stopper”, while Jacques Villeneuve has problems with brake discs. Because Canada is a very fast circuit one should adjust the brake balance in a ration of 40/60 with the balance more to the rear. Because of a brake fluid leak the mechanics needed to put out a little fire, but they couldn't fix anything, resulting two laps later in Villeneuve’s retirement.
The top three were making their pit stops, starting with Montoya during lap 18 from 3rd place, in 9.6 sec’s. Ralf made his stop in lap 20 in 8,8 sec’s. The front tires were not changed and he returned just after Alonso on 3rd place. Michael had a pit stop in 10,6 sec’s and returned just before his brother Ralf on the track with Alonso on first position for the time being, because he still had to make his stop.
As I said before, there wasn’t much of excitement, although there was enough competition going on but this didn’t result in spectacular driving and overtakings. On lap 30 Michael set the top speed at 348 km/h and that, of course, is rather spectacular… Three laps later Raikkonen lost the tread of his right-rear Michelin tyre - just like Trulli. It cost him 5 places and returned just before Button on the track. By that time Michael was in first position, followed by his brother Ralf and Montoya in third.
At this point we can make a jump to lap 40 in which Barrichello makes his second pit stop for Ferrari. During his pit stop one could see the bargeboard hanging loose and it wasn’t fixed. A lap later it was launched like a catapult and bounced off the the crash barriers. At that time many cameras became hot taking shots of the left side of the Ferrari being “unprotected”. One could see the beautiful slanting left side, near the side pods. Then it was Montoya turn: he drove with a broken wing mirror…
On lap 45 Ralf Schumacher made his second pit stop and on lap 47 his brother Michael got four new tires. He returned just ahead of Ralf but behind Alonso. Next, Coulthard stopped with gearbox problems and a few moments later Ralf is suddenly driving with a fluttering wing mirror, while Alonso had extended his lead to nearly 9 seconds. On lap 54 Alonso had his second pit stop and returned on the track in 4th position, after Michael in first followed by Ralf and Montoya.
In the last laps of this GP the leaders were fighting with grim determination and it’s nice to watch the “French-tastic” image of the unchained Alonso in his efforts to catch Montoya but it all led to nothing. Michael Schumacher took the deserved honours for the Canadian GP, giving him his fourth victory of the season. This victory puts him at the top of the driver’s championship ahead of its previous leader Kimi Raikkonen with 54 versus 51 points.
Why 999? That's the number of points Michael has now scored in his F1
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