Canadian GP – Qualifying

Unfinished Masterpiece
(Credit: The husband)

So here we all are at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal in glorious technicolour sunshine. Ok its probably just normal blue clouds and yellow sun but so unaccustomed are my eyes and brain to any form of sunny weather (after weeks and weeks of vile, hideous rain) that it took my eyes a few moments to adjust to seeing anywhere bathed in sunshine. Although admittedly there was (gasp) some sunshine even in Kent today but you get my drift, or perhaps not. Enough of my weather rant (you can see I’ve been quite scarred by the inclement conditions recently!).
So what thrills and excitement await us this weekend in Canada? Ponders a while…
Will we have our 7thwinner in 7th races? Where will this insanity end? Maybe we could go a whole season with different winners in each race. This might mean that Narain gets to win a Grand Prix. <Reaches for medication>
Will the Fake Charlie Whiting actually get to press the magic buttons to fire up all the red lights and then start the race. For the uninitiated (or those who have a life outside F1!), the Fake Charlie Whiting is from the world of Twitter and his (very humorous – it has to be said!) tweets have amused the Real Charlie Whiting so much that he has extended an invitation to the Fake Charlie Whiting to the F1 paddock in Montreal. How brilliantly cool is that! After stumbling across the Fake Charlie Whiting on Twitter a few weeks ago, I have since discovered there is a whole army of ‘fake’ F1 characters out there from @FakeMrsSchumi (its not me!!) to @IamLewis4fake to @fakewhitmarsh. There is apparently even a fake safety car Twitter account. What a mad world we live in.
Will Simon Lazenby make a flippant and misjudged ‘joke’ about Gilles Villeneuve along the lines of ‘cars are dangerous as Gilles would well know’ as poor Johnny Herbert alongside him looks for the ground to swallow him up.  For the avoidance of doubt (and legal bods) no crass Gilles comment took place (I hope!).
Finally, how many thousands of times will we hear the phrase ‘Wall of Champions’ – the final corner of the track so named because former F1 champions keep crashing into it. It’s a simple name – does what it says on the tin. There is a distinct possibility that non-former F1 champions will crash into it too given there are two HRTs and Grosjean in the race but safe to say it won’t be renamed the Wall of HRT anytime soon.
I was lucky to see any of the qualifying build-up in the House of Power. Our two TVs (I thought we used to have more but anyway) were stretched to breaking point with various other sporting events. Fighting for survival was:
1.     Canadian GP Qualifying. Obviously.
2.    Football – Netherlands v Denmark. The Netherlands are apparently the husband’s chosen team for the Euros. Yes, he is English (born in Kenya, grew up in South Africa but I think he is still faintly English) but have you seen the state of the England team!?! God bless them.
3.     Cricket – England v West Indies. Some test or other up north.
4.     Rugby – South Africa v England. Both of the husband’s teams playing a match in the city where the husband grew up.
NB. There was also the tailend of some tennis but as it was just the women’s French Open final it doesn’t count.
Sky Towers being Sky opened the show with a totally baffling and nonsensical segment featuring lots of revolving cards and rows of ducks to apparently represent how ordered and predictable F1 has always been until…2012…which guess what…was the year that Sky started showing F1. What a boring, predictable sport it has always been hey. Makes you wonder why we’ve all bothered to watch it for years and years. Collective sigh at Sky’s self-serving reconstuction of F1 history.
Anyhoo, because we are in Canada, Sky have decided to bring Jacques Villeneuve on board for the weekend with seemingly no sign of Damon. Does this mean Damon has been usurped by Villeneuve? How very Williams of the late 90s. I could never warm to Jacques Villeneuve for some reason. Partly for nearly scuppering Damon’s title but also he just seemed to lack any panache and charisma and he is just so opininated. For example, saying Kimi was undeserving of his title in 2007 when Jacques conveniently walked into Williams into a Title Winning Car (even the 4 year old could have won the title in that car) and then did basically sweet FA after winning the title in 1997. And…er…since then really.
So time for the World According to Jacques. Apparently drivers used to have more respect for each other and didn’t push each other off compared to today’s reckless morons (he might not have used those exact words). So Jacques, what about the time Senna pushed Prost off in the final race, or the time Prost pushed Senna off in the final race or the time when Michael Schumacher tried to punt YOU off in the final race. Brundle diplomatically responded by saying he saw things ‘slightly differently’.
Technical update. Basically the FIA ruled that the holes in Red Bull’s floors were illegal. These holes are designed to aid airflow in the diffuser. It’s used to offset an aerodynamic phenomenon called “tyre squirt” (caused by the rear tyres splitting the airflow sending a bow wave of air into the diffuser and robbing it of downforce). A hole or slot to negate tyre squirt will gain some downforce and hence lap time. Is anyone still reading?!?! My apologies, that is as mind-numbingly technical as this blog will ever get but at least it ensures that the husband will keep reading my blog for another week! Anyway the Red Bull’s hole is illegal and Sauber’s slot is legal. Go Sauber.
Zooming on through lots of filler such as Natalie going to the Isle of Man with Mark Webber for the TT motorbike race – actually I was stunned to see it had been sunny in the Isle of Man (I mean, holy cow they have been getting actual sunshine – that’s not fair!!) and that the Isle of Man looked actually very attractive.
Then we had the Most Pointless Segment ever which was never-seen-before pictures of the McLaren Engineering Briefing (I mean, hello, did that not sound really boring when scrawled on the production meeting flipchart!?). Basically it was Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and lots of bods sitting in front of computers and that was it. Maybe it was just a ruse to lead into a feature on Happier Times at McLaren (you know when they won races and stuff) but now its all gone wrong. But you know what Scary Ron is in Canada and he means business. Surely? He’s not the kind of guy to go there for fun (fun is not a word that exists in the Ron Dennis Dictionary!).
So time for Q1 – watched at breakneck speed. Like I said there were four competing sporting events and wailing children to contend with… And dumped out in the dropzone of doom was Kovalainen, Petrov, Vergne, De La Rosa, Glock, Pic and Narain. The Usual Suspects.
Rapidly moving onto Q2 past some Jacques Villeneve waffle. The best most exciting bit was Maldonaldo slamming his car into the Wall of Champions right at the death and whilst on a flying lap. Oh dear. Still on the plus side, Pastor managed not to total his car which in a way was quite impressive and possibly saved his job. His calamitous crash also meant Button squeaked through to the final shoot-out in P10 by the skin of his teeth. Notable casualities from Q2 (ie. failing to make the top 10) were both Williams drivers, Kobayashi and most surprisingly Kimi Raikkonen. Maybe Kimi was a bit ‘tired’. Round of applause to Paul Di Resta who cruised into the top 10 in P8 ahead of Massa and Button. The Beeb will literally be spontaneously combusting with joy at this news if they were indeed showing qualifying which they were not. Until 10.30pm.
Great real-time tweet from @GrandPrixDiary: “Opinions are divided as to whether Jacques Villeneuve looks like Uncle Fester, Lex Luthor, Duncan Goodhew or Michael Stipe out of REM.”
So the final countdown (de duh de duh!) and early on in Q3 Lewis went fastest before Vettel came out and does a stunning lap to slice half a second off to set provisional pole. Alonso jumped into second place and just as I was getting faintly excited for a barnstorming finish, Vettel came out and did an even faster lap. Meanwhile, what might you ask happened to Michael Schumacher (ok, the 4 year old asked me a lot). On what I thought was his final flying lap, he suddenly waved and backed off.  Apparently this was because the team had told him he’d run out of time to complete his final lap. What the heck – why was he sent out with such a fine margin of time to play with. Mercedes are starting to rival McLaren on the Strategy Disastometer of Doom. Or maybe he was worried he would miss the start of Germany v Portugal. I’ll play safe and blame Mercedes. Again.
So cutting to the chase, Vettel ended up claiming pole by some distance. Cue the annoying finger. Oh eff off.
So the line-up tomorrow looks like this:
1. Vettel, 2. Hamilton, 3. Alonso, 4. Webber (normal service resumed), 5. Rosberg, 6. Massa, 7. Grosjean (watch him at the start – pile-up guaranteed!), 8. Di Resta, 9. MSC and 10. Button.
Last time out, qualifying was sensational and the race was dull as the proverbial dishwater. This time, qualifying was decidedly meh so fingers crossed for a mental, crazy good ol’ Canada style race.
À demain.
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