Montreal, 11 June - After Friday’s free practice, Fernando Alonso stated that not much significance could be attached to the fact that the two 150º Italias were running competitively, given the uncertainties related to the free sessions.
However, on this occasion, it turns out that some confidence was justified as Fernando will enjoy seeing all the way down the pit straight when he sits on the grid tomorrow. Okay, so out of the corner of one eye he will no doubt notice the blue colour scheme of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull, the German on pole for the sixth time this year, but it’s a Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro front row start nevertheless at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. One place behind the Spaniard is team-mate Felipe Massa, third fastest at the end of Q3, having been quickest in Q2, while Fernando took the top slot in Q1.
Optimism for the outcome of tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix, the seventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship, is therefore perfectly acceptable. However, good grid positions are only the first step on a very long road, a road that last for 70 laps on a track that is notorious for trapping the unwary driver.
This means that, along with the Formula 1 cars, the sports car that serves as the Safety Car often spends a lot of time on track. The weather has been a popular topic all weekend, with heavy storms hitting the city of Montreal earlier in the week, with more rain possibly expected on race day. If the rain does come tomorrow at some point after one o’clock when the race begins, it will be interesting to see what set-up strategies the various teams have adopted: changes to the cars between qualifying and the race are limited to safety related elements only, therefore the bets on the possibility of rain were already placed before the cars tackled qualifying.
While the Ferrari duo have to deal with the track and the elements, it’s the opponents who present the biggest challenge and behind the top three qualifiers, Mark Webber is fourth in the other Red Bull alongside Felipe. Lewis Hamilton is on the inside of row 3 in fifth place for McLaren, with the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg alongside him.
As ever, the start will be important, but overtaking was already a common occurrence here in past years, before the arrival of KERS and DRS, so tomorrow’s race should provide plenty of passing opportunities, especially with the double DRS zone, although effectively it is one long zone from the exit of the final hairpin extending to the pit straight. As ever this season, tyres can be expected to play an important role and even though teams now have experience of running Pirellis at six Grands Prix, the data base is still in its infancy. However, it is clear that degradation is not as significant as had been predicted and of course all of that becomes irrelevant if it rains.