For the second race weekend in a row, the weather has been keeping the F1 teams guessing. As in the race at Monaco, team members were glued to their weather radars during practice in Canada, getting mixed messages about whether or not the clouds were going to burst.
When they did, it was several minutes after the chequered flag had fallen on the final practice session. It left those who had altered their plans in anticipation of the rain scratching their heads.
Hamilton on form
McLaren were among those who ignore the rainclouds and Lewis Hamilton was in superb form throughout the two 90-minute sessions. Hamilton clicked with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve when he first raced at the track in 2007 and scored his maiden F1 victory here.
He was quickest in both Friday practice sessions, shaving the barriers with millimetre-perfect precision. Afterwards he revealed he was on course to set an even faster lap when the second session was red-flagged when Bruno Senna crashed. Small wonder, then, that his odds have shrunk to 2.40 for him to claim his third victory in five races here.
However, a note of caution for Hamilton backers: both Ferrari drivers were within two-tenths of a second of his lap time by the end of the second session.
Massa making progress
Two races ago, it would have only been necessary to refer to Fernando Alonso when talking about the pace of the Ferraris. Felipe Massa began 2012 as he ended 2011 – in his teammate’s shadow.
But in the last race at Monaco, Massa turned a (metaphorical) corner. In the build-up to this weekend he made references to unlocking a secret in the F2012 that’s helped him access more of its potential.
“I discovered things that, for sure, can be the direction for the other tracks as well,” he said on Thursday, adding: “[I’m] really looking forward to following that direction and being stronger and stronger all the time.”
He crossed the finishing line in Monaco with his teammate in sight, something that’s rarely happened this year. Today he was just a tenth of a second off Alonso.
While Alonso is priced at 9.00 to win Sunday’s race, Massa is at a lengthy 40.00. It would be quite an upset if he triumphed – he hasn’t won a race since losing the world championship to Hamilton in Brazil four years ago. However, Canada is the sort of track which produces surprise results, and if that’s all the excuse you need to take on a long shot on Massa then go for it. One thing to bear in mind, though – if he’s running directly in front of Alonso, expect Ferrari to order him to let his team mate past, as they did in Germany two years ago.
The Canadian Grand Prix is one race for animal lovers to avoid. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a temporary facility that is seldom used for other races, and during the first practice session it was clear the noisy cars were disturbing many of its regular inhabitants. The TV cameras spied a fox, a squirrel and a groundhog scampering across the track. Fortunately none of them met a grisly end under an MP4-27 or RB8.
Their ancestors have, however. Italian Alessandro Nannini punctured a tyre when he ran over a groundhog in 1990, while Anthony Davidson’s hopes of scoring a shock result for Super Aguri were dashed in 2007 when he too hit a groundhog and had to pit for a new front wing.
But in fairness, in both incidents the animals in question came off far worse. Here’s hoping they stay safe in their burrows and nests this weekend.