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Canada 2013 - Red Bull are the cream of the crop in Canada - Vettel sweeps away the competition, as the midfield shine

Published by Christine

Red Bull mechanic in Canada
Credit: Vladimir Rys

We expect great things from Canada and the anticipation to the 2013 race was just as high as ever. Whereas Monaco is incident-filled but the racing is less exciting, Canada usually provides a good sprinkling of both unusual events and good racing.

We looked forward to the changeable conditions which were set to mix things up, the possibility of a safety car interfering with strategies was higher than normal, and it seemed as though it was a weekend where anything could happen.

Sadly for us and for all the other teams, it was a return to supreme form for Red Bull, who blitzed the competition in some style.

Red Bull

Driver positions - Red Bull
S Vettel1st1st
M Webber5th4th

I'm not sure anyone was expecting Red Bull to be so dominant in Canada. Perhaps a return to form, but the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a track that has favoured McLaren in the past, and the 2013 season has been all about Mercedes of late. Sebastian Vettel just edged past Lewis Hamilton to secure pole position, but come race day, it all went Red Bull's way. It wasn't until we heard Lotus' Alan Permane say whichever way they looked at their data, Vettel was going to storm ahead, that we started to realise what we were in for.

Because that is exactly what happened - no matter what occurred during the race, Vettel was breezing ahead. He didn't lead every single lap, but he may as well have done. He broke the DRS early, pulled out a lead, kept on pushing until he had enough time to pit and remain out in front, and then he started lapping everyone. Only four drivers behind him managed to stay on the lead lap.

Mark Webber will be glad to be one of those, despite an early incident that compromised his aero-setup. Colliding with the backmarker of Giedo van der Garde, Webber lost some of the front wing but continued circling without ever stopping for a new one. The damage can't have been so great that a few extra seconds in the pit to change noses would be worth it, but equally, if the car isn't fully functional, there's not much chance of catching the super-speedy teammate. Overall it was another strong weekend for Red Bull as they added yet more points to their healthy leads in both championships.


Driver positions - Ferrari
F Alonso6th2nd
F Massa16th8th

Felipe Massa had another crash in qualifying (following his two incidents at Monaco) which meant he was out in the second session and placed 16th on the grid. He gave himself a lot of work to do there, admitting that the crash was his fault and it had been more "psychological than physical." The team put their hopes on a good grid slot for Fernando Alonso, but the Spaniard was only fast enough for sixth place - something they blame on the mixed conditions.

Massa had to fight his way through the field, passing wherever possible, and he pulled up to eighth place by the time the race was over. It was a good showing and much-needed to get his head back in the right place. At the front, Alonso was also pushing onwards to try and battle for something better than sixth. He found some real pace towards the end of the Grand Prix, sweeping past Lewis Hamilton to claim second place, with just over one second splitting those two across the line.

The team believe they could have challenged Vettel for victory if they had been higher up the grid on Saturday. Vettel's winning margin was 14 seconds, which is a lot to try and recover no matter where you start on the grid. The team also have to think about how they can start clawing back ground in the championships. Alonso moved up to second place in the driver standings, but the gap to Vettel remains huge. Likewise in the team standings, there are over 50 points between the top two constructors. It's a huge battle but now is the crucial part of the season where it can either run away in Red Bull's direction, or someone, anyone, can keep them in fighting distance.

Fernando produced an absolutely extraordinary performance, especially when taking into account that today, our competitors operated at a really high level. Felipe also showed exactly what he could do: managing to bring home points after starting from the back was the best response to those who felt he was affected by the unfortunate incidents of the last few days.

- Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal, Ferrari


Driver positions - Mercedes
N Rosberg4th5th
L Hamilton2nd3rd

The race in Monaco saw the tip of the Mercedes iceberg - where their previous qualifying performances had been legendary but letdown on a Sunday, the principality offered up the chance for them to snatch victory as well. Canada was not to be so kind to them, and the team missed out on pole position by 0.087 seconds. Lewis Hamilton had to settle for lining up alongside Sebastian Vettel with the Red Bull ahead. Rosberg must have been surprised to find that his neighbour on the grid was a Williams, but that was just testament to the changeable conditions.

The race worked out predictably on Rosberg's side - hard fights, but ultimately dropping positions to finish in the points. The luck appeared to be on Hamilton's side, as the Brit held on to his second place for much of the race, completely unable to challenge the pace of the Red Bull ahead but holding off his challengers for as long as possible. Eventually, he had to relinquish second to the flying Ferrari of Alonso, but remained on the podium for a solid points finish.

Mercedes jumped ahead of Lotus in the team standings, moving into third place and just 11 points behind Ferrari. Hamilton remains fourth on the driver side of things, with twenty points over his teammate - something he will no doubt be glad of. Ross Brawn believes things will swing back and forth, however.

You will naturally get this yo-yoing of form, when you have two drivers as we have who are very, very competitive and very close. One of them gets comfortable with the car at a race, and the other perhaps does not find the balance they want. That is enough to make the difference between them.

- Ross Brawn, Team Principal, Mercedes

Toro Rosso

Driver positions - Toro Rosso
JE Vergne7th6th
D Ricciardo10th15th

Toro Rosso are always under the shadow of their more successful sister team, and the German driver they lost to them. However, as a testing bed for new talent, they are gradually finding their feet, and this weekend in Canada was a strong showing - for one half of the garage.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified well, just squeezing into the top ten and finishing last in that final session. He was given a two place grid drop for the unusual behaviour at the end of the pit lane, but was in good company with Kimi Räikkönen - and the way the penalties worked out, it was only a one place drop in the end anyway. Daniel believes he got a good start, but himself says: "After just four laps, the car was oversteering like crazy and I couldn't manage the tyres anymore." He lost positions and ended the race out of the points with a disappointingly slow car.

The focus was on his teammate Jean-Éric Vergne anyway, as the Frenchman had his best qualifying result ever - ending Saturday in seventh place. For the driver who has been the running joke of qualifying for several seasons, this was a much-needed turn of events. Whereas a position like that could have been deemed a fluke due to the difficult weather conditions, Vergne not only kept hold of his top ten slot during the race, he actually improved up to sixth place by the time the chequered flag dropped.

It is the best result for Toro Rosso since Sebastian Vettel was in the team, and whilst I don't think anyone would be predicting Vergne as the next triple world champion, it's a highlight for a squad that are often overlooked.

Force India

Driver positions - Force India
P Di Resta17th7th
A Sutil8th10th

For a worrying moment on Saturday, it looked as though Paul di Resta was going to be falling out with his team again and having a dire weekend all round. Another poor tyre decision during the on-again/off-again rain during qualifying meant that Di Resta dropped out in the first session, only managing 17th place. Thankfully, he turned things around on Sunday, with a tyre call that made things better, rather than the opposite.

Opting for a one-stop strategy, Di Resta was incredibly light on his first set of medium tyres, running 57 laps into the race before coming in for his first pit stop of the afternoon. The team gave him a radio message that made it categorically clear that it was his call when to come, those on the pitwall obviously a little burned by the problems they've had for the last few weeks. The new tyres on, Di Resta managed to hold on for 7th place, a reasonable points finish, but more importantly, an incredible climb through the field. At last, a smiling Scot post-race.

Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil was having what he termed an "adventure" out on track. He spun the car but continued unscathed, he was crashed into by Pastor Maldonado, and he was given a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags, after holding up some of the leaders for too long. He claims the penalty was unfair and cost him too much, particularly as he also had to lap other cars and was held up in his own race too. A mixed weekend for the team, overall, but one that may have gone some way to uniting the driver and engineers where previously there had been some angst.


Driver positions - Lotus
K Räikkönen9th9th
R Grosjean19th13th

The Canadian Grand Prix weekend was not one that Lotus will be shouting about. Romain Grosjean was always going to suffer in qualifying, taking a ten place grid drop from Monaco. He didn't help matters by only securing the 19th fastest time in the session itself anyway, meaning he was forced to start from the rear of the grid. Kimi Räikkönen fared slightly better, getting into the top ten but only 9th fastest - and he subsequently was handed a similar penalty as to Daniel Ricciardo, for lining up in a third queue at the end of the pit lane.

With a lot of work to do in the race, Grosjean managed to improve to 13th place, after some good work on the medium tyres, but a car that handled differently on the softer compound. Räikkönen made no impact on his grid position at all, moving up just the one place. The Finn struggled with the tyres and with a brake problem, which is the one thing you don't want to have around the heavy-braking circuit in Montreal.

The team are fully aware that this weekend was a write-off in terms of points. With Kimi's meagre haul, they have lost a standings place to Mercedes that they will be eager to reclaim. Team boss Éric Boullier is optimistic that this performance was a one-off.

This is a very specific track, and with our car we could just not switch the tyres on. It does not help as well when it is cold and it is wet. You do not lose 1.5 seconds from one race to another one. It is just that something went wrong. We have some good developments coming for Silverstone, so that should help us keep up and close the gap to the leader. And with normal tracks we should be able to get the best out of our car.

- Éric Boullier, Team Principal, Lotus


Driver positions - McLaren
J Button14th12th
S Pérez12th11th

You know it's not going well when Jenson Button is interviewed at the end of a long race and says it is the most grateful he has ever been to get out of a car. The Brit has had his fair share of difficult cars, the Honda springing to mind, but this weekend's performance from McLaren must have hit rock bottom.

After a midfield qualifying performance, the team split their strategy with Sergio Pérez on the two-stop format, and Jenson Button trying a one-stopper. Button has now said they should have started on the medium tyre to get the most out of the early stint before switching to the softer compound. In reality, they did the reverse of this, and found pace and degradation very difficult to manage. Pérez felt something similar on his own strategy, struggling with the soft tyres.

Morale within McLaren must be sinking deeper and deeper, as the team had expected to pull themselves up out of the midfield and start challenging for wins at this point. At the start of the year, the goal was to hit their stride as the European leg began, but that has been and gone. Now it is the team's home race at Silverstone, and they'll want to put on a good show for the British fans. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh is keen to keep the spirits up.

You have to be an optimist in this business, particularly in these moments, and I've been through various ones before. We have to keep people motivated and focused. We have to believe we can work hard and win a race. We haven't given up yet.

- Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal, McLaren


Driver positions - Williams
P Maldonado13th16th
V Bottas3rd14th

Another team suffering through a slump of form is Williams, but the weekend in Canada had its highlights for them. Although Pastor Maldonado put in a regular performance in qualifying, the conditions favoured Valtteri Bottas who stormed through to the top ten. Expecting a position lower than fifth for the Williams, it was a surprise to all to see the Finn post the third fastest time of the session, securing himself a spot on the second row of the grid.

Our expectations were sadly met during the race, as the pace of the Williams couldn't hold a candle to those around it. Bottas gradually dropped down the order, finishing the race in 14th place, but he wasn't too downhearted about it. The lack of pace was "inevitable" according to the Finn, and the team still hail the performance as a morale boost.

Maldonado's race was less of a motivational tool, as he was given a drive-through penalty for colliding with Adrian Sutil. With a car lacking pace, a penalty served, and a two-stop strategy just like those around him, Pastor dropped back to finish16th, leaving his teammate to scoop all the attention.


Driver positions - Marussia
J Bianchi20th17th
M Chilton21st19th

It was a quiet weekend for the two Marussia drivers, particularly in qualifying. They dropped out of the first session early as per usual, and there was little to write home about from Saturday's action. There was just one car behind them, the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde, but things mixed themselves up nicely in the race.

Chilton opted for a one stop strategy, and felt as though it was a good first stint on the medium compounds. Of course, when he switched to the options, it was a different story and he complains of significant tyre wear that held up his progress. Meanwhile, Jules Bianchi managed to finish 17th, also on a one-stop strategy, and the Frenchman felt he was back on form this weekend.

With a total of only two pit stops for the Team today we knew that each had to count and the mechanics did a fantastic job to service both cars in a quick time. Really then it was about managing the wear life on the Supersoft tyre and getting both cars to the end of the race. Overall we can be pleased that we have made progress at what has traditionally been a less than favourable circuit for our cars.

- John Booth, Team Principal, Marussia


Driver positions - Caterham
C Pic18th18th
G Van der Garde22ndDNF

After getting a lot of plaudits after his weekend in Monaco, Giedo van der Garde turned things around and had one of the worst weekends ever in Montreal. The Dutch driver qualified last on the grid and it wasn't long before he was being lapped in the race. First Mark Webber tried to get past, which ended with the Caterham turning in on the Red Bull and stripping it of one front-wing endplate. He gained a drive through penalty for that. Later, in a less-clear incident with Nico Hülkenberg, the pair collided while the Caterham was being lapped, ending both races. Giedo also secured a penalty for that, the stewards handing him a grid drop for the next race at Silverstone.

Meanwhile, Charles Pic was keeping his head down and getting on with things. He qualified and finished the race in the same position, splitting the two Marussia drivers as the chequered flag fell.


Driver positions - Sauber
N Hülkenberg11thDNF
E Gutiérrez15th20th

Last but not least, it's Sauber. Or maybe they were least this weekend, as both drivers failed to make it to the end of the race. Qualifying was the more traditional midfield performance that we have seen from the Sauber squad so far this year - Nico Hülkenberg just missed out on participating in the top ten shootout, whilst Esteban Gutiérrez managed to keep himself out of the bottom six in the first session.

Unfortunately for Hülkenberg, his race was short-lived when the collision with Giedo van der Garde occurred and knocked him out of the afternoon's running. Gutiérrez managed to get within seven laps of the finish line, before retiring after an incident coming out of the pit lane. The entire team know this is a weekend to forget, and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn says simply: "If you have weaknesses on the car in addition to a track that doesn't suit you, then it's twice as hard."

All content in the series Canada 2013