Well we certainly need a weekend off after the chaos in Montréal. FUN FACT: Due to the time-difference, first practice in Valencia began before the end of the Canadian GP. I think. Anyway, it's certainly been an interesting week since la pluie s'est finalement arrêté au Canada* and this Saturday, as usual, we get a chance to reflect.
This Weekend In F1
- Hamilton and Stewart Swap Cars: Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart gave each other a taste of their vastly different machinery in demonstration runs at Watkins Glen. Both drivers were hugely enthusiastic after they exchanged the McLaren MP4-23 F1 car and the Stewart-Haas Chevy NASCAR, though you may be surprised to hear the whole event was almost cancelled. Our spies in the paddock say Lewis threw into a rage after he misheard the offer and thought a Steward, Tony, was asking after him*.
- Ferrari Edging Towards 2012 Plan: Ferrari may start focussing on 2012 development if the next two races don't launch them into the thick of the title fight. This means they'll have one race, in Silverstone, to scope out how Red Bull fare without their precious off-throttle exhaust blown diffuser, which is to be banned for the British GP. But Ferrari still aim to take advantage of the hot, dirty air as they have signed up another four years of Marlboro sponsorship.
- Schumacher: Resign or Re-sign?: Another great race by stumbling comeback king, Michael Schumacher, means the old dog has finally managed to dampen the career crisis talks. Ross Brawn even suspects Schumacher may be good to continue racing beyond his three year contract, but this only reminds me of the disgusted look my wife gives when I say the cheddar will still be good if I just scrape off all the mould...
This Time Last Year
- Schumacher's Canada Calamity: Schumacher drew unanimous criticism from the F1 world after an appalling error-ridden race in Canada. Schumi qualified only 13th, was overtaken by Force Indias and Toro Rossos, crashed into Felipe Massa and forced Kubica onto the grass as he tried to defend against the Pole. 'He drove appallingly ... his worst weekend,' said Martin Brundle; 'Humiliated like never before,' said Bild; 'A big, big concern,' said Eddie Jordan; 'A shadow of his former self,' said David Coulthard.
- Hamilton takes Championship Lead: Lewis Hamilton's great win in Canada - his second win in a row - put him at the top of the table, three points ahead of team mate, Button. The championship looks sweet for the McLaren team as they head back to the second European leg. The unique surface and layout of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve meant that the drivers had to manage their tyres more than they'd experience so far this season, leading to more pitstops and an exciting strategic race. Fans called it the best race of the season (so far) and this became the benchmark race for Pirelli's tyre development.
- Title Fight Will Be Two Horse Race: The current five-way championship won't last much longer, suggests Mark Webber. 'It is more often the case that until mid-season there are three to five drivers all together,' said the Australian. '70 per cent in there will probably be only three or so in it, and with a few races to go it becomes a duel. Perhaps the champion will even be known before the last race.'
This Time Next Year
- Teams Finally Agree on Engine Format: After nearly a year of infighting within FOTA and the FIA, the 2013 compromised engine format has finally been decided. This gives the suppliers just six months to design, build and test the following engines:[/list]
- Renault: 1.6 l v4 turbocharged engine with 400 kJ of KERS storage @ 60 kW power
- Mercedes: 1.8 l v6 supercharged engine with 300 kJ of KERS storage @ 100 kW power
- Ferrari: 3.6 l v12 non-turbocharged engine with 1000 kJ of KERS storage @ 65 kW power
- Cosworth: 3.0 l v10 non-turbocharged engine with 400 kJ of KERS storage @ 70 kW power
- BBC To Buy Red Bull Energy Station: BBC Sport have confirmed they are to buy the Red Bull Energy station and use it as their HQ for future Grands Prix from September onwards. In a special deal with the team, the broadcaster has allowed Red Bull to rent some of the space for hospitality and team briefings
- Blachford Sequel Crisis Rumours: Christine Blachford's highly anticipated new F1 book, That'll be the Day : 365 F1 Stories (Part 2) is apparently in serious trouble after she revealed that absolutely nothing of note ever happened on February 11th. 'I got away with that story about Maurice Hamilton sneezing the shape of the Virgin Mary into his hankie in the first book,' the author said, 'but after that, there's nowhere else to go.' The SidePodCast writer has denied rumours she plans to release the book on February 11th 2013 as a meta solution to her problems.
* translation: "Sunday"
**I apologise. That was a terrible joke, and I rewrote it three times just to make it make some kind of sense.