Fernando Alonso’s relationship with his Ferrari mechanics was hanging in the balance over today’s grudge match between Spain and Italy in the European Championships. The game kicked off at midday Canadian time, but with the race starting at 2.00pm it was going to be hit and miss as to whether Fernando would be able to watch it all.
After parking his car on the grid, Fernando dashed back to the Ferrari hospitality area for a ‘comfort break’ and a few more minutes of football before returning to the grid with just seven minutes to go until the start of the race. In the end the game finished 1-1, surely the best possible result for intra-Ferrari relations – if not for Fernando!
Saturday evening was another busy one for the drivers, though some chose to enjoy more relaxing activities than others. Jenson Button, who you’ll recall had already clocked 75km on his bike earlier in the week, took part in a charity fun run around the track. True to his reputation as F1’s ironman, Jenson duly clocked the fastest lap time of the weekend. “I ran my first lap with (my girlfriend) Jessy,” he said. “But my second lap felt quicker than my qualifying lap!”
While Jenson was working up a sweat, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver Nico Rosberg was having a more sedate time. After qualifying fifth on the grid, the German visited the Cirque du Soleil headquarters, situated less than a mile from the track, to watch a performance of their brand new show. It’s not all work, work, work you know. “It’s fantastic,” was his verdict.
Rosberg’s team-mate Michael Schumacher hasn’t had much luck this year and it didn’t show any signs of improving in Montreal. A malfunctioning DRS rear wing led to the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver’s fifth retirement in the opening seven races.
Also looking to improve his luck was Bruno Senna. The Williams driver says that he’s always performed well when he’s done a bit of boxing practice before a race, so this morning he enlisted the help of Williams PR Sophie Eden to hold the pads. Unfortunately it didn’t prove overly lucky for either of them: Bruno recorded a disappointing 17th place finish whilst Sophie spent the day with a stiff shoulder…
Admittedly the Canadian GP doesn’t attract as many celebs as Monaco, but there were still plenty of famous faces with a ‘need for speed’ around the paddock this weekend. Top Gun actor Anthony ‘Goose’ Edwards spent the day with Williams yesterday, while Beverly Hills 90210 star Jason Priestley was at the track today and witnessed a race with a script straight out of a soap opera.
Seven different winners from seven races – who’d have thought it? Roll on Valencia.
It wasn’t so much the calm before the storm in the Montreal paddock this morning, more the calm after the storm. The torrential downpour that lashed the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after FP2 on Friday gave way to clear blue skies, but much of the paddock was still licking its wounds. The fierce wind and rain had disturbed everything from team signage to pot plants, so an extra effort was made to put everything back in its proper place, just as Bernie would like it.
One man who arrived at the circuit looking particularly confident this morning was Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari star fancied his chances of bagging pole position after the performance upgrades he tried out on his F2012 yesterday immediately improved its pace. In the end, he had to settle for third on the grid, but he should still have a good chance of victory tomorrow – provided of course he doesn’t fall out with his mechanics in the meantime. The potential problem? A European championship football match taking place nearly 4000 miles away in Poland between Alonso’s home nation, Spain, and the country from which most of his mechanics hail, Italy.
“Of course I want Spain to win,” quipped the two-time world champion this evening. “But if I tell the mechanics that, I’m worried I’ll come into the pits tomorrow and there’ll be no one to change my tyres!” Best keep the pre-race chat strictly to F1 matters, Fernando…
One man hoping to follow the example set by his national football side is Sebastian Vettel. The Germans won their opening Euro 2012 game on Saturday night just hours after Vettel stormed to a dominant pole position. In doing so he equalled the 32 career poles achieved by British racing legend Nigel Mansell, leading Seb to tackle one post-qualifying interview with the British media in a rather amusing Mansell-esque Brummie accent.
It seems milestones are a bit of a theme this weekend. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen will surpass Mika Hakkinen as the Finnish driver with the most grand prix starts on Sunday. Also moving up the career starts list is MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS racer Nico Rosberg. He’ll take the grid for his 115th grand prix tomorrow, one time more than his dad, Keke, managed.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that I know the most about F1 in the Rosberg family now,” says Nico. (Don’t worry Keke, you’re still ahead on race wins.)
It may not have the glitz and glamour of Monaco, but Montreal is right up there as one of the most popular destinations on the Formula One calendar. Not only are the grandstands always packed full of knowledgeable and passionate race fans, but the circuit is set just a stones throw from the cosmopolitan heart of Montreal, a party city that only gets better when F1 rolls into town.
On Thursday evening all the drivers were invited to a cocktail party at L’Arsenal, a funky art space in one of the city’s fashionable areas. Most of them seemed to enjoy the chance to sample one or two non-alcoholic ‘mocktails’, but Nico Rosberg was quite keen to get away. The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS star, brimming with confidence following his second place in Monaco, had cut an engineering meeting short in order to make it to the party on time and he was desperate to get back to the track to pick up where he’d left off. F1’s biggest workhorse eventually left the track at 10.00pm.
The circuit itself is set on the picturesque man-made Île Notre-Dame in the St. Lawrence River and you’ll often see people fishing not far from the paddock gates. One man who was keen to take full advantage of the beautiful surroundings before the race weekend kicked off was McLaren’s Jenson Button. The 2009 world champ racked up 75km on his bike on Wednesday, all of it on cycle paths, but it must have seemed like a walk in the park for a man who regularly takes in Ironman triathlons.
Another of the paddock’s bike fanatics is Mark Webber, although the Red Bull man is more into the motorised variety having raced them in his youth. Before heading to Montreal, the Australian made a whistle-stop trip to the Isle of Mann to take in the notorious TT motorbike event. He was thrilled to see his chum John McGuinness win a race, and it obviously left him craving an adrenalin fix because as soon as he arrived in Montreal he tried his hand at skydiving in an indoor windtunnel. “After that I have no desire to jump out of a plane,” was his response. Best stick to cars, Mark…