Our Technical Partners Force India got another points finish at the weekend at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The race opened with drama as the Wall of Champions claimed Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley, who then veered wildly across the track collecting Williams’ Lance Stroll. A safety car came out for a few laps, and after the restart there was almost more drama as Force India driver Sergio “Checo” Perez was collected by Renault’s Carlos Sainz, causing him to lose control of the car and skid sideways across the track. He managed to save it, but dropped a few placed down to 13th.
Esteban Ocon meanwhile was doing well in 7th, when the team brought him in on Lap 12 for an early pit stop. Unfortunately, the run of pitstop mishaps continued for Force India, and a sloppy jack man cost him 2 seconds on the pit stop. With the following Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Saintz immediately responding, they successfully managed to overcut the Force India car to move ahead.
As the rest of the field came in for their pit stops, Esteban ended up stuck behind the Haas car of Romain Grosjean. He was clearly the faster driver but there was no way past – overtaking was almost impossible this weekend at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, despite the three DRS zones. Finally on Lap 50 Grosjean came into the pits, but the proximity of the pit entry to corner 13 meant Grosjean nearly ran into Ocon as he braked. Thankfully both drivers avoided disaster, and Esteban set back out after the Renaults. He caught right up into DRS range but despite having the speed, there was no way past on the short straights.
Meanwhile Checo, who had come out in 14th after his second pitstop, was gaining on the other Haas driver, Kevin Magnusson. Eventually he did manage to get past, but the Canadian Grand Prix had a Joker up its sleeve – model Winnie Harlow, who had been tasked with waving the chequered flag, brought it out a lap early at the start of Lap 70. She was quickly reprimanded by race leader Sebastien Vettel over the radio, but it was too late. Formula One rules state that in the unlikely event of a premature chequered flag, the result reverts to the standings at the end of the previous lap. Though no points were lost by any party, it did mean that Checo’s hard work to overtake Magnusson was undone.
We caught up with Force India’s Driver’s Eye to hear what he had to say:
“I am very disappointed to come away from this race with no points,” he said. “The start was good, although I didn’t make up any places, but the restart after the Safety Car was even better and I managed to pass Carlos [Sainz]. I was very surprised when he hit me because I gave him more than enough room.
“We tried something different with the strategy – going for a two-stopper – but it wasn’t enough to get back in the points. Overtaking was impossible, with these cars you can’t follow another car and pass them unless you have a big advantage. It’s a shame because I feel we had the pace to be mixing with the Renaults and we should have scored some good points.”
His team mate Esteban was a lot more optimistic having finished inside the top 10 for the 2nd race running:
“It’s good to pick up more points, but we had the potential to score even more today. I had a fantastic first lap and got ahead of Hulkenberg, which was the target, and I was running well in seventh place. Then we had a small issue at the pit stop, which cost us a couple of seconds, and it dropped me down behind both of the Renaults. From there I tried my best to fight back and I came close to catching Sainz in the final few laps, but it wasn’t possible to overtake, especially after he cut the track and gained some time on the final lap when I was about to overtake him. It’s a shame because the strategy should have worked really well. I will focus on the positives because it’s been a strong performance by the team this weekend. We can be satisfied with what we have done here. The pace has been competitive, but we need to keep pushing.”
So that concludes Formula One’s brief visit across the pond to beautiful Montreal. Join us in two weeks for the 2nd leg of the European tour when we return to the Circuit Paul Ricard on the stunning French Riviera.