The Canadian weekend got off to an unusual start for our two drivers, with Daniil and Alex taking part in an event organised by Red Bull Canada, which involved one of the best known icons of Canadian life, the Lumberjack!
Wearing the obligatory check shirt, our two drivers joined the Aston Martin Red Bull racing duo of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly to learn some skills used by the famous foresters. If you think driving an F1 car is a risky job then try standing near four drivers all having their first go at axe throwing, wood chopping and tree sawing! Thankfully, they went into the event with forty fingers between them and came out of it with the same number!
After an excellent showing in Monaco a fortnight earlier, we had been hoping for more of the same, but we had a trickier time of it than we would have liked.
But Formula 1 is all about facing tough challenges and when it was clear during Friday morning free practice that we needed to find more performance, the drivers and engineers got stuck into the data and delivered a better car for the afternoon session and made a further step forward on Saturday morning. It wasn’t enough to make it into the top ten on the grid when it was time for qualifying, but a few penalties for others saw us start from tenth with Daniil and 13th with Alex, who acquitted himself well on his first ever visit to the Montreal track.
As you will have seen, our Alex’s race was pretty much over from the very first lap when he got sandwiched between Perez and Giovinazzi and had to pit for a new nose. Usually in Canada, in this situation you have high hopes that a Safety Car period will give you a chance to catch up again to those in front of you, but amazingly the SC was never needed throughout the 70 lap race.
Daniil is in great form at the moment and really squeezed everything he could out of the car on Sunday to record his third consecutive points finish. He had to fight hard and his battles with Stroll and Sainz, passing the Spaniard for the point just five laps from the flag, provided some exciting viewing for the fans. And the single point in Race 7 was enough to move us back up to seventh in the Constructors’ championship standings, just two points behind sixth placed Racing Point.
If there was one aspect of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit that let it down, it was the very old fashioned and cramped pits complex. Not anymore…in the space of just a few months, thanks to support from the local authorities, the famous
venue now boasts a really nice pit building, with a Paddock Club over the top of it and all the usual offices. The new facility made life much easier and next year, the paddock hospitality and catering tents are also due to be replaced. In a very nice gesture, the brand new Race Control Room has been renamed in honour of Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director, who sadly passed away in Melbourne earlier this year. A plaque outside the room was unveiled by FIA President Jean Todt and F1’s Ross Brawn.