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Poetic Wins At The Canadian Grand Prix

Round 9 of the 2024 Formula 1 season is here. We will be racing in Montreal for the 53rd Canadian Grand Prix.

The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the most legendary tracks on the 2024 F1 calendar. Over the years, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has given us maiden race victories, legendary battles and memorable races. While the Canadian GP has had many special editions that will be remembered for time to come, there are some occasions where we got poetic race wins. Here we will look at some of them.

2007: The first for a centurion

The 2007 Canadian Grand Prix was the start of Lewis Hamilton’s incredible numbers in Formula 1. On the Saturday of that weekend, he took pole position number 1 of 104. To make up the rest of the top 5 were his teammate, Fernando Alonso, Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber, and the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa respectively.

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Both McLarens had a good start, but Alonso tried to overtake Hamilton at Turn 1 but instead went wide and over the grass. He went wide again at Turn 1 on lap 15, falling further behind his rookie teammate. Three laps after that, he went off at Turn 1 yet again and dropped to fourth as a result.

On lap 22, Hamilton pitted and dropped to p3. Just after the young Brit had pitted, Spyker’s Adrian Sutil crashed at Turn 4. The safety car was deployed, and as per the rules, the pit lane was closed until the grid had bunched up behind the safety car. However, because they were low on fuel, Alonso and Williams driver Nico Rosberg pitted. As a result, they received 10-second stop-and-go penalties each.

Massa, another driver in the title fight with Hamilton had his race ruined at the pit lane. When the pit lane opened, Massa and Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella went in to pit, but left the pit lane when the red light at the end of the pits was on. Both drivers were later disqualified from the race as a result.

Ten drivers did not finish the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. There were two disqualifications, six retirements due to accidents, including Robert Kubica’s big crash, four gearbox failures and 4 safety cars. Lewis Hamilton however drove an almost flawless race, steering clear of trouble.

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The final race restart following a safety car period was on lap 60. During those final 10 laps, Hamilton pulled away from Hiedfeld. Lewis Hamilton went on to take the chequered flag first. That day Lewis Hamilton earned win number 1 of 103.

2008: A redemption arc

At the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, Robert Kubica had a nasty crash. He had been subjected to a peak G-force of 75G. Despite the heavy impact, he only suffered a light concussion and a sprained ankle. He missed only the next Grand Prix, the Indianapolis, but was back on track for the French GP where he finished P4.

He returned to the track where he had what could have been a fatal crash the following year. Kubica incredibly qualified P2 start for the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was the favourite to win the race, and he started on pole.

The Brit had a comfortable lead, the gap between him and Kubica over 5 seconds before Adrian Sutil’s Force India had a gearbox failure. The safety car was called out on lap 19, and Hamilton led Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen among others into the pits. The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and Kubica concluded their pit stops ahead of Hamilton, but came to a stop at the end of the pit lane due to a red light. Hamilton however did not see the red light early enough and slid into the back of Raikkonen. Nico Rosberg also did not see the red light early enough and his Williams then slid into the back of Hamilton’s car.

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To the Polish man’s luck, Kubica was left unscathed, whilst Hamilton and Raikkonen retired from the race. The favourite to win the race, Lewis Hamilton was out of contention. Potential strong contenders in Ferrari’s Raikkonen and Felipe Massa too were out of contention. Massa was still in the race but had dropped far down the grid as a result of the pit lane chaos caused by his teammate’s retirement.

BMW Sauber had a high chance of winning the race with either Kubica or Nick Heidfeld. The two however were on two different strategies, Kubica on a two-stopper, and Heidfeld on a one-stopper. When Heidfeld eventually made his pit stop, Kubica with a lighter car overtook his teammate on lap 29.

Kubica’s race became about keeping his teammate as far behind as possible. And he did just that. In a race that had seven different race leaders, it was Kubica, the seventh race leader who crossed the finish line first. Heidfield made it a BMW Sauber 1-2, crossing the line 16 seconds after his teammate. Red Bull’s David Coulthard took the final podium position.

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On the track that gave him what is probably his worst memory in motorsport, he won. Robert Kubica took his first and only F1 win in his career at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

2011: A drive-through penalty, a puncture, a front wing change and six pit stops

The 2011 Canadian Prix is considered one of the best races in Formula 1 history. The weather created a great spectacle of sporting entertainment, and Jenson Button, known for driving well in the wets, arguably had the best drive of his career.

Sebastian Vettel had won 5 of the previous 6 races, on a good run to win a second consecutive Drivers’ Championship title. At the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, the German was on pole for the 6th time that season.

It had rained before the race, and so the track was still quite wet. The race started behind the safety car before it returned to the pits at the end of lap 4. Sebastian Vettel led the pack ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Behind the two out front, Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton made contact, Webber losing more places than the Brit. Three laps later, Hamilton was involved in another incident. While attempting a move on his teammate on the pit straight, the two made contact. Hamilton retired with a puncture and suspension damage, while the incident called for the safety car.

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During that safety car period, there are drivers who pitted for intermediate tyres, Button included. Button served a drive-through penalty, however, for speeding under the safety car. Race leader Sebastian Vettel remained with his wet tyres. This proved to be the right decision for the young German, as heavy rain started pouring a few laps later. The race officials deployed the safety car again on lap 20, but after a few laps behind it, they red-flagged the race for a little over two hours.

The race eventually resumed, and it was definitely worth the wait.

On lap 37, Button and Alonso made contact. Alonso beached his car and retired. Button on the other hand had to pit yet again, as he had sustained damage to his front wing and was carrying a puncture. By lap 54, Vettel who had been driving flawlessly was still leading the race comfortably in his Red Bull. Button who often dropped places throughout the race had worked his way up and made it to P6 at that point. Two laps later, Button was in P4.

Mark Webber made a mistake on lap 65, Button thus taking P3 from him. Later that lap, the McLaren driver overtook Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes for P2. Button who had been flying the entire race kept setting fastest lap after fastest lap and closed the gap to Vettel. On the last lap, Button was within a second of Vettel. Vettel went wide at turn 6 however, and Button went past him to take the lead of the race for the remainder of the lap.

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Button went on to cross the line first, Vettel, Webber and Schumacher behind him respectively. In what was an eventful race from start to finish, Ferrari driver Felipe Massa overtook Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber right on the line for P6.

Jenson Button had everything thrown at him that day. A collision with his teammate, a collision with Alonso, a drive-through penalty and six pit stops. Against all odds, Button showed proper mastery of the wets, and phenomenally drove his way to victory.


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