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Canadian Grand Prix

Fan Feature: 5 Lessons From a Formula 1 Race

Jenny Tynes - AlwaysAustin.comThe following is a special feature from Austin F1 fan, Jenny Tynes. Jenny is an experienced Austin Realtor® that excels at introducing and teaching others the ins and outs of Austin to help make it home. From neighborhoods to school systems, the Congress Avenue bats to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, the best margaritas to live music, Jenny has a lot to share about Austin and is expecially excited about the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix

I wanted to take a test run of a Formula 1™ race before the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin this November. That is what led me on an adventure to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in June of 2012. And am I ever glad that I took the racing fan plunge!

The Montreal Factor

Lewis Hamilton waits in the garage before the Canadian Grand Prix
Good things come to those who wait. For Hamilton, that good thing came in the shape and form of a Grand Prix Gold Cup from the beautiful Sunday race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal. It was a much-needed boost for Hamilton's points in the Championship to stay competitive, a long time coming win for Hamilton to prove to the world that he still got it, and a respectable comeback for the McLaren Team from the many errors they've made in recent races.

The race started well enough with the usual suspects on the front rows - Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and Webber. Soon after the race started, we are treated with Webber and Rosberg fighting for 4th position with some great wheel to wheel action, and Massa driving like a man who has something to prove. Rumor has it that Ferrari is looking for a new driver to replace Massa, so Massa has a lot riding on his performance in coming races. I am also continuously impressed with Di Resta, he's been doing really well in qualifying and races given the car he has, with a little more time and a better car I could see Di Resta on the podium.

Noticeably missing in the front battles are Button and Raikkonen, they've both fallen off the radar in the last few races. It's definitely odd to see Button struggling so much while Hamilton is competitive from the same McLaren car. Can the car setup really make that much of a difference? Button went from 10th position 16th at the end of the race. With Raikkonen's Lotus, it's hard to decide whether it's car or strategy that ultimately ruins the Ice Man and his comeback, I'm inclined to think both are factors for the time being. Started at 12th spot on the grid, Raikkonen went up 8 positions to 4th and then fell back to 8th right. And yet, Grosjean, also with a Lotus car, went from 7th to 2nd. How long will we have to wait before we see the Ice Man smile a non-smile on the podium?

Nothing like a little pit-stop action to shake up the line up. Right around lap 17, Vettel pitted and then just missed by a hair coming out to have Hamilton over cut, and then Alonso did the same to Hamilton after Hamilton pitted. McLaren's pitstops continue to make me nervous, even though I think the mini-stall at the pitstop was Hamilton's own doing. No matter, Hamilton recovered from that little hiccup at pitstop and eventually passed Alonso in DRS zone in lap 20.

The person who didn't recover and basically had some of the worst luck of the season is Schumacher. Schumacher qualified 9th, but ended up with a faulty DRS wing and had to retire. The mechanics can't even fix it with their gloved-hands at the pit stop. Totally tragic to watch.

For a long while (30 laps!), Hamilton was leading the way with Alonso and Vettel behind. I thought, well, that's how the race would end. Wrong! Lap 50 came around, Hamilton pitted with another nerve-wrecking McLaren pit stop, and stuck to his 2-stop strategy. I was fully expecting Alonso and Vettel to pit since their tyres' been hustling and need some refreshing. A few more laps and neither pitted, it became clear that Alonso and Vettel were both trying to stick it with those tyres until the end of the race. Haven't they learned the lessons from Raikkonen a few races back? It's a ballsy strategy gamble from the teams, and one of these races it may actually work, but Ferrari and Red Bull got it all wrong for this race.

One teams' wrong call is another teams' gain though. Perez and Grosjean both made the 1-stop strategy work for them and started to climb up the positions at the late part of the race. Red Bull realized quickly by lap 60 that Hamilton is catching Vettel and Alonso fast and furious with fresh tyres and they are now defenseless. Red Bull did the only sensible thing a team can do - bringing in Vettel for new tyres at lap 64 in a 70-lap race. Red Bull is hugely lucky that the pit stop at Montreal is one of the shortest run and they were able to slot Vettel back in near the top. Alas, the damage is done and Vettel can only fight back to pass Alonso to take 4th at lap 69.

Meanwhile, Hamilton took his 1st Grand Prix win of this season with a spectacular drive, with Grosjean and Perez taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. The race was completely unpredictable from the beginning until the very end. Amazing!

In case anyone has any doubt on who should win the Best Post-race hair at Montreal, that special title goes to Perez. His hair didn't look like it's been compressed in a hot helmet for 70 laps at all! And as a Canadian, I'm mildly relieved to see the Montreal grid girls outfit. Short red dress (no weird cutout bits!) with white heels is boring but classy! European Grand Prix grid girls, I hope you bring it in the next race on 6/22-6/24 weekend!

Turning Up The Heat In Montreal


This year's Formula 1 World Championship just got a little hotter after Lewis Hamilton took the win for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team at the Canadian Grand Prix.  This is Lewis' first win of the season, making him the seventh different winner so far; an unprecedented situation in Formula 1. 

Sunday's race was a stark contrast to the previous years where rain delays added a whole new meaning to the word patience.  The bright sun and clear skies made the race a hot one, 109° F (43° C) on the track, a 20°+ jump over the qualifying conditions.  The heat took it's toll on the teams, forcing them to jump quickly from the two different choices of tires to maximize their longevity. The race had a great start with no major collisions on the tight "Senna S" turn in the first few seconds and maintained collision free for a majority of the race.

Vettel lead from pole position and developed a large gap over Hamilton and Alonso, signaling his path to secure the race win with a quick first stint overall. Vettel wore out quickly though, and was forced to pit first out of the front runners, costing him the lead to Hamilton and Alonso.

The tire strategy of McLaren helped edge Hamilton to the lead with a two stop strategy that gave him the right amount of rubber to keep him going to the end.  With Alonso and Vettel struggling to keep the pace of Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Roman Grosjean edged past and climbed to the top and made it to the podium.

This was Grosjean's third podium of the season and Perez's second, adding excitement as the two young drivers are making their mark on the sport.  Hailing from Mexico, Sergio is gaining a large following in the Americas and quickly becoming a star.  The Sauber F1 Team driver has named Circuit of The Americas in Austin his home track, and though an American has yet to re-enter the sport, all eyes are on Perez as he will be the home crowd favorite in Austin.

Following the race, Sergio had this to say about his third place finish:

To be honest, starting 15th the last thing you think about is to end up on the podium. We went quite aggressive, the first stint was quite good, the stop very good, and the second stint very, very good.

Though Ferrari and Red Bull failed to put their drivers on the podium, speculations are that the title race will narrow and turn into a three man competition as the teams get in their groove and things start to settle.  Who those three drivers are is largely still speculation but so far, McLaren is the only team to put both drivers in first position. However, Jensen Button's 16th place finish in Monaco and Canada has many wondering why there is so much contrast between him and his teammate Hamilton, not to mention his ninth position in the drivers championship points puts him well behind his teamate in first place.

Mark Webber's win in Monaco and Vettel's pole position on Saturday made it look like the Red Bull team was back and ready to regain their dominance.  However Sunday's race was likely a big disappointment as both Vettel and Webber were unable to stay at the top and secure a podium finish.  Ferrari was also suffering as Alonso was unable to fight off Grosjean and Perez, and Felipe Massa's spinout early in the race cost him any chance of returning to the top.

We're now a third of the way through the Formula 1 season and it's still hard to make serious predictions about the championship.  Like I suggested a while ago, the inaugural F1USGP in Austin may play host to that championship decision, adding to the excitement and grabbing even more attention around the world.  All I know is that I'm looking forward to the next race as we will hopefully get another new winner for the season; who might that driver be? Your guess is as good as mine.

Race Preview: Canadian Grand Prix

Rain made the 2011 Montreal Grand Prix a complex afternoon and may effect this weekend's race as well
From one French-speaking city to another, two weeks later and a few thousand miles apart, the Canadian Grand Prix is upon us.

What Montreal lacks in glamour, compared to Monaco, is made up with its glorious track. The Canadian Grand Prix is a super fast and flat track, which means we can expect to see a whole lot more takeovers!

So far most of my prediction for every race has fallen flat, so I will stop predicting. All I know is that there've been six different winners for six different races, Red Bull has to cover up those illegal holes on their cars' floors, Hamilton is hungriest of all for a win, Alonso will want to stay in the lead for the Championship, and also as of this moment, no rain is predicted for the race. Oh, one last thing, I have high hopes for the grid girl outfits for Montreal. 

Au revoir for now.  Catch you after the Canadian Grand Prix in the Race Recap!


Known locally as the ‘GPC’, the Grand Prix du Canada takes place on the Ile Notre Dame, a man-made island in the St Lawrence River, due east of the French Canadian city of Montreal. An economic and cultural centre, Montreal has been described variously over the years as an important hub for trade and vital to the international congress and convention scene. Every year since 1978, the parkland venue, subsequently renamed ‘Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’ after Canada’s famous son died in Belgium in 1982, has resounded to a Formula One race, with the notable exception of 2009, when it was dropped unceremoniously from the calendar, public outcry causing its reinstatement the following year.


How do you summarize an amazing four days in a foreign country where you were welcomed by friendly and fun people from around the world and created lifelong memories and friendships? How do you capture the energy and enthusiasm shared with you from people around the world that proclaim their interest and promise in visiting your hometown in the near future? How do you retell the experience of hearing, smelling, seeing and, most importantly, feeling the rush of a Formula One race car only feet (or meters) away in a legendary city at one of the most historic races of recent history?

Perhaps actions do speak louder than words:

Austin, MAKE IT HAPPEN! from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.


For the F1 newbies, you may be asking yourself: Who is this man and why is he standing on a chair commanding the attention and uproar of a crowded pub, nonetheless talking about the Austin City Council?

Well, what had happened was…Will Buxton sent out a tweet inviting his Twitter followers to meet for drinks in Montreal the night before the Canadian Grand Prix. His pals Karun Chandhok and Charlie Whiting* were in attendance, in addition to many other F1 VIPs.

Will's F1 Drinks Tweet

Will is a gregarious and well-respected F1 pit reporter for SPEED TV Channel in the US. We met Will and he immediately shared his informed concern on recent and upcoming Austin City Council agenda items, although he admits he’s not so sure what happens at American city council meetings (and, who does?).

After meeting Will and mingling with F1 fans from around the world (including a lovely and lively bunch from Vancouver who would have come back to Austin with us if we had enough room in our suitcases :), we were moved, yet not terribly surprised at the support everyone shared for making the Austin Grand Prix happen next year.

The pub was jam-packed with outgoing people from around the world. Their common thread: F1 racing. When Kevin and I booked our Montreal tickets six months ago, we saw the importance and opportunity in experiencing a Formula One race close to home and returning to Austin with stories to share. We are *still* mulling over the 5,000 pictures and hours of video shot.

The more and more people Kevin and I met the more inspiring stories we heard and were able to capture. At one point, I went up to Kevin and told him to have his camera ready, just like at April’s Press Conference with Bob Varsha. I asked Will if he would garner the support of the entire pub so we could send a special message back to Austin and the City Council. We shared the plan with F1 fans throughout the pub, and then Will jumped up on a chair and shared his support, which is felt by F1 and racing fans from around the world:





So what is Will talking about? You thought everything was approved since the facility construction is progressing nicely? Even the famed Sutton Images had GREAT progress to report from their visit last week.

There has been a lot happening in Austin lately surrounding the Circuit of the Americas (“COTA”) facility and the subsequent Formula One races, which are scheduled to start on June 17, 2012. The most pressing issue is the upcoming Austin City Council meeting to be held this Thursday, June 23. At this meeting, the City Council will be asked to:

1. Approve a resolution authorizing the City Manager to complete the agreement with the Texas Comptroller and proceed with the Major Events Trust Fund (“METF”) establishment with Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix; and

2. Approve a resolution authorizing the newly created Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee (the “LOC”) to act on the City’s behalf and authorizing #1 above.

Let us first say we recognize how confusing and difficult the Austin City Council and Texas Major Events Trust Fund issues are to navigate. The Austin Grand Prix is made up of Formula One fans, but first and foremost, we are proud and loud fans of the great city of Austin, Texas. We support responsible and sustainable growth and expect all actions surrounding Formula One United States Grand Prix and the Circuit of the Americas to be in the best interests of the city of Austin and its bar none citizens.

That being said, we were pleasantly surprised to read about last week’s revelation that Full Throttle Productions, LP (Tavo Hellmund’s entity promoting the race and the major backer) has decided to front the $4M annual city funds required to access the State of Texas’s METF. This means Austin taxpayer support will be eliminated and COTA would still have access to the METF funds which are generated by tax dollars and specifically set aside for major sporting events. (Note: the METF funds CANNOT be reassigned for other state budget issues, such as education, despite knee-jerk statements made by F1 opponents).**

With your active participation last year, we were able to share your support for F1 with the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioner’s Office and we are asking for your loud voices to be heard again. Now we need your help to follow through on Will’s message to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

1. Share Will’s video with your friends and get people to post comments saying “AUSTIN - MAKE IT HAPPEN!” on the Vimeo video page, at the end of this page, on our Facebook page or send a Tweet to @AustinGrandPrix. Anywhere and everywhere!

2. We have found at least three different electronic petitions started by Austin F1 fan groups that could really use your support. Please take the time to sign each one of them and pass them on to your friends as well. You do not need to live in Austin or even Texas to sign these petitions!

Petition 1

Petition 2

Petition 3

3. As with all of our Calls to Action over the past year, your *personalized* and *individual* messages to Austin City Council members go a long way. I have spoken to Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and he told me he READS EVERY EMAIL! Not his assistant; not someone on his staff; but him personally. I don’t know about you but I have a hard enough time keeping up on email. He has received over 2,000 emails regarding the upcoming June 23 meeting. Can we double that? (Sorry Mike! ;)

The Austin City Council consists of the following respectable individuals:

We suggest you make the subject of your message: “AUSTIN – MAKE IT HAPPEN!” and include a personal message regarding your feelings about F1 in Austin 2012.

4. Attend the City Council meeting this Thursday by following the instructions posted on this page:  Citizen Participation. As mentioned earlier, the Austin City Council will meet at 10:00AM CST this Thursday, June 23 at the Office of the City Clerk, City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street, Suite 1120, Austin, Texas 78701.

5. If you cannot attend this week’s Council meeting, you can watch it live online via the City of Austin’s Channel 6.  Although please be patient, as we had so many viewers tune in once that we crashed the live webcast – whoopsie!

Thank you for seeing this article through to the very end. As with all great things, nothing is simple. We look forward to your support and seeing you in Austin in 2012 – MAKE IT HAPPEN!


*The real Charlie Whiting on Twitter, however the Fake Charlie Whiting IRL (legally).

**This is our very brief summary of the METF issues. Luckily, our friends at the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Business Journal and Austin Chronicle have spent many hours hashing it out (just click on their hyperlinked names).