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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.

Fancy a Chat with David Coulthard? Yes, Please.

The Good News: We had a great chat with David Coulthard on the streets of Austin just minutes after he jumped out of the Red Bull Racing F1 Show Car on August 20! He had fantastic things to say about his visit to Austin and also shared insight into how the F1 world, including drivers and teams, are revolutionizing communication via social media.

The Not-So-Good News: We lost our microphone and audio equipment in Montreal and the sound is horrible at some points in the conversation :(

The Redeeming News: The sound improves halfway through the interview, and we caught DC off guard at the end of the interview when having him tell y'all to COME AND RACE IT!