Canada round often goes to hot hand

June, 8, 2011

In 2010, Lewis Hamilton converted a win in Turkey into a victory at Canada, a race that featured over 60 pit stops and exciting action throughout the field.

McLaren appeared to be at the top of its game, and with that victory Hamilton vaulted to the top of the standings with teammate Jenson Button a close second.

Hamilton, the 2008 champion, was certainly not the first to ride momentum to a win in Montreal. In reality, the past eight races at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve have stressed a solid performance in the race immediately prior on the schedule.

Only once in those eight events has a race winner not finished on the podium in the previous event. That was in 2005 with Kimi Raikkonen, who was leading on the final lap of the European Grand Prix before his suspension broke.

The Canadian track is located on a picturesque man-made island and posses several dangers. The circuit is relatively narrow and is lined with walls mere feet from the pavement.

The final chicane is very tricky, and a slight mistake can send even the best of drivers into the Wall of Champions. The first bend causes headaches on the opening laps, as Felipe Massa and Vitantonio Liuzzi can attest to from last year.

Already this season, Sebastian Vettel has gone from tied for the 27th most wins in F1 history to equaling Hamilton in 15th. With another victory, Vettel would match Stirling Moss, one of F1's legendary drivers. Vettel has won seven of the past eight races, arguably the best eight-race stretch in F1 history, considering his other finish was second in China.

Most impressive is that he's won in several fashions this season. While he cruised to victory at places such as Australia, he was tested considerably in Spain and Monaco. A younger Vettel may have given those races away, but he's come a long way in a very short amount of time.

A midpack driver to keep an eye on this weekend may just be Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.

He crossed the line eighth here last year in an outdated machine and said he believes this year's event will feature easier overtaking because of the Drag Reduction System on the cars -- essentially an adjustable rear wing -- as he explained on Red Bull's official website.

"The DRS is going to work immediately, and with that 10-15 kph extra, you're going to be able to pass easily, on the inside or the outside," he said. "So far, we've seen that DRS works best on a circuit with a very long straight, like China or Turkey. The back straight in Canada is like that."

Montreal will feature two DRS areas, so overtaking will likely be abundant Sunday.

Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher is no doubt struggling this year, collecting just 14 points through six events.

He's behind his pace from last season (he had 22 through the same number of races), but Canada is arguably his strongest track among all active venues.

His seven victories here are second most by a driver at one track in F1 history, behind only his eight wins in France. While a win seems like a distant goal, a solid finish for the seven-time champion is not out of the question. At this point in his return, it is badly needed.

Elsewhere, the 2011 schedule is experiencing a bit of a shakeup, at least for now.

Bahrain has been reinstated on the calendar, taking India's Oct. 30 date. That means India's race may take place on Dec. 11, which would be the first F1 event in December since 1963.

As it stands, the final two dates in 2011 are already two of the five latest ever to be held in the series. The only events to occur later are races in South Africa in 1962 and 1963 and an event at Sebring on Dec. 12, 1959.

Nothing about the change is certain yet, and there is the possibility Bahrain could be scrapped altogether.



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