This weekend a year ago we saw the last of Jacques Villeneuve in Formula 1. The German Grand Prix in Hockenheim on July 30, 2006 was his last race. He crashed out and it did not take long for BMW Sauber to sack him. It did not as much of a surprise as BMW seemed to be looking for a way to get rid of him since the moment they took over Sauber operation. He was not the most loved guy on the grid but he was a world champion and he made his mark on F1. His F1 career is well documented, so all I do here is very brief recap.
The potential replacement for Christijan Albers was probably the most discussed race seat in past 2 weeks. Spyker took their time and then named Marcus Winkelhock as the replacement, but very likely for European GP only. There were several other names discussed, the top favourites being van der Garde (Dutch with money), Klien (available and with racing experience) and Karthikeyan (racing experience with money). Now more names were added, like Nelson Piquet Jr and Nico Hulkenberg, but both apparently rejected the chance to bury their future prospects in Spyker. All of a sudden out of nowhere Sakon Yamamoto appears as an alleged favourite for the seat.
The driver rumours do not end at Spyker though. Next come Toro Rosso, Renault, Williams, Toyota and even McLaren.
After 2 weeks break we are headed for another race weekend. Montreal track is a mixture of a street circuit and permanent road course pretty much in the city. It is a low downforce track with several chicanes and slow corners with several overtaking opportunities. Moreover the walls and barriers are never too far away. This is the right mix for exciting race.
We should not forget the famous Wall Of Champions, that became known as such after 1998 race when 3 world champs ended up on it (Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher).
Ferrari won here 6 times in last 10 years (all wins by Michael Schumacher), but also recorded 5 second places and 4 third places. However their last win came in 2004.
The qualifying results and the grid positions did not help much to make this race predictable. McLarens are still behind Ferrari on the race distance, but they can match them pretty closely on one lap pace. Both Alonso and Hamilton are pretty good starters. So we had 4 very closely matched cars close together on the grid and the order after 1st corner could have been any combination Ferraris and McLarens.
Massa still has the Sepang start fresh in his memory and good for him. Alonso probably knew his only on track overtaking chance will come in the first corner and he went for it.
Massa fastest, setting unofficial lap record of the track. This time followed by both Renaults. That’s how the winter testing ended. Bring on the races !
For the record in Barcelona – Williams faster than Spyker and that is probably the only thing that can be concluded from the result of that test.