SEVENTH HEAVEN- A SEASON TO SAVOUR

Seven races. Seven Winners. Really, all we need now is Narain Karthikeyan and Michael Schumacher (same breath, yes) to win a race each, with Mallya’s Force India cars taking two more races- and then we’d truly have an ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ scenario.

  Hamming my way to the top, y’all!  
 
For the first time this season, McLaren Mercedes seem to have got their pit strategy right, and more importantly, their execution wasn’t half bad- which is to say that they still goofed up with the tyres, but were bailed out by Hamilton’s desperate driving style. Rarely does Vettel start on pole position, and end up not being on the podium. Well, 2012 is one of THOSE seasons. Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was the venue, and it was Vettel who stormed to pole over the weekend- with a lap so frighteningly quick that the race seemed like only a mere formality. It was his 32nd pole already, a terrific statistic that has him 4th overall (already!) in the all-time list. Hamilton had mentioned after Saturday qualifying that he’d have to beat the weather and drive a massively perfect race to stand a chance on Sunday.
And he did.

After Vettel failed to get off to his customary start, where he shoots ahead and opens a gap of 5 seconds in the first 3 laps, it was clear that Hamilton was in a car that would hold its own- and as a driver, he wasn’t going to back down. He was the only top gun to not have won a race this season, and despite being on the podium a couple of times, and a big part of the championship race- he wanted to win at Canada, something he hadn’t done since his debut season five years ago. 


 Why This Kolaveri 3? 
 
His over eagerness showed in the pits, as his team tried its hardest to keep him on a two-stop strategy, but he kept pulling away a bit earlier- something that almost cost him the race twice. It was never about Red Bull and Vettel, because they were the first to blink when they decided to switch over to Pirelli’s, forcing Vettel to constantly play catch-up to the real contenders in this race- Alonso and Hamilton. The good old days of McLaren and Ferrari, for once, and no other distractions…until the end.

Round 1 was won by Ferrari, when they timed their first stop to perfection- and had Alonso come out right in front of the Brit. But some brilliant driving, not expected in consistent doses by Hamilton in 2012, coupled with the exciting DRS, saw the Brit carve his way past a frustrated Alonso down the longest straight of the race into turn 13. What his team couldn’t do for him, he decided to do himself- and took his destiny into his own hands, atleast for the time being.


  Naked Protests against proposed tuition hike…or McLaren Win?
 
Not many expected Hamilton to be on the 2-stop plan, least of all his rivals Alonso and Vettel. It was only a matter of time before the Brit reeled them in on lap 62, and from then onward, it was only about who finished behind the determined Brit on the podium. Alonso began to fall back so drastically, that Grosjean in his Lotus and Perez in his Sauber (both impressive this season) managed to go past him- as did Vettel, who even had the time to make another stop.

Finally, it was only seven seconds that separated the top 5- but that didn’t tell half the story, about Hamilton’s backbreaking effort. One must note that the Brit loves playing comeback kid, and rarely wins a race from start to finish. Only when he is faced with insurmountable circumstances and a tough field, he drives his best- as we have often seen him do after starting from the back of the grid to come into the points.

What is surprising about this season is the supposedly more consistent (and more experienced) McLaren driver’s poor showing- Button, struggling so badly that he is now officially in the league of Number 2 drivers. Confused by his own performance, Button cannot understand why he is off the pace every single race- but the answer might lie in the fact that rarely the two drivers simultaneously perform at F1’s most troubled team. This year, could be Hamilton’s.That is not to say that a certain Spaniard might come storming back at Valencia. As I write this, Rafa Nadal is on the brink of another French Open Championship title, and Spain have just kickstarted their  defence of the Euro Cup with a tame draw against Italy. It could be their year, once again.

But then fate- a certain Serb in tennis, a German team in football and a German driver in F1, may have other plans. It’s all about Europe, fittingly so, before the 2012 European Grand Prix. 

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