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McLaren leave Canada on a high, says Martin Brundle

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton

Canadian Grand Prix in 90 seconds

By Martin Brundle
BBC F1 analyst

The Canadian Grand Prix was a riot of race - we thought it might be and we weren't disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed all the action in Montreal.

We didn't have the safety car, which enlivened the action in Monaco, but the softer option tyres - which were described by Red Bull boss Christian Horner as "made of cheese" - certainly made for a great race.

I don't want to beat up on Bridgestone because the company does a stunning job for Formula 1 and it is forced by the regulations to bring two compounds to each race, one of which is often not ideal. And for the first time we saw a big difference between the tyres.

One factor which made it such a dream race for winners McLaren was that the harder compound 'prime' tyres did not last anywhere near as well as expected.

Under hot track temperatures, with high fuel loads and drivers under pressure, those tyres wilted and this had two effects.

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First of all, the drivers on the soft tyres, including the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, peeled off into the pit road as early as lap six.

At this point Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were up front in a one-two, lapping in one minute 21 seconds and seemingly looking very smart having chosen to qualify - and therefore start - on the primes.

They could have been expected to march on for 25 laps, build a comfortable gap, and seal another glorious one-two.

But, critically, the traffic which Hamilton, Button, Alonso and Co would normally have encountered after such an early stop had also pitted much earlier than expected. In clear air and now on fresh versions of the tyres Red Bull started the race on, they could lap in the 1 min 20 sec bracket.

Vettel couldn't understand why he pitted from the lead and then came out fifth and he even had to ask on the radio if he needed to pass the cars in front, so sure was he that they were on a different strategy.

Red Bull's tyres were also faring worse than expected and they were forced into an earlier stop to try to cover the McLarens and Alonso, with Webber moving on to prime tyres on lap 13 and Vettel a lap later.

They had a split strategy, but neither really worked. Red Bull didn't mess up; it was just the way the dice rolled on the day.

However, if Kamui Kobyashi's Sauber had remained in the wall at the last corner of the first lap instead of driving off, the resulting safety car could well have thrown up an entirely different result.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso

Hamilton and Alonso battle in pits

Webber was going to slot back in fifth place after his second stop whatever the team did. The conspiracy theorists who believe Red Bull favour Vettel will say that was to disadvantage him but it was simply a gamble on how the team thought the tyres would go and the pattern of traffic.

It was curious that, once in for fresh soft tyres, Webber wasn't particularly fast and Red Bull were further hampered by a gearbox problem for Vettel.

McLaren won the race from pole position fair and square in Canada, whereas they inherited their one-two in Turkey. The result of the two races is that, with 50 points in two weeks, Hamilton now sits at the top of the standings.

The McLarens were helped by Webber getting a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change but both their drivers had good starts and the team backed it up with strong reliability.

Hamilton drove an extremely mature race and that became even more apparent at the end when we thought Button and Alonso were taking a run at his lead.

He said he was cruising but then he had to get back on it and, having saved the tyres, laid down a couple of fast laps which showed Button and Alonso that they were dreaming.

Earlier in the race he had sensibly yielded to Alonso in a side-by-side pit-lane exit fight when the Ferrari had the inside line, instead of trying to brave it out round the outside as he might have done in the past.

He saved his attacking for a great pass on Alonso into the final chicane to seize an important initiative.

Meanwhile, Button put his hand up after the race and said: "I'm really happy with second because my team-mate is awesome around here."

He sealed the one-two because Karun Chandhok's Hispania was in the way in Turn Seven and this significantly slowed Alonso down.

The Spaniard didn't want to go round the outside because the wall there seemed to be a car magnet and so Button used his momentum to breeze past Alonso into the Turn Eight braking zone.

McLaren have really seized the initiative and we know how well they can develop a car as the season unfolds.

Alonso was pleased to be on the podium compared to his disappointing performance in Turkey but he made the point that he should have won the race.

He was also caught up behind Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso when Hamilton passed and his not unreasonable conclusion was that "we gave away 10 points".

There were so many wheel-to-wheel incidents; backmarkers getting in the way and clumsy errors.

First corner chaos in Montreal GP

First corner chaos in Montreal GP

The pack had not even come out of Turn Two before we had had four cars making contact.

I thought Tonio Liuzzi was impressive despite his first-corner accident and it was good to see Force India up there with two cars in the points.

Robert Kubica was as strong as ever for Renault while Nico Rosberg was quietly effective for Mercedes, though I can't say the same for the other Silver Arrow.

I said in the BBC post-race forum that it was the worse race I had ever seen Michael Schumacher drive. I know he was struggling with tyre grip but so was everyone else, His race craft and respect for other drivers was poor to say the least.

Roll on Valencia in two weeks' time, although I'm afraid we shouldn't expect so much excitement there.



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see also
Hamilton relishes title challenge
13 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Mixed reactions from Red Bull duo
13 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher escapes Massa penalty
13 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Superb Hamilton wins in Montreal
13 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Canadian GP as it happened
13 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Canadian Grand Prix photos
13 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher focused on next year
11 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Red Bull facing a civil war
31 May 10 |  Formula 1


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