Canadian GP What a washout!
WE ARE SAILING: Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull ploughs through the water before the 2011 Candian F1 GP was suspended. Image: AFP
Montreal – As time, and the crowds, started to trickle away from the 2011 Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix, the questions were still hanging over Lewis Hamilton’s collision with team mate Jenson button and a number of other incidents.
By 20:45 SA time the rain was still pouring like a tropical monsoon over the St Lawrence Seaway, plastic sheeting covered a number of cars and one team even had a prefabricated tent over its machinery.
Giant brush machines were fighting with the swelling flood across the track and everywhere dejected technicians, drivers and pit crews were staring balefully at the sky.
HALTED AFTER 25 LAPS
It didn’t look like it was going to let up and chances were the race would be abandoned. How that would pan out for positions and points was still to be decided.
The race was halted after only 25 of the scheduled 70 laps with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in the lead. The cars were ordered to form up in race order on the starting grid and teams took immediate action to waterproof their cars and do whatever race maintenance was possible.
It was the first race of the 2011 season to be hit by severe bad weather and FIA race director Charlie Whiting was said by Red Bull manager Christian Horner to have “done the right thing” by stopping the action.
"In conditions like these,” Horner said, “the drivers are just passengers. The water picks the car up, they've got no drive and an accident is so easy to have, especially with the walls so close".
HAMILTON IN TROUBLE
Sliding and correcting and then sliding again became the race order; standing pools made things impossible and eventually Sebastian Vettel radioed from the front: “The track is just undriveable.”
The race organisers listened. The race was stopped.
Little, however, can stop Lewis Hamilton when the lights go out and eventually he and team mate Jenson Button collided; Hamilton said he had the track advantage, Button said he didn’t see the Englishman coming up along his left side.
“What’s he doing?” bleated Button over the team radio.
It was a second successive controversial race for the 26-year-old Hamilton. At the 2011 Monaco GP two weeks earlier he was penalised for collisions with Felipe Massa of Ferrari and Pastor Maldonado of Williams.
Afterwards he criticised the stewards in an outburst during a TV interview in which he jokingly suggested, with a reference to the comic character Ali G, that he was being victimised because he was black.
Nobody thought it was funny and he apologised to the other drivers and the stewards and wrote a letter of apology to the FIA.
Meanwhile, at Montreal, the rain was still falling... and the end of the worldwide TV window was approaching.
Would there be time for more racing...?