Friday, June 4, 2010

Canadian Grand Prix Back on Track


This article was first published in the June 4th edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by www.mainstreetweeknews.com to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

Formula 1 racing fans will have something to cheer about in the coming weeks, as the Canadian Grand Prix returns to Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 13th after a one-year absence. Removed from the F1 schedule after the 2008 racing season, the Canadian Grand Prix was the only North American stop on the 19-race circuit. It is an essential marketing tool for the manufacturers, so everyone involved with Formula 1 is pleased to see its return.

While the F1 teams are lacking in Canadian content, there is still plenty for Montreal area race fans to be excited about. After almost imploding last year due to a dispute between the F1 bosses and several of the teams over spending limits and the granting of technical advantages to teams that could limit their spending, F1 appears to be one big happy family again.

Perhaps the biggest storyline in the 2010 racing season is the return of 7-time Drivers’ Champion, Michael Schumacher. No longer driving the famous “prancing horse” of the Ferrari team, Schumacher is at the wheel of a Mercedes for the 2010 season. During his illustrious career, the German driver has captivated F1 fans with his prowess on the track, winning an astounding 91 races in 256 starts. Schumacher retired after the 2006 racing season and while he has yet to return to the podium with Mercedes, he has finished fourth on two occasions this year. He is extremely familiar with the Montreal track, which could lead to an exciting day for his supporters.

At the top of the Drivers’ Championship this year is Australian, Mark Webber. Driving for the Red Bull Racing team, which is powered by Renault engines, Webber has a slight lead in the Championship over England’s Jensen Button (93 points to 88 points). His best finish in Canada was a 5th place in 2005 while driving a Williams-BMW, but the Red Bull car is extremely quick this year (winning two of the last three races), which should make for an exciting showdown at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve between Red Bull Racing, McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari.

Button and his McLaren-Mercedes team are currently first in the Constructors’ Championship (the best overall team performances). A winner in six of the first seven races last season, Button won his first Drivers’ Championship and McLaren-Mercedes brought home the Constructors’ title in 2009. With two wins already under his belt in 2010, Button and teammate Lewis Hamilton (the 2008 Drivers’ Champion) are a very dangerous duo; expect to see one of these two drivers to be on the podium when the race concludes.

In the Formula 1 world, you can never count out the Ferrari cars. Currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, the driving pair of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso bring speed and a vast amount of knowledge to the track every race. Alonso is a two-time Drivers’ Champion and Massa has won 11 races during his career. The legendary Italian cars seem to win on will power alone at times and their reputation as one of the best teams in the history of the sport precedes them. Ferrari has 16 Constructor’s Championships and 15 Drivers’ Championships in their illustrious history.

Of course, when travelling at speeds up to 360 kilometres per hour (220 mph), anything can happen. Add the possibility of inclement weather and my predictions on “who to watch for” could all go out the window, with a driver from the back of the pack stealing the victory at the challenging Montreal racetrack. Regardless of who wins, having Montreal back on the F1 schedule is a victory for Canadian race fans. Have a great sports day everyone.

Photo by iragazzidiredbull on Flickr.com

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