Tag Archive | Montreal

Chilton needed a retirement

Max Chilton crashed out of the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix, his first F1 retirement (Image: Tambeau212)

Max Chilton crashed out of the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix, his first F1 retirement (Image: Tambeau212)

Max Chilton recorded his first ever Formula 1 retirement in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix. It’s probably the most important event that has occurred in his short F1 career thus far.

Chilton has had a monkey on his back for some time now. That monkey has been his reliability. He finished every race of his debut season in 2013 and followed that up by finishing the first six races of 2014 – a run of 25 consecutive race finishes, which is impressive for any driver in Formula 1.

The problem was it became his claim to fame. Chilton was the driver who finished every race. It’s certainly not a problem to finish races. Finishing is essential to results. But finishing is not a result in itself. Winning is a result. Finishing on the podium is a result. Finishing in the points is a result. Finishing ahead of your rivals is a result. Finishing ahead of your team-mate is a result.

While Chilton was notching up his impressive run of race finishes, his team-mate, the ever-impressive Jules Bianchi, was notching up results that displayed his immense promise as a Formula 1 driver. He comprehensively outperformed Chilton in 2013 (the debut season of both drivers) and most recently scored the Marussia team’s first ever points by finishing 9th at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Where do Chilton’s 25 consecutive race finishes rank next to Bianchi’s 2 point in Monaco? Nowhere. Nobody cares that Chilton has been reliable to an unlikely degree. It’s results that count, not race finishes.

And that is why it’s crucial that Chilton had to retire from a race. After 25 consecutive finishes, it’s likely that he felt some pressure to make it to the finish line simply so he could avoid failing to finish. But that’s not the point of racing. Results are the point of racing.

Chilton can now focus on results. He starts with a clean slate at the next round in Austria. It’s a neutral venue, in that it’s not his home race, nor is it the home race of his team or any major partner of his team. There’s no specific pressure. It’s just another race where he gets to go out there and do the best he can with the car his team prepares for him.

Perhaps we’ll see Chilton really start to challenge Bianchi in the near future. Until now, he’s hardly done so. But the freedom that comes with getting that monkey off his back can only do him a great deal of good.

Merc for pole in Canada

Formula One heads to Montreal next week for the Canadian Grand Prix. The city is a favourite for teams and drivers. As Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen says, “The Canadian people are brilliant and there’s a special atmosphere all over Montreal, which we only get at a few races we go to so it’s one of the weekends everyone’s up for.”

The track is characterised by long straights and slow corners, which means high top speed, good traction and low speed grip are crucial. Vitaly Petrov describes the ideal car setup: “There a few things to get right for a really quick lap – you need to manage the brake wear and cooling enough to be able to get on the brakes hard every time you need them,  you have to have very good traction out of the slower corners and you need to be able to really hit the kerbs hard to save the tenths of a second that add to up to a good time.”

With that in mind, Mercedes should be in strong contention for pole position. Rosberg and Schumacher have each topped the times in qualifying once this season, showing that the car is quick. The Mercedes engine is the most powerful on the grid, which provides high top speed on the long straights in Montreal. The unique DRS system on the W03 will even further increase acceleration and straight-line speed during qualifying. Stability in low-speed corners was evident in Monaco, where Schumacher was quickest in qualifying, and Rosberg finished second in the race. The Mercedes showed good traction out of the final chicane at the Spanish Grand Prix, and also demonstrated an ability to ride the kerbs well.

The weakness of the Mercedes is a slight lack of downforce in high-speed corners. In Canada, there aren’t any high-speed corners. All of the circuit characteristics suit the Silver Arrows.

Schumacher’s best result since returing to Formula One came at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth after running as high as second in changing weather conditions. The German multiple world champion will be hoping to go at least one better than that this year, to achieve the first podium of his second career. But before that, he and his team-mate Nico Rosberg will be aiming for pole position. They have the car to do it.

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