ATLAS F1   Volume 6, Issue 25 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1   The Formula One Insider

MONTREAL – where Canada Dry is just a drink by Mitchell McCann, U.S.A.


I know the atmosphere in Montreal was sadly lacking this year but I promise that I'll be there next year. For the first time since '95, I had to forgo my annual pilgrimage to Canada and content myself with watching it on the box. On the upside, I am now sitting comfortably in front of my computer instead of being half way along the Pont de la Concord with a protesting taxi driver's blockade to negotiate in the unlikely event that I reach my car before midnight. Even better news, is the $500 that's still in my pocket instead of Bernie's (he's sent me a bill anyway – I'm thinking of not paying it!). And last but not least, this is the first Canadian GP I've seen for years without half a glass of Molson down the back of my shirt.

As qualifying started I settled back into my recliner in lazy anticipation of the entertainment to come before leaping to my feet yelling "THAT'S MY SEAT! THAT'S MY SEAT!" Fortunately, this behavior soon abated and by the end of the session I was content to merely mumble: "It is my seat, y'know" as the cars passed grandstand 11. Finally, half way through qualifying, the session actually began with Nick Heidfeld taking to the track to prove to Minardi that they can't always be first, although of course both the Minardis and the Prosts are more than capable of always not being first.

As the cars waded through the plastic bags, empty beer cups and lumps of discarded smoked meat, I was reminded of the common American impression that Canada is a very clean country. This is of course true, due in no small part to the fact that they use the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as a giant trash barrel. By the time that Verstappen made an impression, it was really pretty hard to justify the $100 fine he received for littering. And talking of Holland's gift to the CrashCam, I wonder if the Dutch beer company Oranjeboom ever considered a personal sponsorship deal for Jos – in fact, now that I think of it, I wonder if they provide the contents of his drink bottle.

Following an exciting end to qualifying, as Tom Walkinshaw tried to get the keys to the team bus away from his number 1A driver, we were treated to the bi-weekly debacle of the post qualifying press conference. While watching this waste of electromagnetism, one should never forget that all stupid questions will be answered with mock shock and frank incredulity and, should a good question ever slip through, nobody will ever answer it.


OK, so that's not exactly the latest breaking story but, according to Peter Windsor (and there is of course nothing like getting your information third hand), Bernie Ecclestone is set to assume some of the FIA's responsibilities with regard to the technical and administrative side of F1. Once these powers have been successfully assimilated, Bernie will take on full responsibility for wiping Max's nose and making sure he goes to the toilet before leaving the house. Of course, quite why the hand that rocks the cradle would want to be king, I don't know but apparently money, power and twice as much sex as you could possibly want are not all they're cracked up to be.


Or not.


OK, so Herbert retired, the other Jag was 3 laps down, McLaren bumbled to a combined 3 points, Button fought a losing battle with Mazzacane all day and Damon Hill didn't get out of bed until noon but Alan Shearer made it all alright! (Doubly so coz I'd have been really pissed if I'd paid $20 for pay-per-view to watch them lose). I just hope Michael Schumacher isn't a soccer fan (he-he).


Many years ago, my Dad paid for my driving lessons rather than let me practice on the gearbox of his Austin 1600. After just a few lessons and a new clutch, I'd even mastered the subtle art of hill starts to the point that half the time I'd remember to take the handbrake off even before I'd reached 4th gear. Somehow, this skill still eludes some of the world's top drivers. There's either something very wrong with F1 cars or with F1 drivers. Now I know that there's a big difference between the Vauxhall Cavalier that I so swiftly mastered and the McLaren MP4-15, but I also know that Top Fuel dragsters take off a damn sight quicker than F1 cars and I've never seen one of them stall. Blow up, yes, but not stall (more of Prost later). I have no idea of the technicalities of this subject but isn't there one person in the McLaren design team smart enough to make up for a stupid driver?

As for the rule, David, I don't think it's a particularly stupid one to insist that nobody be standing in the middle of the front straight as 22 cars go past at 200 mph. Maybe that's just me but I remember seeing a mechanic caught between the back of a stationary F1 car and the front of a moving one. I don't really want to see it again.

Yes, it was a damn shame that a penalty for a 'technicality' ruined what would otherwise have been an exciting race between the top two drivers in the championship but for once I can't complain. Well I can, if I put my mind to it. Perhaps if McLaren didn't have Olivier "what do you mean they're still red" Panis doing their testing for them they'd be able to devise a better system for starting. (OK, that's a stretch but I get complaints if I'm not pissed off enough).

Actually, the worst thing about the start, apart from DC being a bonehead, was Villeneuve's launch control. His now familiar spring from nowhere to right in the bloody way ensured that this race was over before it began. As Schumacher and Coulthard pulled away from the JV parade with everybody in the world but the commentators saying "Isn't that against the rules?" it quickly became clear that, barring the appearance of the ghost of Ferrari past, this was going to be a cakewalk for Schumacher.

Back in the pack there was plenty of action, drama and stupidity but up at the front it was just miles of smiles. De la Rosa drove like a race driver and I want to know if these Arrows are getting weighed after races. In his first stint, he passed Frentzen and was making a far more serious effort to attack Hakkinen than Mika was on Barrichello. And in the OranjeBOOM Arrows, Verstappen proved that he has raised his art to such a level that when he misses the braking point for a corner, the car behind him spins. Or maybe it's just that, recent evidence to the contrary, DC is still a parade-lap-stalling, pitwall-hitting, teammate-spearing bonehead.

Heidfeld came in for his routine "Is it on fire yet?" stop but his pitcrew lied to him. As the Prost slowly burned in splendid isolation at the end of the pitlane it occurred to me, what would the course workers take with them to attend to a burning Prost? Marshall-mallows! Yeah, I know, if this was print I wouldn't have bothered but its only electrons.

Flavio Briatore stepped in something, probably a pile of cash, on the way to the track and proved that it's better to be lucky than good. Which is just as well because Benetton certainly aren't good. Seriously, that was a pretty good strategy to run with as much fuel as possible in the hope of catching the rain before they stopped. Conversely, in the McLaren garage, just as Coulthard pulled away from his stop, their budding meteorologist (he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up), stuck his hand out of the window and yelled: "It's raining, Ron!"

So what have we learned this week? DC needs a gift certificate to BSM, Hakkinen is clearly just as motivated to win his third championship as he was his first and Jos can actually, on occasion, given the right setup and a good stiff belt of Oranjeboom, drive a little bit. (But don't tell anybody I said that).


I wasn't serious about Montoya.

Yes I was.

Mitch McCann© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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