Relentless pace and aggression from Vettel and Alonso in Canada and tyres that lasted
Sky F1's Martin Brundle ponders who is currently the top man in F1, explains why he was impressed by Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul Di Resta and looks at 2013's under-performing teams.
By Martin Brundle. Last Updated: 11/06/13 9:27am
I'd love to know beyond doubt how Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel would compare right now in the same car. Their performances in the Canadian GP were sensational; pure relentless pace and aggression.
I think Vettel would just ace it all things considered, and he still has plenty of time to develop further. The Vettel/Red Bull combo simply dominated the race in a crushing display. He was pushing his luck up against the walls and even across the turn one run-off zone when it appeared he could otherwise coast to victory.
I was very surprised when he said to me post-race that he didn't know that he'd touched the infamous turn four wall. His turn one excursion appeared to be lack of concentration, such that he handled returning to the track quite poorly as if he didn't really believe it. On either adventure he could easily have collected a puncture or slight car damage. A 'lucky kiss' as Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali respectfully called it.
As usual Red Bull were trying to stop him from taking risks to achieve fastest lap, even reminding him on the radio about Monaco '88, not a race he was in of course, but Aryton Senna was - for a while. In the end Mark Webber stole that accolade, in his satisfyingly mischievous way, despite a front wing devoid of several elements.
The dogged Alonso simply demanded and seized the 'best of the rest' award. If only he could qualify better, and that can't all be down to the car. He's almost always in recovery mode for the first few laps and this generates risks as he found out in Malaysia, and critical time loss. His pursuit of Hamilton and his wheel-to-wheel precision and aggression was simply great to witness.
The race was just the kind of ideal scenario I've been talking about recently. In other words, pretty much flat-out racing but where the number of pit stops and tyre choice is difficult to predict, and where there is a significant difference between the performance of the two mandatory tyre compounds. With only four available compounds to handle every track and ambient condition through any given season this can't always be perfect, but Pirelli got it right in Montreal, and with no tyre delaminations either.
As ever Lewis Hamilton was strong, and I also appreciated the fine drives by Force India's Paul Di Resta, my driver of the race, and Jean Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso. Di Resta covered 58 hard and fast laps on his first set of tyres including the heavy fuel load stage of course. Others were struggling to achieve half of that and a double points finish for the team on their 100th appearance was due reward.
Lotus continue to have a miserable phase in terms of both qualifying and racing, and even reliability in the form of brake problems for Kimi. It's been a brutal couple of races for Kimi's Championship hopes, even if he does set a new record for 24 consecutive points finishes. They need a great run in Silverstone.
McLaren have normally been supreme at this circuit but they left with no points despite both cars finishing. It appears that they need a very stiff suspension set up to help the aero performance and the car looks poor over the bumps and in the traction zones. These are dark days for the team and there's no point directing resource and energy into the 2014 car until they can understand this one.
Valtteri Bottas outshone his car in qualifying but even so I was surprised to see how rapidly he dropped back through the field in his Williams. It's confusing to see Williams and Sauber struggling so much after such a strong 2012 and with apparently few changes to the technical regulations this year. There'll be some very tense and heavy meetings in several teams this week.
Not least of course Mercedes as they prepare for the tribunal around their Pirelli test using the 2013 car. That is going to be fascinating and we're in for a few surprises as the parties state their cases. My guess is that Mercedes have seen an opportunity and made a judgement call while interpreting the situation in a way which very much suited them.
They are not stupid people and without doubt they will present their perception of mitigating circumstances. I don't believe it can be perceived as devious or underhand cheating to be out on track for three days with the official tyre supplier, but I suspect they will be seen to have broken the testing rules and will take some significant pain.
They weren't smart, however, with plain crash helmeted race drivers and keeping very quiet about the whole thing.
We know well by now that F1 is a super-expensive soap opera with great motor sport action as a welcome bonus, and the inevitable sub plots in this case to settle old scores and position for the future will be fascinating to watch.
Ross Brawn suggested to me, before the season started and other scenarios developed, that he had two options regarding the next phase of his life. The first was reasonably short term and the second shorter still. I don't expect that to have changed and hopefully he can move on when he's ready.
Tragically, the weekend ended with the terribly sad news that a track marshal died after an accident at the circuit on Sunday night. The marshals are there to protect us and an essential part of every event; without race marshals there wouldn't be any motorsport. My thoughts go out to his family.