This is a very strange feeling; it’s gone 10pm and the Formula 1 press conference has just finished. And that strange feeling will be joining the other mix of emotions that F1 has put me through today – frustration, anger, despair, and complete and utter joy. It’s been exhausting, frankly.
I still have no idea why the race was started under the safety car. I’ve seen lots of F1 races started in wet conditions and many of those were much worse than it was today, so it’s mystifying to me. Even more confusing was the decision to bring the safety car out just because it started raining. These are some of the greatest drivers in the world, they don’t need to be slowed down because the conditions have changed, they can work that out themselves.
Obviously, the conditions got really bad a few laps later – when the safety should actually have appeared – and the race was stopped. Part of me wanted the race to end at the this point. Vettel is a great driver and he seems a likeable sort of guy, but you can only have so much luck before I start to dislike you. Yes, he’s won a lot on his own back, but far too much good fortune has gone Red Bull’s way this year and it’s definitely helped at times – Monaco being a great example.
That said, I was looking forward to seeing some racing once we knew it was going ahead and despite things conspiring against Jenson Button again, he managed to find himself near the front and with great pace. Hope was rising. I’ve said a many, many times this year that Vettel needs someone to challenge him; a driver of his calibre doesn’t make a mistake in the race while they aren’t under any pressure.
Thankfully, what the red flags may have taken away from us in Monaco, the wet conditions gave us in Montreal. I never expected Button to make it passed Vettel with pure aggression – I don’t think he has that much aggression in him – but he certainly had enough pace to push Vettel all the way…and evidently over the limit. There wasn’t any doubt that my passion for F1 is back, but I surprised myself by jumping out of my seat and screaming when Button finally passed him, obviously made that much sweeter by the fact that it was the last lap.
That mistake showcased exactly why we don’t want safety cars on the track just because it’s wet: these conditions multiply the pressure placed on the best drivers and punish a lapse in concentration or a desperate desire to get that extra tenth of a second – it brings the best out in every driver. The safety argument is absolute nonsense – crashes in wet conditions are often at a fraction of the speed of those in dry conditions and the cars are capable of keeping the drivers safe at those speeds.
There is still a good chance that the FIA will ruin Button’s race by penalising him for the obvious racing incident with Alonso, or the moment of madness with Hamilton. I’d like to think they will do the sensible thing and take the conditions into account on the first incident though: if he had seen Hamilton, it’s unlikely he decided to block his obviously faster team-mate and push him into a wall. I honestly don’t see how they could punish him for the second incident, as he clearly had the racing line at the point of impact and there was very little he could. I have very little faith in them though.
I’m obviously delighted that the race ended on such a high, but I’m a little disappointed that this will no doubt overshadow any liability the FIA need to take for essentially ruining any competitive element of racing before the restart. No more safety car starts, please.
Incidentally, it actually was the longest Grand Prix of all time. According to Jake Humphrey, anyway.