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Canada 2008 - the Montreal pit-lane debacle 12 Jun 2010

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 retired from the race and Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW30 hit him at the end of the pit lane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari remonstrate at the end of the pitlane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 The McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 of race retiree Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 Chaos in the pit lane as confusion over the lights leads to Hamilton hitting the back of  Raikkonen

As the paddock returns to Montreal for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, two Formula One stars - and one former driver now busy rallying - will be trying to shake off a memory from when they were last racing on the city’s Ile Notre Dame, back in June 2008.

For that trio - and most on the sidelines - the sight of three battered and bruised cars embarrassingly wedged together at the end of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve pit lane one that will forever be hard to forget.

Nineteen laps previously McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had expertly sprung from his pole position into the lead of the race, leaving second-on-the-grid Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber to fend off the encroaching Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen. On Lap 17, however, the safety car was deployed so marshals could clear away Adrian Sutil’s Force India, which had succumbed to gearbox problems.

In a blink, Hamilton’s lead was neutralised and as the first round of pit stops got underway, he, Kubica and Raikkonen pulled into the pits simultaneously. McLaren decided to go heavy with fuel, and after Hamilton’s longer stop, he swept out of his pit box behind Raikkonen and Kubica, who were at that moment embroiled in a battle for P1 down the pit lane.

Soon after, however, disaster struck. Focusing no doubt on how to regain the lead over the next few laps, Hamilton didn’t notice that both Kubica and Raikkonen had stopped for a red light at the pit exit. As his McLaren headed back on track, he realised too late and his car ran right into the back of the Finn’s Ferrari.

The resulting damage was enough to rule them both out of the race, but was then compounded by the Williams of Nico Rosberg subsequently piling into the rear of Hamilton’s MP4-24. Although Rosberg was able to rejoin the race, pitting for a new nose a lap later, his promising fourth-place position was to become a disappointing 10th-place finish. All that was left for Raikkonen and Hamilton to do was to heatedly discuss what had happened, and look dejectedly at their ruined cars.

In the post-race aftermath, Hamilton couldn’t hide his despair: "Before my pit stop, everything looked on course for the perfect result: we were so quick, we were breezing it in fact. It wasn't a great pit stop - and, as I exited the box, I saw two cars jostling for position ahead of me in the pit lane. Obviously, I didn't want to get involved in their tussle, and was trying not to do so, and then all of a sudden they stopped. And by the time they'd come to a halt, it was too late for me to avoid them.”

A resentful Raikkonen, however, was less understanding. "There's not much I can say,” he said. “My race was ruined by Hamilton's mistake. Obviously, anyone can make mistakes, but it's one thing to make a mistake at 200 mph but another to hit a car stopped at a red light. I am not angry because that doesn't achieve anything and does not change my result! I am unhappy, because I had a great chance of winning.”

In stark contrast to the misery of Raikkonen and Hamilton, Kubica was over the moon. After narrowly avoiding the same fate as the Finn, the BMW Sauber driver cruised to the finish line to clinch the team’s, his own, and his home country of Poland’s maiden Formula One win. With team mate Nick Heidfeld joining him on the podium in second and with a four-point lead in the championship secured, there was much to celebrate.

“I'm very happy at having won the first race for BMW Sauber,” Kubica exclaimed. “I'm also happy for Poland and all my fans. I stopped at the exit because the light was still red. Kimi stopped beside me, and then I heard the noise when Hamilton crashed into his car. I have to be grateful to Lewis as he chose Kimi and not myself. But it all worked out and I'm just happy!"

The aftermath for Hamilton - and indeed for Rosberg - was less rosy. Following a stewards’ investigation, the duo were both handed 10-place grid penalties for the next round. For both, and for Raikkonen, it remains a weekend to forget.