Two-stop strategy just enough to give Ferrari the edge
A superb tactical race saw Michael Schumacher clinch his seventh Canadian Grand Prix win in Montreal this afternoon. The Ferrari star came from sixth on the grid to finish a second ahead of brother Ralf, who scored his best result of the season with Williams.
It was also Michael Schumachers 77th Grand Prix triumph and his seventh of the season, yet for a while it seemed that the laurels would go to Ralf.
The younger German sprinted into the lead from pole position, from Jenson Button , Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen (who so nearly got by Michael in Turn 1) and Rubens Barrichello. But behind them Jarno Trullis race ended as he left the startline with a suspected suspension failure accelerating away. When the field got to the first corner, Christian Kliens attempt to nip inside David Coulthard ended with the Austrian spinning the Scots McLaren, and then his Jaguar landing on team mate Mark Webbers.
On the sixth lap Barrichello passed Raikkonen, but we had to wait for the first pit stops for further action. Coulthard refuelled on lap 11, Raikkonen on lap 12. Button and Montoya came in on lap 13, Ralf on lap 15, and Alonso on lap 17, so by lap 18 Michael had moved smoothly ahead. How long the red cars stayed out would be crucial, but against expectations Barrichello refuelled as soon as lap 18 and Schumacher on 19.
Now Ralf led again with Button pushing hard, and Montoya chasing along between the two following Ferraris. When Button, Montoya and Ralf all refuelled before the 33rd lap, Schumacher was back in the lead with a clearly faster Barrichello breathing down his neck. The Brazilian didnt stop until lap 44, but Michael went even longer. When he finally came in on lap 47 it was clear that Ferrari had suckered everyone with a two-stop strategy instead of their rivals three. By the time everything settled down again after Ralf stopped on lap 47 and Button and Montoya pitted on lap 49, Michael was still leading comfortably from Ralf, and Barrichello was back ahead of Button and Montoya. Alonsos race ended with a mechanical failure at the start of the 45th lap, making this the first time this year that Renault have failed to finish a car.
Schumacher consolidated his lead as everyone else seemed to lose heart, opening it to 10 seconds before letting Ralf close within a second by the finish. Barrichello also caught Ralf, while Button and Montoya provided the final excitement as the Colombian was less than a second adrift of the Briton by the flag.
Further back an electronics problem lost Kimi Raikkonen sixth place to Giancarlo Fisichella when the Finn had to pit on lap 61 for a new steering wheel. Cristiano da Matta clung on for eighth and another point for Toyota, ahead of the delayed Coulthard who had a frustrating afternoon, and team mate Olivier Panis. Nick Heidfeld lost time when a refuelling stop on lap 21 went awry and he knocked over one of his Jordan pit crew (who was unhurt), so debutant team mate Timo Glock headed his fellow countryman home in 11th place. Klien and Zsolt Baumgartner completed the finishers.
Takuma Sato had a terrible afternoon, starting from the pit lane after taking the spare BAR, narrowly avoiding involvement in the first corner fracas, spinning in front of the leading Ferraris while challenging da Matta, and finally suffering another major engine failure on lap 49.
Felipe Massa was unhurt, but taken to hospital for a precautionary X-ray on his left elbow, after a high-speed shunt on the 65th lap caused, it appeared, by a detached left rear wheel on his Sauber.
This was a very satisfying win, and one that I owe to the team and its fantastic work, Schumacher said afterwards. We planned this race very carefully, and I am delighted that all our work paid off so handsomely. I couldnt have asked for more.
The win gives the apparently unstoppable Schumacher 70 points to Barrichellos 52 and Buttons 43, while Ferrari have 122 points, Renault 61 and BAR 51.