From joy to despair


By Lee McKenzie

Formula 1 can provide all the riches in the world, but sometimes it is a cruel friend. One weekend you are on top of the world, the next you are in the wall. One lap you believe you can be on the podium, the next you are in a frightening high-speed smash.

It can also be a good leveller, reminding anyone who thinks they are perfectly in control of a situation that you can never be too sure.

Monaco two weeks ago was the highest moment in the Marussia team’s short life. Its first points were scored by Jules Bianchi, a young gun with lots of ammunition. His team-mate Max Chilton might not have scored points, but he had been on an incredible run, seeing the chequered flag in every one of the 25 F1 races in which he had competed. The atmosphere couldn’t have been better within the team.

That was until lap one on Sunday. Both drivers blame each other for the ensuing carnage, which brought out a safety car for around 10 per cent of the Grand Prix. More crucial for Marussia, though, is the expense, with both cars left in a pretty bad way after the accident.

Lewis Hamilton turned up to his Canadian playground certain that he could get his fourth victory in Montreal. But on Saturday Nico Rosberg took control of the toys, leaving Hamilton unsettled, but ready to win. At the stage where his brakes gave in he was certainly on the march. Instead he was hit by his second DNF of the season.

Even Rosberg couldn’t enjoy counting down the laps as his ailing Mercedes dropped in power by 160hp – like Hamilton’s had – which also made him untrusting of the brakes which were under even more pressure after the hybrid failure. Eventually, not unsurprisingly, he dropped from first to second.

It was still impressive that Rosberg could coerce the sick Silver Arrow around, but afterwards told me it was the most nerve-wracking race he had driven in. Rosberg did increase his lead in the championship, but the Mercedes is more fragile than previously thought. With two drivers in an intense battle, wringing the life out of the car, everything needs to stand up to the heat of the fight.

It became evident that the race would be won in the last few laps and when Williams released Felipe Massa on his newer tyres, we knew we were in for a treat. He cut his way through and was on his way towards the podium. Sergio Pérez knew his Force India was in trouble and had gone from second to fourth with little braking power left. To see both cars out of the race in such a quick yet dramatic crash was frightening. Massa’s crash was 32g, Perez’s 28g. Both wanted a podium, at the very worst decent points. In the end both were just happy to escape relatively unscathed.

I don’t think there was anyone at the track who could deny Daniel Ricciardo his first victory. He’s a class act both in and out of the car and it was great to see how Sebastian Vettel reacted, hugging his new Aussie team-mate as they emerged after 70 laps and dousing him with champagne on the podium.

Even the four-time world champion is having to work hard to get the sport back on-side and the 2014 version of F1 is teaching him some unexpected lessons. The new boy is good – very good – and much better than anyone, especially Vettel, could have thought. But it is more than that for Vettel. Not since 2009 has he turned up in Canada and not been in the heart of a championship battle and for the first time in his Red Bull career, he’s the one with the bad luck when it comes to the team’s and engine supplier’s problems.

Formula 1 can allow people to realise their dreams, but they should savour every second as no-one can be sure how long those dreams will last.

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