x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Schumacher was 'out of line'

The German drove a very aggressive race as he looked on the edge of desperation and not used to struggling in F1

Montreal lived up to its reputation of being a wonderful motor racing circuit on Sunday, unfortunately Michael Schumacher did not live up to his. Schumacher drove a very aggressive race in the Canadian Grand Prix, making contact with a number of drivers. I thought he was out of line on a couple of occasions.

Some of his moves looked like a man on the edge of desperation as he is not used to struggling in a Formula One car. There is a "drivers' agreement" that you can move your line just once to defend when another car is attempting to overtake you. I felt when Felipe Massa was trying to pass him in his Ferrari, Schumacher moved to the middle of the track and then as Massa tried to go past him on the left, he moved back over, squeezing Massa, which led to him breaking his car's front wing against the rear of the Mercedes GP.

I felt that went above the terms of that agreement and there were other cases were he pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable defence as he struggled with grip. The way he forced Robert Kubica's Renault on to the grass was another bad moment for me. But, generally, Montreal gave us another entertaining race. There was a lot of action and overtaking and it was a thoroughly absorbing race in what is turning into a very enjoyable season.

A lot of the drama was caused by the tyre problems the teams had as they struggled with degradation, particularly on the softer tyre, which led to the race being run on a two-stop strategy rather than the usual one stopper for the teams. Driving on worn tyres while trying to keep a good pace is difficult, but it is not impossible, and it does provide an opportunity for drivers to make a difference.

The situation with the tyres was the same for everyone and there is a skill in being able to run to a limit that is quick, but allows you to preserve the tyre and continue to get the grip to enjoy a decent enough pace. You saw different strategies, which added to the intrigue, with Red Bull-Renault keeping Mark Webber on the harder tyre for two stints, which looked at one stage if it could work for the Australian, but he eventually had to be content with fifth, which was not enough for him to keep top spot in the title standings.

Lewis Hamilton and McLaren ultimately did the best job with Hamilton leading home a one-two for the team ahead of Jenson Button and that is how it now is in the drivers' championship table. They did the best job of managing their tyres and were well worth the victory, which was the team's fourth of the season. Hamilton has not always had the best reputation for preserving his equipment, but I think he may have learned a bit from his teammate this year.

It is no secret that Button has always been a smooth driver, who is not hard on his tyres. I would not be surprised to see if Hamilton has looked at Button's technique and has tried to adapt his style a little since the start of the season. Certainly he drove a very mature race and did a great job of looking after those tyres, which is something he may not have been able to do a couple of years ago.

Hamilton is still a young driver, despite already being a world champion, and he is only going to improve as he learns new skills and techniques. I was also impressed with Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, who showed a good return to form and with a bit of luck could have won the race from Hamilton. However, he had problems with lapping slower cars, which led to him being passed by both McLaren drivers.

Ferrari have a development package for the car coming for the next race in Valencia at the end of the month and that is going to be a big race for Alonso. Not only will he be racing in front of his home fans, but it will give a clearer indication of whether he will be able to challenge for a third world title. The Ferrari has shown it can be quick at particular tracks, it is now about showing it can adapt and be quick at every track like the Red Bulls and McLarens. 

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