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Magical Montreal

india Updated: Jun 17, 2011 00:06 IST
Steve Slater
Steve Slater
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

If I were Bernie Ecclestone and looking for the next new venue for a Grand Prix there would be one stipulation. The race name should begin with the letter ‘M’.

There are currently four races which begin with the letter and in every case they regularly deliver memorable Grand Prix races. Melbourne, Malaysia and Monaco are all thrillers, but this year’s epic race in Montreal was something else entirely.

It can perhaps be best summed up in three words, also beginning with ‘M’. Magnificent. Monsoon. Marathon. The monsoon bit speaks for itself. Not since the abandoned race in Malaysia in 2008 have we seen a downpour of such ferocity. The Circuit Gilles Villneuve is on a fairly low island and at one point I was wondering whether it was going to become part of the St. Lawrence River again.

All credit to the marshals and track crews. As drain covers lifted with the water pressure, they kept their cool and never stopped working. At one point they were even sucking the water off the track into tankers, then dumping it into the river.

Their efforts paid off as the track dried and the chequered flag was waved 4 hours, 4 minutes and 39 seconds after the start, making it the longest Grand Prix in history.

Magnificent too, were the spectators. In the week ahead of the race, the organisers were able to announce that every grandstand seat had been sold, a remarkable change from 2009, when organisers cancelled the event due to financial troubles.

Of course, Jenson Button’s meteoric charge through the field to hunt down and force an error from Sebastian Vettel on the last lap of the race was magical. Button was dead last on lap 40, yet went on to take victory after a puncture, a collision with his team-mate, a drive through penalty, five pit-stops and a clash with Fernando Alonso.

However while Button celebrated, Lewis Hamilton added more ‘M’s to the weekend as he sparked off rumours of ‘Moving’.

Hamilton, whose contract with McLaren ends in 2012, made a very public point of sitting down for a chat with Red Bull team-manager Christian Horner. Probably, it was aimed at putting pressure on McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh to pay him more money. What is for sure, he wasn’t just in the Red Bull motor home to shelter himself from the rain! Steve Slater is an F1 race commentator on STAR Sports’ coverage of the Formula One.