Tom Clarkson's 2008 Canadian Grand Prix race report

Published: 09 June 2008

We mightn’t know what it’s like to race a Formula 1 car at 220mph, but we know about red traffic lights. Red means stop. So when Lewis failed to see the red light at the end of the pitlane on lap 20 and slid into a stationary Kimi Raikkonen, suddenly he and the high-tech world of F1 crashed down to our level.

Lewis is human after all. But he didn’t see the shunt as embarrassing, as you might expect; he saw it as 'unfortunate'. In the ultra competitive world of F1, to admit guilt for an accident – especially one with your main championship rival – is perceived as a weakness, so Lewis didn’t apologise to Kimi. This, I’m told, pissed off the Finn no end and it lays the foundations for a fascinating psychological battle later in the year when the title battle reaches its climax.

As disastrous as this race was for Lewis, it was a cracker for F1. It was incident-filled, it had seven different leaders and there were welcome new winners in Robert Kubica and BMW Sauber.

There was something exciting about Kubica all weekend. He had his F1.08 on the ragged edge throughout practice and qualifying, often getting airborne over the kerbs, but he never looked like stacking it. He was a man completely on top of his game and clearly suffering no negative side-effects from his smash here last year.

The ramifications of this win go far beyond the present too. BMW have realised their pre-season goal of winning a race in 2008, so they can now switch their development efforts towards ’09, when a raft of rule changes will level the playing field. This will give them a vital head-start over rivals Ferrari and McLaren.

BMW boss Mario Theissen can expect a queue of driver managers outside his office in Magny Cours, starting with Luis Garcia. The Spaniard looks after the interests of Fernando Alonso and I’m told by a source at BMW that the double champ wants to join the team in ’09. It’s more likely that Theissen will keep the status quo of Kubica and Heidfeld (who has a contract for ’09), but it’s a nice problem to have.


1 Robert Kubica
2 Nick Heidfeld
3 David Coulthard

4 Timo Glock
5 Felipe Massa
6 Jarno Trulli
7 Rubens Barrichello
8 Sebastian Vettel

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By Tom Clarkson

F1 correspondent, BBC pitlane man, accesser of all areas, head beans-spiller