Fans rewarded with great GP finish

Red Bull Racing Jenson Button driving under heavy rain at the Montreal F1 Grand Prix at the Gilles...

Red Bull Racing Jenson Button driving under heavy rain at the Montreal F1 Grand Prix at the Gilles Villeneuve track.(Andre Forget/AGENCE QMI)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:07 PM ET

MONTREAL — There’s a tradition in Formula One press rooms that when the race is great, great applause is afforded by all, regardless of nationality or interest, for the show they all witnessed.

The room filled with 250-journalists which, like the neighbouring F1 paddock, is temporarily perched over the 1976 Olympic rowing basin, exploded when it was over.

It was an astoundingly great race.

Great Britain’s Jenson Button went from last to first and passed series leader Sebastian Vettel on the last lap to make the Canadian Grand Prix the race of the year so far on the 19-stop circuit.

If you’re going to watch one Formula One race, this one will do.

How often does a driver who damaged the front left of his car at one point and had to come in twice for punctures, end up winning the race?

How often does a guy who has to take a drive-though penalty, still end up winning the race?

How often does a driver who punted his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, a two-time winner in the last three races here, end up punting him off the track and then beating everyone else?

How often does anybody work their way through the entire field from last place and take first place from the 2011 series star who had led the previous 69½ laps of the 70-lap race?

And what was going on with Mark Webber and back-from-retirement Michael Schumacher going for third on the last lap was wonderful stuff as well.

It was a mind-blowing last 10 laps to what was a long soggy day for over 100,000 fans who were paid off in full for showing their passion for the race which is Canada’s largest annual sports event.

For a while there, when the Montreal Monsoon hit, all those fans wearing rain gear and sitting under umbrellas figured all they were going to have to say for their day was they came close to watching Formula One history in another way.

For the longest time — two hours and five minutes to be exact — it looked like 2011 Canadian Grand Prix was going to go into the books as a 24 laps race — 10 more than the 1991 Australian Grand Prix — making it the second shortest race ever.

But finally the rain stopped and they went back to racing on the track which didn’t look unlike that Olympic rowing venue.

For the longest time, there was almost nothing to watch other than Hamilton sending Webber into a spin out in the first turn of the first lap and the aforementioned contact with his own McLaren teammate Jenson Button not long later.

If the rain had continued, that would have been it.

Half points for everybody.

No race. No refunds.

It’s different in IndyCar. They come back and do it Monday unless over half the laps are run.

Indeed here in 2006, the ChampCar Series race managed to get six laps in before a similar sort of deluge hit Ile Notre Dame. The rest of the race was run the following day.

As has been documented earlier this week on these pages, the Canadian Grand Prix is an amazing experience even without lucking into a day like Sunday.

Only one thing could have made it better.

If you could have actually watched it.

Sure, it was on the big screens that every fan could see from any set of stands.

But where Button passed Vettel, on Turn 3, there are no stands. Some people in the stands at Turn 1 and Turn 2, if they sat high in the stands, could have seen it from behind.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one terrific track. But like the one where the Toronto Indy is held, you can’t see any given race car for more than nine or 10 seconds from any one location.

Dean Heuman, a member of the Edmonton delegation here to scout the event with Race City Edmonton, a fan who has attended races at several tracks in North America, put it best.

“Obviously enjoyed the racing but it makes me think how lucky the race fans are that go to the Edmonton Indy. They get to see so much of the course live from their seats. It sure is fun to be here, but in Edmonton you are part of the race.”

Vive la difference in a different direction.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@sunterryjones 


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