Hamilton dominates in Mercedes 1-2 at Canadian Grand Prix

Leave a comment

A peerless drive from pole has witnessed Lewis Hamilton capture his third win of the season, 56th of his Formula 1 career, and sixth in the Canadian Grand Prix, leading Mercedes AMG Petronas’ first 1-2 finish of the season.

Valtteri Bottas followed him home a little ways behind, while it was the battle for third that dominated the story most of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo held on for the final podium spot in his Red Bull, ahead of Sebastian Vettel for Scuderia Ferrari, the pair of Sahara Force India Mercedes cars driven by Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, and Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, all on differing tire strategies and with Vettel needing to make up the gap after wing damage sustained on the first lap.

Force India made strategic misstep at the worst possible time in not having Perez allow Ocon by, which may well have cost them a podium.

Meanwhile, Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso were both set to score their first points of the season in the minor placings, Stroll doing so on home soil for Williams with Alonso finally looking set to drag the McLaren Honda to one point. But even that went away as he stopped on track with just two laps to go.

It was a chaotic start with Hamilton getting away well from the pole while Vettel was swamped by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who got up to second and clipped Vettel’s right front wing end plate in the process.

Behind them, there was more drama as Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Carlos Sainz Jr.’s Toro Rosso got tangled together exiting Turn 2. Sainz’s miserable weekend came to an end on the first lap as his car careened across the road and collected Felipe Massa’s Williams in the process.

That brought out the first Safety Car of the race, and allowed Grosjean (who switched from Pirelli’s ultrasoft compound to a set of supersofts) and Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein (who did the opposite and went from supersoft to ultrasoft) to go off sequence.

Vettel pitted after the restart on Lap 5 for a front wing replacement and his own tire change to supersofts, and dropped to 18th and last on the road.

Verstappen’s blinder of a start went away quickly at Turn 2 on Lap 11, when after an upshift his TAG Heuer-badged Renault engine engaged a box full of neutrals. He ground to a halt from second place with an with an apparent battery issue, and that brought out a Virtual Safety Car.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer, and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson were good to pit on this sequence.

With Verstappen out, Hamilton managed to increase his lead to more than six seconds shortly after the restart, ahead of Bottas, Ricciardo, Perez, and Raikkonen.

Pit stops followed from there with most drivers switching onto the supersoft compound, but Ricciardo went onto the softs instead.

Vettel had made it back to eighth after his first lap wing issue and subsequent pit stop in that period.

Hamilton and Ocon ran 1-2 at the time, but needed to pit. Both did so and went from ultrasofts onto supersofts.

At half distance, Hamilton led Bottas, but an intriguing battle was shaping up for the final podium spot. Ricciardo was third on the softs ahead of Perez, Raikkonen, and Ocon, with Vettel in fourth. Ocon, having pitted latest of that group, was on the freshest tires, but would need to pass all on track in order to move up the order.

Ferrari, meanwhile, reported in on Lap 37 that Vettel had a damaged floor, and would have to press on with that.

Raikkonen dispatched his supersofts for ultrasofts in the final 28 laps, which was an interesting strategic play. That meant it’d be a straight fight between the Force India teammates, Perez and Ocon, for fourth unless Raikkonen could claw back enough of a gap to overcome the deficit created by the pit stop.

A little further down the order, Lance Stroll made a series of moves to advance up to 13th, and gained another position when Alonso pitted after 43 laps on ultrasofts to go to supersofts.

He then pressed the pair of McLaren teammates, with Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne ahead of him, and would later get ahead of both of them by the end of Lap 47 to get into 11th. With Magnussen in the pits, that promoted him up to 10th and a point. He gained another spot when Daniil Kvyat pitted from ninth and suffered tires issues, with the Toro Rosso team not ready with a full set of tires. Kvyat was later told to stop the engine during the elongated stop.

Ricciardo’s pace started to fade on the softs, but he’d have to hold back the Force India twins for the final podium spot. Ocon’s fresher tires favored him in this process and Force India hinted the two should switch a position around without actually saying as much.

Vettel pitted for ultrasofts, like Raikkonen did, for a final 18-lap sprint. Both would be faster than the Force Indias as the race would draw to its conclusion.

The question then shifted to whether the Force Indias would shift positions in an attempt to overtake Ricciardo. With that not happening, the two Ferraris then immediately caught up the Force Indias.

With just five laps to go Vettel, who’d gotten by Raikkonen after an off at the final chicane, was right behind Ocon.

It almost came to tears at Turn 1 on Lap 67. Ocon was forced off wide as Vettel went to the inside at Turn 1, but with Perez having backed them both up, Ocon lost the fifth position to Vettel.

Vettel then got by Perez with Ocon still stuck behind him. Raikkonen was seventh and Hulkenberg, Stroll, and Grosjean completed the points finishers.

Alonso was set for 10th before radioing in, “engine,” and stopping again – another bitter blow in his F1 season of discontent.

The unofficial results are below.

EXCLUSIVE: NHRA’s Don Schumacher, all 7 of his drivers to donate brains for concussion research

From left, DSR Top Fuel drivers Leah Pritchett, Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher. Photos courtesy Auto Imagery.
Leave a comment

In a collective large-scale move never before seen in motorsports or any other form of professional sports, NHRA drag racing team owner Don Schumacher and all seven of his drivers have pledged in writing to donate their brains upon death to the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF), NBCSports.com’s MotorSportsTalk has learned exclusively.

The pledges were all signed this afternoon at suburban Denver’s Bandimere Speedway, site of this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals.

Team owner Don Schumacher (in red shirt) and his seven Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers sign written pledges to donate their brains for concussion research Friday at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver.

Don Schumacher Racing is the second-most successful team overall in NHRA history, with 11 Top Fuel and five Funny Car championships, as well as over 300 combined nitro national event wins by all seven of its drivers (as well as retired driver Gary Scelzi).

This is the first time an NHRA driver, owner or team has announced they will donate their brains to science for further study on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which can only be detected and diagnosed after death.

However, more than 3,000 current and former athletes in other sports have already pledged their brains to research post-mortem, including NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., U.S. Women’s Soccer Team star Brandi Chastain, and several former NFL Pro Bowlers including Randy Cross, Keith Sims, Shawn Springs and Gary Fencik.

MORE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. plans to donate his brain to CTE research

MORE: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s decision inspires NASCAR Hall of Famer to donate brain for CTE research

While concussions are not a widespread problem in the NHRA as in, for example, the NFL, they still happen from time to time.

With the g-forces, high-speed explosions and crashes and intense vibrations Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers endure while exceeding 330 mph in 1,000 feet, concussions are always a threat, but that threat is usually mitigated by the safety equipment found in the race cars.

Don Schumacher Racing’s Funny Car drivers, from left, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., Ron Capps and Matt Hagan.

In pledging their brains, Schumacher and his seven drivers will also “immediately begin a comprehensive brain monitoring process to ensure an in-depth brain profile upon donation,” according to a team statement.

DSR’s pledges coincide with CLF Project Enlist, a new program launched this week by CLF and Infinite Hero Foundation (IHF) a non-profit organization (and a partner of DSR) that assists military veterans returning from battle and their families. IHF’s main goal is to “accelerate research on traumatic brain injury (TBI), CTE and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military veterans.”

DSR and Project Enlist are conducting recruiting and outreach to military and veteran communities to increase participation in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation (VA-BU-CLF) Brain Bank brain donation registry.

The VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank is the world’s largest CTE brain bank specializing in research into concussions, ALS, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Schumacher, who was one of the sport’s most successful drivers in the 1960s and 1970s, has since gone on to build a vast business and racing empire that employs over 2,000 individuals. He is also regarded as one of the top innovators in performance and safety in drag racing.

“Donating my brain for research to help other individuals in this world is something that I’m more than willing to do,” said Don Schumacher, who was recently named to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s Class of 2019. “It surprised my wife, Sarah, but she also agreed to me doing this based on its potential to help drivers, soldiers, business people and the population of the world.

Team owner Don Schumacher.

“I support (the CLF) 100 percent and was thrilled that my seven drivers agreed to donate their brains.”

Here are comments from all of Schumacher’s seven drivers who have pledged to donate their brains to research post-mortem:

Tony Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster: “I think any athlete donating their brain is a great idea once you’re done with it here on earth. If people can come up with a better system, and a better way to keep future drivers safer, that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to improve our world. The doctors and the technology with all athletes right now, they’re diving in deep to come up with concussion research, and as a driver that goes through 11,000-horsepower, 2.5-Richter scale shaking every single run, I think we’re good candidates to research.”

“Fast Jack” Beckman, driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car: “My wife didn’t take the news that I was pledging my brain quite the way I thought. Apparently, she wants to have me stuffed and put in the corner of our living room (he said with a laugh), but (growing serious) I’ve been an organ donor since I was 16. My thought is, if it can help somebody else, that’s fantastic. When you see these veterans coming back with traumatic brain injuries and PTS, and there’s no one cure for this, it makes you realize how much more we still need to learn about the human brain to have effective treatments for the majority of the injured vets. To be a part of that in some small way; well, I can’t take my brain with me, haven’t used it since I started driving a Funny Car (he said with another laugh), so someone else might as well take advantage.”

Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car: “When approached with the chance to help the Concussion Legacy Foundation and have an opportunity to help with advancing the study, treatment, and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes as well as other at-risk groups, we said ‘yes’ without hesitation. The Concussion Legacy Foundation is a group of dedicated people doing great things to help the next generations to come, and we’re proud to help in any way we can.”

Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster: “We always want to do whatever we can to help elevate the safety in our sport, and be proactive in bettering the safety for all.”

Matt Hagan, driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car: “I think it’s pretty cool to donate anything to science. My brain is kind of mush anyways (jokes). Anytime we can do something to help is a good thing and being able to have research off of how your brain is affected by g-force and things like that, is interesting. Driving a nitro Funny Car is not something just anybody gets to do. There are only maybe 50 people in the world that really, truly experience the g-forces we do on a regular basis. These cars are extreme, we put on a show, and we put our bodies through elements that most people will never even understand. If we can help with the research of concussions and saving lives, that’s a great thing, and I’m all about it.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car: “I elected to donate my brain because of all of my years of racing, suffering explosions and experiencing tire shake. If the Concussion Legacy Foundation can learn something that would help the next generation, I would be very proud to be a part of that. Tying it in with the soldiers who experience traumatic brain injuries, if we can work together and help one another, I think it’s a great opportunity for the road to recovery for everyone.”

Leah Pritchett, driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster: “When I was first asked if I would be open to donating my brain for future research, there wasn’t even a question in my mind at all. All of us are safer in our passenger cars and safer in our race cars because of what we’ve been able to learn from the past. We get to do what we do and are safe because of technology and science. If I have a legacy to leave behind, and it can benefit anybody in any way, from the sports community to the military to a child that wants to play football, whatever it may be, once I’m gone, I won’t need my brain so I’m proud to know that it will benefit others.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski