Race seven of the 2012 Formula One season, and the racing world's attentions turned to Canada and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The scene of the longest race in F1 history last year, the 2012 Canadian Grand Prix was quite sedate in comparison. However, this year's offering was exciting in a different way. There may not have been a deluge to quite literally whet our appetites, but instead a contest based purely on strategy and calculated risks that made this a race for the purists.
Here are just a handful of points worth mentioning:
Hamilton Finally Arrives At The Party
I was starting to get a little concerned for Lewis Hamilton. This season he hasn't been without his complaints, and regular readers of this blog will know that while I've tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, even I suggested he should just hush up and get on with it. Well it appears as though he's been reading, because in Montreal he got his head down and did what he does best and in his words “raced the arse off” of his McLaren.
Hamilton's victory finally broke his duck for the season and announced him in the championship battle.
It was a measured and impressive performance from the Brit, who has added to his unusual record of either winning or retiring around this circuit.
His continuous confirmation with the team that they were hitting their targets throughout the race, paired with his innate ability to hunt down a driver over the slightest sniff of a place is testament to his raw racing mindset.
This is a man who is finally comfortable with his car and his team after a particularly rocky patch. Don't be surprised if he takes a firm grasp on the championship now.
Grosjean Showing His Worth At Lotus
When Romain Grosjean left Formula One after a pretty underwhelming first season in 2009, not too many people batted an eye-lid. Little over two years later and his return, this time as a championship-winning driver in GP2 was glossed over quickly as attentions turned to another returning driver, his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Come the beginning of the season and many eyes were on Raikkonen as Grosjean amassed a grand total of four laps from the first two races.
However, five races and three podiums later and it is the Frenchman who is starting to catch the eye. Raikkonen is undoubtedly the better, more experienced driver, but Grosjean's progress this season makes Eric Boullier's decision to pair the two look like a master stroke.
Alonso's Calculated Risk May Not Have Reaped Dividends, But It Was Necessary
You've got to hand it to Fernando Alonso. This hasn't exactly been the smoothest season for the two-time world champion, but he continues to stick it out, with admirable conviction.
In pre-season testing he was handed an absolute dog of a car by Ferrari and told to do the best he could. An unlikely victory in Malaysia ensued and he kept the car in points-scoring positions as he awaited a much needed upgrade package.
Since that it looks like he is driving a different car. It would be easy to pat Ferrari on the back for altering their car so radically, but to be honest it should never have been that bad in the first place.
However, now they find themselves in a position where they can take calculated risks and are able to live with the consequences either way, safe in the knowledge that there actually is another race to compete in.
That is why Ferrari and Alonso's decision to only one-stop in Canada was ballsy and (almost) brilliant.
After the race the Spaniard announced himself “happy with the decision” and “proud of the team”, and I agree with him. If he had two-stopped, he would have found himself further down the grid, and decided to take the risk and go for victory with tyre grip running out.
It may have cost Ferrari victory and valuable world championship points, but it was an indication of a team who are finally confident in their abilities.
Pirelli Will Be The Most Happiest Leaving Canada
Over the last few weeks Pirelli have come in for some criticism from drivers and fans alike. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has likened the manufacturer's new compounds as unbefitting for Formula One, while many have questioned the unpredictable nature the tyres are having on races.
However this weekend in Canada, the Formula One world saw just what an interesting impact the Pirellis can have on the outcome of a race.
The last ten laps were some of the most exciting this season and must have felt the longest in Fernando Alonso's glittering career as he saw four cars breeze past him with consummate ease and vastly more grip.
Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez's masterful management of both the soft and super-soft compounds, contrasted Alonso's powerlessness as they snatched second and third spot, and while they will no doubt be smiling at their achievements, the biggest smile will surely be on the face of Pirelli.
Magnificent Seven Make This A Season To Remember
Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton. Seven races, seven different winners.
I'm starting to run out of superlatives to describe this season, so I thought I'd just name the winners of the opening seven races.
This really is shaping up to be a memorable season, and is starting to look like one in which a driver could win the championship with three race wins and a handful of podium finishes.
It's too early to speculate who will do it, and to be quite frank, I wouldn't want to hazard a guess. Let's just sit back and enjoy as this season takes a whole host of twists and turns.