13 Jun, 2017
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Canadian Grand Prix - The Debrief

Force India's unexpected expectations, Jolyon Palmer's future and an eye-catching Le Mans guest... it's the latest Crash.net Debrief

Canadian Grand Prix - The Debrief
Canadian Grand Prix - The Debrief
By Ollie Barstow
Follow @OllieBarstowF1 on Twitter


With great success comes unexpected expectation

One of the feel-good stories of the 2017 F1 season got even better - then worse – then better again during the Canadian Grand Prix as Force India found itself wrong-footed by its own success.

With its relentlessly strong 'best of the rest' results, ultra-consistent and reliable car and still-developing drivers Force India may still be fourth on the leaderboard but F1's best value team has genuinely never been so valuable.

It was a confident performance too even down to the decision to split the strategies of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon to maximise its chances of snatching third from Daniel Ricciardo. Unfortunately it didn't follow through on its grand plan by leaving it too long to decide how to play its potential flush of a racing hand.

It's hard to say whether Ocon would have made any difference had he been allowed through to attack Ricciardo and really it is reasonable to understand why Perez felt vindicated in holding position, but both respect the team enough to have followed a directive if it was ordered than advised.

To Force India's credit, it recognised its naivety in its situation but brushed it off as an unfortunate – if ironically welcome – bi-product of an unfamiliar situation, one it hopes it will be able to recreate again soon.

Nevertheless, it gave the team welcome and well-deserved airtime for its loyal bevy of sponsors and appeared to prove Ocon and Perez are knocking on the door of F1's elite with the right team. Of course, we'd love that to be Force India but short of a manufacturer getting involved (like many hope) it seems we'll have to settle for these moments, preferably minus the inter-team squabbles.

As Vijay Mallya points out, imagine what Force India could achieve if it was given what it was arguably owed by the sport…



Reading between Le Lines

You can keep your Monaco Grand Prix or Indianapolis 500, for many the motorsport highlight of the year comes with the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The sheerest test of endurance for man and machine, the historic event is as much a jewel in a racing crown on track as it is a boozy festival off it. We love it, despite the delirium that generally sets in around 8am on a Sunday morning.

Mercifully this year's race is no longer competing with F1 this time after FOM and the ACO untangled themselves from the most baffling (and unnecessary) schedule clash to put the sport and fans first. Better still, a sign of thawing relations between the two bodies appears to be well underway based on the fact Chase Carey is set to attend this weekend.

It is easy to read a lot into something that could be explained away (as it will officially) simply as Mr Carey sating his motorsport appetite or maybe even looking at ways to ensure F1 and the ACO can work more closely together (loaning Fernando Alonso for instance…)

However, paddock chatter here suggests something more significant could be afoot…

Of course, the French Grand Prix returns to the F1 schedule in 2018 at Paul Ricard but there is talk the event is behind schedule in upgrading its facilities and building the grandstands required to welcome the sport back, which has raised the possibility Le Mans could be on standby instead.

To point out straight away, we are not talking the full 'Sarthe' variant of the venue (sadly) but while the shorter Bugatti maybe lacks some sparkle it would need little updating to bring it to Grade 1, while it obviously has little trouble handling crowds and big partners.

It is also worth noting the French Grand Prix deal was very much a product of Bernie Ecclestone and it turned out to be one of his final major acts as FOM boss – take F1 back to a venue his owns...

Could Carey be looking for an alternative Bernie-free option?






Palmer's future out of his hands?

Jolyon Palmer will be the first to admit his second season in F1 hasn't gone to plan, though opinions may differ on whether he has had the opportunity to do better than he has.

While the general inconsistency of last year's Renault disguised Palmer's true form, the relative success of this year's machine in the hands of Nico Hulkenberg is giving him few places to hide. Granted he has been on the receiving end of some disappointing reliability and unfortunate incidents but the statistics make unwelcome reading for the 2014 GP2 champion.

7 races, 0 points compared with Hulkenberg's 20… Palmer is yet to qualify ahead of the German either.

Has time run out for Palmer? The return of Robert Kubica to an F1 cockpit last week in a private test for Renault provided some rather fanciful headlines about a shock return, but was Renault using him as a distraction technique too?

After all, while Kubica grabbed the publicity it was easy to ignore he was sharing track time with Renault test and reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin, surely next-in-line for a Renault drive.

Ironically, the Russian has suffered awful luck in the handful of outings he has had in this year's RS17 having been dogged by technical issues but he is held in high regard by the manufacturer and was certainly impressive in two years of GP2 Racing. The fact Russia is a huge market for Renault commercially doesn't hurt either…

With Sirotkin competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend, could Baku be Palmer's last chance to prove himself?

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