F1 Raft Race, 2017 Formula 1 Canadian GP. Scuderia Toro Rosso

Successful on water, less so on track

June 12, 2017

The motto on the majority of car number plates in Montreal says "Je me souviens" which means "I remember." Come the end of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, a more appropriate motto for Scuderia Toro Rosso might have been "J'oublie" or "I forget."


But that's motor racing for you: two weeks ago we were celebrating Carlos's brilliant sixth place in Monaco and this time neither he nor Daniil even saw the chequered flag on the Ile Notre Dame.

On a track we knew would be a particularly tough challenge for us it would be especially important to have a clean time in free practice and right from the start that wasn't the case. Carlos missed the Friday morning session with an hydraulic problem on his STR12. On Daniil's side things looked more promising as he was in the top ten for both sessions. But we knew that replicating that in Saturday's qualifying would be a whole different ball game.

So it proved with the Russian just missing the cut in eleventh spot, with the Spaniard thirteenth, so that we had our cars in line astern on rows 6 and 7 of the grid. Our programme was upset when Daniil was called to the FIA scales and his car stalled and then he punctured a tyre after contact with the wall and that affected Carlos's performance too.

The use of the nautical expression "line astern" is appropriate for our Canadian weekend. On Wednesday, as part of a joint promotional event with Red Bull Racing's two drivers, Kvyat and Sainz experienced the white-knuckle thrill of whitewater rafting on the St. Lawrence river that forms the backdrop to the unique Gilles Villeneuve circuit. Then on Saturday night, after the technical curfew had been imposed on all 20 F1 cars so that no more work can be carried out by the mechanics, our team took part in the Formula 1 Raft Race.



This used to be a fun event held about 20 years ago at this grand prix, with teams racing each other across the Olympic Rowing Basin behind the pits in home made rafts – one team even used their spare F1 chassis! This year it was revived and organised by F1 with all the equipment supplied by Red Bull. Several F1 teams, plus members of the FIA and the F1 management organisation took part and there was even a team of fans. There was a great atmosphere, with everyone commenting how nice it was for the F1 teams to take part in something together and to cap it all, our team built a beautiful raft, good enough to finish second on the podium behind winners McLaren.

There's no need to rake over our disappointing Sunday; you can read about it in the press release. Therefore as always in Formula 1, we look ahead...to Azerbaijan. The long straights of Baku, the street circuit which hosts the next race, won't suit us that well and already Carlos will be at a disadvantage, because the Canadian Stewards have imposed a three place grid penalty for the upcoming race, for causing the collision with Romain Grosjean that ended the Spaniard's race. In one sense, the race in Baku is a new one, because last year for its inaugural appearance on the F1 calendar, it was called the European Grand Prix, but a geography lesson and national pride means that the 2017 race is to be called the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.