Predictably enough, Fernando Alonso won the Canadian Grand Prix in style, making it look easy in spite of the bunching of the field after a late pace car intervention. He seems unstoppable this season.
The win was also the 100th for Michelin in F1 and the Michelin men were out in force to celebrate as a result. Plus, the race was held on the centenary of the first ever Grand Prix, the French, held at Le Mans in 1906. It is a strange coincidence that Renault won that race too and the winning car was shod with Michelin tires.
But the similarities go even further. Second in Canada was Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari, while the same position in the French race was occupied by a FIAT, the company that now owns Ferrari. It would be easy to assume from this that nothing ever changes in F1, especially when you remember that the likely champion this year will be going from Renault to McLaren at the end of the season, just as did Alain Prost at the end of his most successful year with Renault.
Yet we know that, in between these strange coincidences, GP racing and F1 has been subject to incredible changes and upheavals. For many long years there were no French constructors involved and many other tire companies have come and gone. We have seen the races become the virtual preserve of German manufacturer teams and other times when the small private teams from Britain dominated. Circuits have become shorter with huge run off areas and the race through city streets is almost extinct. It has been a turbulent 100 years.
The one constant has been that the fastest drivers of the times have competed using cars at the leading edge of technology. The cars of earlier times may look primitive and dangerous to us now but, in their day, they were the most advanced machines on the road. And every driver has known that, to reach the top, he must compete in GP races. Other forms of motor sport may have more passing, excitement, thrills and spills, but F1 remains the pinnacle, the finest expression of both driving skills and engineering.
So Renault’s feat in winning the first Grand Prix and its centenary is almost miraculous. Countless manufacturers and constructors have come and gone in those intervening 100 years yet Renault are still here and winning races. They deserve every accolade they will have from their achievement.