Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 Racing - A Jaded Fan Returns to F1

Joe Sherman
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Roy Ritchie

Formula BMW Americas

BMW runs a young-driver development program called Formula BMW Americas as part of a global effort to put winners into single-seaters. In Montreal, the future prospects had three days of practice, qualifications, and racing - just like the F1 guys - honing skills and competing in racing's minor leagues on a world-class circuit. They drove entry-level FB2 cars with four-cylinder engines derived from a BMW production motorcycle, the K1200RS. An FB02 has full safety features and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds. A typical F1 car, in comparison, can go from 0 to 100 mph and back to a stop in about five seconds.

Two of the drivers, Mikaël Grenier, 15, and Maxime Pelletier, 17, are from Quebec. In Saturday's race, Pelletier placed second, and Grenier third, in a field of sixteen. "It was nice to do the podium on my own track," Grenier said. But Sunday's race was dispiriting. "I was in the game; I was fast," said Pelletier. "Then I had a collision." As for Grenier, he said, "The car was perfect; I had the fastest lap. Then I broke a wing." Both finished well back in the pack. Later, a ruling came down from the race stewards about a violation on Saturday. Dismayed, the two teenage racers learned they had both been disqualified.

From such experiences may come the complex alchemy to forge a winner. The Formula BMW Americas series culminates at the Brazilian Grand Prix in early November. Follow Grenier, Pelletier, and other talented young drivers at www.formulabmw.com.

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