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Jennie Gow | 16:17 UK time, Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Lewis Hamilton

 

Prost v Senna, Mansell v Berger, Clark v Hill - all classic F1 rivals from years gone by, and most signify a golden age in Formula One. But is this current season one of the best ever, or is the lack of a clear leader the sign that something is wrong with the championship?

I've just returned from Canada where the history books were re-written; we had a seventh winner from the first seven races of the 2012 season. Some say that with no clear leader the championship is more alive.

But there's a quiet murmuring around the paddock suggesting that by not having the traditional rivalries of days gone by it's a disappointing start to the season.

I couldn't disagree more!

Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag in Montreal among scenes of great jubilation. His friends and family looked on, celebrating as the 2008 World Champion got his first win of the season. He now leads the championship from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. However, only three points separate the top three in the table. At this time last year Vettel had a lead of 60 points. Thank goodness this season is seeing a more close affair.

Tyres seem to be playing a major part in this season. Never before have the teams seemingly struggled so much trying to understand what Pirelli have supplied, and how to get the best from them. At best the operating window where the tyres 'switch on' and work is smaller than a very small thing in a small space. Judging those tyres and the strategy to get the best from them is key to winning this season.

Red Bull Team Principle Christian Horner says it's a problem that will go on all year: "I think that the [tyre] window is so narrow on this that it's difficult," explained Horner. "You can move the performance around: you can attack qualifying and maybe it hurts you in the race, or you can go soft in qualifying like Lotus did and perhaps be stronger in the race.

"I think this is going to be a factor for probably another 13 races."

However, Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery says tyres are not the sole reason for the closeness of the season: "If you want the sport to grow you have to create excitement and interest for the general public, and that is what we are trying to do with the tyres - to try and open up the racing to make it more stimulating."

This weekend we travel to the heat of Valencia and the second of this season's Spanish-based Grand Prix. The weather is expected to be around 34c with track temperatures in excess of 50c. Tyre allocation is the same as Australia, China and Bahrain with Pirelli soft and medium tyres. Teams are predicting that tyre management across the weekend will again be key.

Jaime Alguersuari

On the subject of Spain and tyres - I have to take this opportunity to apologise to the BBC Radio 5 Live co-commentator, Jaime Alguersuari. I thought it only right that as an honorary Brit for the year he should get to grips with some of our customs and traditions. Marmite being one of those.

Every Friday of a Grand Prix, Williams very kindly ask us media bods to their hospitality unit for breakfast. It's a good chance to catch up with the team and have a good moan about the weather and other such British traits. This being a very British team, they of course have Marmite for our toast. I decided it was time Jaime should try some Marmite and that we should do a taste test to see if he loved it or hated it or maybe preferred our Australian alternative, Vegemite.

 

 

It turns out Jaime is very much a hater. I won't go into too much detail, but he left the table for the commenatory box pretty quickly after having just one bite saying 'I'll get you back!'. Oops!

I am going to try and keep the British culture lessons going for Jaime. We are busy working out what the next thing is to try on the list. We're definitely going to introduce him to fish and chips at Silverstone but if anyone has any ideas for Valencia, please do let me know.

And sticking on the food theme, thank you so much to Shell who think we sound so much like Test Match Special that they sent us a cake.

They are hoping it starts a paddock competition to see who can make the best one. We are of course more than happy about this. I have to say, this was a very high standard to start things off with.

Cake with Shell team

 

And talking of Valencia, Jonathan, Jaime and myself will be back to bring you all the action from the street circuit in Spain.

Thanks to all of you who stuck with us as we went online for Montreal - we had an amazing response to the programme with over 800,000 people tuning in.

Jennie Gow is 5 live Formula 1's pit lane reporter. You can follow her on Twitter at@jenniegow.

For more reaction to the Canadian Grand Prix listen to 5 live's Chequered Flag podcast.

BBC Sport's Formula 1 site

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