It is five days until F1’s Friday practice commences at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The track is a temporary course on the St. Lawrence River, and it spans the manmade Ile Notre Dame. Each year it is gathered up from the island’s meandering streets, lots of curb, big bleachers, and some Armco barriers.

What results are fast chicanes, a 7th-gear straight, heavy, heavy braking, and a particularly nasty kink that does not discriminate. The track well suits its namesake. If ever a man had a pair…

Canada’s is a driver’s course, a racer’s course. Not quite like Spa-Franchorchamps or even Suzuka, but there are rhythms to find in its 2.7 miles. Racers can overtake in Canada.

Lewis Hamilton found his rhythm last year in the McLaren-Mercedes when the young Brit claimed his maiden pole on Saturday and his maiden victory on Sunday. It was the first win of his North American two-fer. Lewis Hamilton had arrived, fully, in Formula 1.

There was also Robert Kubica’s lap 26 crash.

The young Pole tangled with the Toyota in front of him just before the braking area to the hairpin, and now we know what happens when a front wing and a rear tire come together at 150 mph.

The accident was stunning, but also revelatory.

Robert Kubica hit his wall with the force of 50g or more. The car disintegrated around him, yet what remained as the crash unfolded were all the parts still supposed to be there, including Kubica’s own. He left Canada with a sprained ankle and a very bad headache.

Said the team’s technical director Willy Rampf, “While we were completely shocked about the violence of the accident, we were over the moon to see Robert relatively unharmed and were very content about the behavior of the chassis as a survival cell.” Very content indeed.

Robert Kubica had survived, fully, in Formula 1.

Kubica, Hamilton, and the rest of the sport will begin their respective 2008 Canada campaigns in a little over five days. It is worth stopping to consider what we want these men to do, what we ask them to do, what they do. What awaits them?

Hamilton could well win but so could a red car, too. I like to think BMW will win in Canada.