McLaren has been winless since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, however that all changed this weekend when the Woking squad returned to the winner’s circle.

The race in question? The F1 Raft Race, which made a comeback to the Canadian Grand Prix after Saturday’s qualifying session.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve used to play host to two Formula 1 races through til the mid-1990s: one being the famous Grand Prix on the parkland roads of the Île Notre-Dame, and the other taking place in the rowing basin used for the 1976 Olympic Games.

The F1 Raft Race was a highly competitive event: each team had to make its own design solely from items it could source in the paddock and pit lane, and then row it across the width of the rowing basin and back.

As the sport became more corporate and the workloads on the teams’ mechanics increased, the event fell by the wayside.

That was until 2017, when the sport’s new owners Liberty Media decided to bring the event back to life and live-streamed it on Facebook.

Three teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Force India – opted not to take part, however their places were taken by a team entered by the FIA, another led by F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches, and a fan-based team.

Each team was given the same raft-building kit and allowed one hour to design and assemble their crafts.

The 2017 form guide proved to be no predictor for the raft race, with this year’s cellar-dwellers McLaren taking the crown ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso and Sauber.

In the wake of Fernando Alonso’s threat to quit McLaren if it didn’t start winning races by September, the team’s racing director Eric Boullier quipped: “We won! Fernando now has to stay…”

It goes to show what the team is capable of when it isn’t saddled with a Honda engine.

Image via LAT

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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