2019 Canadian Grand Prix – Preview

It was arguably one of the best performances of his career! It was a drive that would have made three-time world champion and Non-Executive Chairman at Mercedes, the late-great Niki Lauda hugely proud! It was a gutsy, tough, strong drive which enabled Lewis Hamilton to win the Monaco Grand Prix for a third time, and allow him to take a relatively firm grip on the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which heads to Montreal in Canada, and to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the seventh round of 21.

Hamilton (137 points) leads the championship by 17 points for Mercedes over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (120 points) after a champion-like drive on the streets of Monaco, putting together his best lap at the right time to claim pole position, and then holding off Max Verstappen, who had a five-second time penalty hanging over him for an unsafe release into Bottas in the pit stop under safety car conditions, on the medium-compound tyres to take a memorable race victory dedicated to Lauda.

Meanwhile, Bottas had some troubles of his own after pitting under safety car conditions on Lap 11 for medium-compound tyres, and having his tyres punctured after Verstappen was released into the path of Bottas in the pit lane, forcing Bottas to pit again, this time for hard-compound tyres, and losing track position, coming back out in fourth behind Hamilton, Verstappen, and Sebastian Vettel, and while he was able to gain a place after the race due to Verstappen’s penalty, he was unable to pass Vettel, and for the first time in 2019, Mercedes weren’t able to finish first and second. It is a huge blow for his championship challenge against Hamilton, although largely not his fault, but you sense he needs to respond in Canada against his teammate who has now got all the momentum!

Vettel (82 points) is third in the world championship for Ferrari after finishing second in Monaco in what was an underrated drive, but the championship hopes for Vettel are largely up in smoke, and they will need improvements fast just to get close to Mercedes on a consistent basis.

Verstappen (78 points) is fourth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fourth after his five-second time penalty despite putting in a sterling drive, applying extreme pressure on Hamilton on the more ideal hard-compound tyres, but despite a late attempt heading into the Nouvelle Chicane, was unable to pass the five-time world champion, and therefore unable to gain enough time to remain on the podium, or drive away and win the Monaco Grand Prix in what was his best drive of the season.

Charles Leclerc (57 points) is fifth in the standings for Ferrari after a horrible weekend, failing to get out of the first part of qualifying after a tactical error from Ferrari, and in the race as he took a hero or zero approach, after a few great overtakes, he collided into Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg into La Rascasse on Lap Nine, damaging his car extensively as he tried to take his car back to the pits after a tyre puncture that became apparent on the following lap, and his race was effectively over at this point.

In his situation, while you could understand his desperation to get back to the front, patience might have been the better part of valour, something which he has learnt the hard way here, and you sense has now made him the clear second driver at Ferrari going forward into the rest of 2019.

Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (32 points) is sixth in the world championship after finishing fifth in Monaco, ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (18 points), who finished in sixth on the streets of the principality, while Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (14 points), Sergio Pérez (13 points) of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and Kimi Räikkönen (13 points) of Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari complete the Top 10 in the standings after finishing outside the points in Monaco.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (257 points) have a dominant 118 point lead over Ferrari (139 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (110 points) closing in on Ferrari in third. Then, it is slim pickings for McLaren-Renault (30 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (16 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (16 points), Renault (14 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), and unfortunately no points as of yet for Williams-Mercedes in 2019.

So, who will win the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix?

You feel like this should be one of Ferrari’s best chances of halting the winning run of Mercedes, due to the straight-line speed advantage Ferrari have had, but Mercedes are on such a crest of a wave right now, and I think Lewis Hamilton’s win in Monaco, especially in the way it was done, will give him such a boost, and given Hamilton has won six of the 11 races he has competed in at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, he is going to be such a hard man to beat this weekend!

2018 Canadian GP – Preview

After one of the all-time great performances in Formula One history by Daniel Ricciardo to win the Monaco Grand Prix, winning after his MGU-K failed after just 18 laps, managing to keep the opposition, including Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, behind him for the remaining 60 laps of the race to take a famous victory, the seventh of his career, and the first from pole position, the 2018 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship heads to Montreal and to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton (110 points) still leads the world championship for Mercedes after finishing third in Monaco, and leads by 14 points over Vettel (96 points), who finished second behind Ricciardo in the principality for Ferrari.

Talking about Ricciardo (72 points), he has moved up to third in the world championship for Red Bull-TAG Heuer after his second victory of the season, although 38 points behind, but appears likely to have his ambitions of a victory in Canada, the scene of his first victory in Formula One, dented with Red Bull-TAG Heuer likely to elected to use a third MGU-K for the season, exceeding the limit of two, which will mean a 10-place grid penalty.

In a summary of the 2018 Sporting Regulations on the official Formula One website in regards to the power unit and ERS,

“Each driver is permitted to use only three ICE, MGU-H and TC, and only two ES, CE and MGU-K during a championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a car at any one time. Should a driver use more than that during the course of a season, a grid penalty will be imposed.

“The first time a driver uses an additional element over and above the prescribed limits, a ten-place grid penalty will be given. If he then uses other additional elements a five-place penalty (or penalties) is imposed. Use yet a further example of any given element and another ten-place penalty is received – and so on.

“During any single event, if a driver introduces more than one of a power unit element that is subject to a grid penalty, only the last element fitted may be used at subsequent events without further penalty.”

So, it appears that Ricciardo will have to start near or at the back of the grid, which should make for a very interesting race come Sunday (Monday morning Australian time)!

Valtteri Bottas (68 points) slips back to fourth in the championship for Mercedes after finishing fifth in Monaco, eight points ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen (60 points), who finished a place ahead of Bottas in the streets of the principality, while Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen (35 points) is 25 points behind Räikkönen in sixth position after coming back to finish ninth in Monaco, paying for his shaky and erratic form at the start of the season, being involved in incidents or making mistakes in each of the first six races.

I know he is young, but Verstappen has got to learn that he cannot continue making the sorts of mistakes that he is making because it has, and it will continue to cost him dearly. Big mistakes have arguably cost him the Chinese Grand Prix, and the Monaco Grand Prix, as well as the chance to be in the world championship.

He may be young, but Red Bull have a long and proud history of showing no leniency to anyone performing below expectations, no matter how old, young, or experienced they are, and at the moment, you sense things are happening way too soon for Verstappen.

Behind Verstappen in the championship is Fernando Alonso (32 points) for McLaren-Renault, who is just three points behind Verstappen in seventh despite his first retirement of the season (gearbox) in a race where McLaren-Renault would have expected to have garnered a big points haul.

Nico Hülkenberg (26 points) is eighth in the championship for Renault after finishing eighth in Monaco, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (20 points), who completed a double-points finish for Renault in 10th, while Kevin Magnussen (19 points) hangs onto his spot inside the top 10 for Haas-Ferrari despite finishing 13th on what was a difficult weekend on the streets of the principality.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (178 points) have a 22 point lead over Ferrari (156 points) with Red Bull-TAG Heuer (107 points) comfortably in third. Behind them, there is a great battle for fourth between Renault (46 points) and McLaren-Renault (40 points) with only six points separating them, while a huge fight is developing for sixth in the championship between Force India-Mercedes (26 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points), Haas-Ferrari (19 points), and Sauber-Ferrari (11 points), while Williams-Mercedes (four points) will be hoping Canada is a better reflection of what their car is capable of.

So, who will win in Canada?

Looking at the form book of not only the drivers, but also the teams, you can’t go past Lewis Hamilton equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven wins in Montreal, and on Saturday equalling Schumacher’s record of 10 front row starts at one circuit, but you can also see Sebastian Vettel being a close rival in Canada, along with Valtteri Bottas, and Kimi Räikkönen, with Red Bull-TAG Heuer being a little bit behind on this power-dependent circuit.

 

 

 

2017 Canadian Grand Prix – Preview

This weekend, the seventh round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in city of Montreal, where Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton will be looking to fight back against the might of Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel.

Coming into the seventh race of the season, Vettel (129 points) leads the Drivers’ World Championship by 25 points over Hamilton (104 points) with Valtteri Bottas (75 points) and Kimi Räikkönen (67 points) a fair way behind heading to a circuit where both Hamilton and Vettel have been strong at.

In the Constructors’ World Championship, Ferrari (196 points) lead the way after Monaco by 17 points over Mercedes (179 points).

Hamilton has been particularly dominant in Montreal, winning there five times, including his first victory in Formula One back in 2007, and claiming five pole positions, including his first in 2007 from his nine appearances at the circuit.

Only seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher has won the Canadian Grand Prix more times than the three-time world champion with an amazing seven victories at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Hamilton has always started in the top five in each of his nine appearances in Montreal, including eight times from the front row, and in the six times he has finished the Canadian Grand Prix, he has always finished on the podium.

Adding to this, not only will Hamilton be looking to claim his 65th career pole position, and move into equal-second alongside Ayrton Senna on the all-time pole position list in Formula One, Hamilton will also look to claim his sixth Canadian Grand Prix victory, which would make it the race that he has won the most in the sport.

Vettel has also been successful here, and although he has only won the Canadian Grand Prix once, Vettel has taken three pole positions at the circuit, and along with Hamilton have claimed pole position in eight of the last nine editions of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel will also be looking to become the first driver in the 2017 season to achieve consecutive wins after winning the Monaco Grand Prix almost a fortnight ago, and in the last six years, the first driver to win consecutive races in each of those seasons has gone onto win the world championship.

Out of the other drivers currently on the grid, only Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, and Daniel Ricciardo have tasted victory in Canada, with Alonso the only other driver currently on the grid to have grabbed a pole position in Montreal.

Looking at the circuit characteristics, and the strengths of the cars, it appears to be a battle between Ferrari and Mercedes for the victory, with it being wide-open behind them.

On paper, the Ferrari looks like the better package with its ability to manage tyre temperatures, and its apparent strength through lower-speed corners, as evidenced by their one-two performance in Monaco.

However, the Mercedes should also be strong due to the power demands of the circuit, and judging by the competitiveness of Mercedes in comparison with Ferrari at every other circuit, except at Monaco, they should be back in the victory hunt here.

All the evidence points to a Vettel vs. Hamilton battle on Sunday, but will Hamilton cut his deficit over Vettel in the world championship, or will Vettel march one step closer towards a fifth world championship?

I am tipping Hamilton to fight back and claim his third victory of the season.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (Saturday morning at 12am and 4am AEST).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 10am and 1pm local time (Sunday morning at 12am and 3am AEST).

The 70 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (Monday morning 4am AEST).