Our in-house F1 scribe runs the rule over this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix which is taking place at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve.
Mercedes find themselves in an unfamiliar position; trying to play catch up to the vastly improved Ferrari team. The wheels seem to be coming off over at the Silver Arrows, with the team now trailing their main Constructor Championship rivals by 17 points as we head for lumberjack country.
Will Hamilton and Co fell away at some of Ferrari’s lead or will ‘Seb and ‘Kimi reign supreme in the Great White North?
Well, Monaco went south rather quickly for yours truly with Lewis Hamilton failing to make it to Q3 due to some serious grip issues. Ferrari took full advantage of Hamilton’s qualifying woes with Kimi Raikkonen claiming pole and Sebastian Vettel taking second which ensured a front row lockout for the Prancing Stag. And as all F1 fans know, a lockout in Monaco essentially means you are picking up the maximum points haul.
So the only thing Ferrari needed to decide was which of their drivers would be allowed to take race honours? This subject received a lot of debate over the course of Saturday evening and Sunday morning with the legendary Jackie Stewart proclaiming that the Ferrari race directors should instruct Raikkonen to let Seb pass him. And while it didn’t play out with Kimi moving out the way on the track, the Finn did fall victim to his team’s strategy as his pit stop took much longer to complete than that of his teammate, who pitted six laps after him. The aforementioned stops ultimately allowed Vettel to take the lead and he never looked back claiming the race win and extending his lead on the Drivers’ Championship standings to 25 points.
While Raikkonen managed to claim second, the Finn cut a bleak figure on the podium and one has to wonder how this disappointment will affect the veteran come Canada. The final podium occupant, Daniel Ricciardo, was all smiles, however, the Aussie had a bit of a nightmare in Monaco up until Sunday but his third-place finish will have given him a lot of confidence heading to Canada. It was actually a decent day for Ricciardo’s team with Max Verstappen bringing his car home in fifth. Fourth place was claimed by Valterri Bottas who, like Raikkonen, was also hampered by a poor pit strategy.
There was to be no silver lining for the Silver Arrows out in Monaco with Lewis Hamilton only managing to bring his car over the line in seventh – a place behind the impressive Carlos Sainz. The top ten was rounded out by Romain Grosjean (8th), Felipe Massa (9th) and Kevin Magnussen (10th).
Canadian Grand Prix | Sunday 11 June | Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve | 18:30
To Win Outright
Lewis Hamilton 12/10 | Sebastian Vettel 5/4 | Valterri Bottas 6/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 12/1 | Max Verstappen 25/1 | Daniel Ricciardo 28/1 | Sergio Perez 500/1 | Felipe Massa 500/1
A firm favourite amongst F1 Fans, the Canadian Grand Prix offers excitement at every turn with high-speed cornering and a kilometre straight that runs onto the aptly named Wall of Champions.
The Drivers will face thirteen turns, during each of their 70 laps, which include some of the trickiest hairpins on the F1 calendar. The track’s high-speed nature wreaks havoc on the cars braking system, which means tyre wear could be a massive issue, especially for Mercedes.
The track is known for producing spectacular crashes and with a bit of rain floating around Montreal, we can be sure of at least one appearance from the Safety Car this Sunday.
Pirelli has issued the soft, super softs and ultra softs for this weekend which could be a bit of a gamble as this track has a reputation for eating through tyres quicker than an obese American can devour a junior cheeseburger from McDonalds.
Last year’s Grand Prix was won by Lewis “The King of Canada Hamilton” with Vettel claiming second and Valtteri Bottas claiming third.
First Constructor Retirement – McLaren 4/1
I don’t generally tip these markets as there’s a hell of a lot of risk involved and not that all too much reward. But hey, this is a race that is synonymous with early retirements and McLaren are a team whose drivers’ spend more time in the pits than on the asphalt.
Fernando Alonso has been off racing Indy cars and he may be slightly out of sync with his McLaren while his teammate Stoffel Van Doorne is yet to race on this track in an F1 car. I wouldn’t throw the house on it but a R10 punt on a McLaren to be the first to retire nets a tidy little profit.
Kimi Raikkonen Podium – No – 8/10
I really fancy this one. Kimi, despite his ice like personality, has a history of letting his emotions get the better of him. I sense the Finn may still be seething about what transpired in Monaco a fortnight ago, which could see him take a few risks he generally wouldn’t. This is also a track that the Ferrari man has struggled at recently. He hasn’t claimed a podium finish here since 2006 and only managed a sixth place finish last year. I’ll be having my biggest strike on the ‘Iceman’ to miss out on a podium spot.
Race Winner and Fastest Qualifier: Lewis Hamilton 5/4 & 1/1
He’s known as ‘The King of Canada’ for good reason winning five races at the track since he made his debut in 2007. He has the course craft and Mercedes will surely be able to get their set-up right for a track that they have dominated on. I’m backing Hamilton to finally bounce back with a pole and a race win.