Formula 1 lived through the hallmark race of the calendar in Monaco with a sombre mood taking hold of the sport. The death of the great Niki Lauda shook the sport to its very core, and it was clear that many drivers were in an emotional state throughout the first race weekend after his passing.
Lewis Hamilton dedicated his victory in Monte Carlo to his mentor, yet hostilities are set to resume in Canada this weekend with both the British driver and Sebastian Vettel having had some of their best battles in Montreal.
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport have set the pace this season and there is little to suggest that they will be slowing down any time soon. Toto Wolff does a phenomenal job of keeping his cards close to his chest during winter practice, all the while his team are constructing the perfect setup for modern F1.
Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow have been their closest challengers this term, but with Charles Leclerc’s form and good fortune having deserted him of late, it seems we’re set for another fascinating battle between Britain and Germany on a Formula 1 circuit.
Vettel is looking to strike back against retirement rumours:
The Formula 1 career of Sebastian Vettel will go down as one of the truly great ones, especially in the modern era, yet the German has responded furiously to claims he is on the cusp of retirement from the sport. If anything can ever motivate an elite athlete or sportsperson it is the insinuation that they are no longer at the top of their field and that the end of their career is rapidly approaching.
The reality is that all sports people fear retirement like the rest of us fear mortality. Sport is their lifeblood and having that taken away from them is a scary thought. This is why the German driver responded so strongly to claims this would be his last season in F1, and he will be determined to prove the doubters wrong on a circuit where he has four pole positions.
One of the areas where Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow has an advantage over their title rivals is straight-line speed. Formula 1’s official statistics rate that this advantage is worth three-tenths of a second on the longest straights and in Canada the early straight sections of the track will be crucially important to the Italian team before DRS becomes active, something Vettel will look to take advantage of.
Qualifying will dictate the outcome of the race:
Neutrals love surprises when race day arrives, but it’s important to note that the Montreal Grand Prix doesn’t necessarily provoke such outcomes on a regular basis. In each of the last four races at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve the polesitter has ended up winning the race.
This makes Saturday’s qualifying session incredibly important, with recent history suggesting that it will dictate the outcome of the race itself. Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’s early-season qualifying dominance has somewhat deserted them of late, but reclaiming such speed could help them significantly on Sunday.
Obviously, race events can lead to qualifying results being fairly meaningless, especially in the case of a long safety car period, but whomever takes pole position in Montreal can feel that the formbook is on their side with regards to claiming top spot on the podium.
Whilst we’re not expecting any surprises, Daniel Ricciardo will be the prime candidate to provide one:
Renault F1 Team continue to hover around midfield in each and every race, although the team has found a way to bring to an end the reliability issues which set their campaign off on the worst possible foot.
Daniel Ricciardo was their flagship signing, and whilst the Australian hasn’t quite hit the heights of his career with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing just yet, the Honey Badger could be the man to cause a shock in Canada. We’re not expecting a surprise result in the home city of the NHL’s ‘Canadiens’ franchise, but if there are circumstances where a shock can be facilitated the expect it to be the Australian driver who takes full advantage.
A former winner of the Canadian Grand Prix back in 2014, Ricciardo knows the circuit well and has since recorded a podium finish and a fourth place run last year. Confidence is never a problem for the 29-year-old and this could play in his favour with everyone expecting a routine race depending on the result of qualifying. Keep an eye on car #3 this weekend.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing are in line to benefit most from technical upgrades in Montreal:
With most teams having now upgraded their cars/technical setups in one way or another as we head into the second half of the season, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing are actually in line to benefit from these changes the most on Sunday. Introducing new front brake discs prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, Christian Horner’s team now have the capacity for over 1,400 cooling holes within their brake discs.
Montreal’s slow corners combined with quick straights put a lot of strain on these aforementioned brake discs and the ability to cool them far more efficiently will boost Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s chances of success. In basic terms, the vast number of cooling holes within the structure of the brake disc ensure that the car needs less time to cool down, thus it can be pushed to its limits for longer. Max Verstappen is a very naturally aggressive driver, and these upgrades could well see him qualify strongly in Canada.