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Canadian Redemption

Post Date: 10th June 2015

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As Formula 1 heads into the summer stretch in Europe, it does so after a brief stop at the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal Canada. The Canadian Grand Prix has been a race steeped in F1 history having first ran in 1967 but the current location, on a man-made island in the middle of the St. Lawrence Seaway, has been a staple since 1978. That inaugural race was won by Gilles Villeneuve himself and the track now bears the icon’s name.

Canadians love Formula 1 and support it as well as the most ardent fan anywhere in the world. The circuit is replete with long straights and chicanes—characteristics that favor the most powerful engines. It’s no surprise that Mercedes looked to be the favorites heading into the weekend and perhaps equally no shock to see Mercedes-powered teams such as Williams, Lotus and Force India toward the front after Saturday’s qualifying.

Knowing that power is a key element at Canada, Ferrari and Honda both used engine development tokens to make upgrades to the shove in the back of their cars. Even with the their improvements, Mercedes still managed to secure the 44th pole position for Lewis Hamilton who was followed narrowly by his teammate, Nico Rosberg, and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Sunday was a gorgeous day and the sun shone on a Mercedes one, two finish with Lewis Hamilton claiming his fourth win in Canada. Hamilton ran out front all day and with more drag in fresh air, he did have to manage his fuel—it didn’t put him in danger of losing the lead but did require some fuel sympathy on the champion’s part which he performed perfectly.

Hamilton-Canada-win-2015-681x454

For Nico Rosberg, he followed Lewis’s slipstream for most of the day and the delta between them ebbed and flowed between 1.2 to 3 seconds. In the slipstream, Nico didn’t suffer from fuel use but he did manage to develop a brake issue that needed similar conservation preventing him from taking the fight to his teammate for most of the race. Understandably, the team were keen to manage the result rather than run the risk of repeating their Montreal disappointment of 2014 and suggested their drivers manage their resources to the end.

What we did not see in Canada was a true representation of just how much improvement Ferrari may have had due to their engine development. Sebastian Vettel, suffering an engine issue, failed to get out of Q1 during qualifying relegating him to the back of the grid and Kimi Raikkonen had a rare spin during the race due to a torque mapping issue that cost him a podium position.

Regardless, Vettel stormed through the field to finish 5th, just behind Raikkonen, and it does suggest that Ferrari have found some pace. The storylines to look for at the Austrian Grand Prix will be Ferrari’s performance on another power circuit. Many believe they have made significant gains and their results this year would suggest as much but nevertheless, Mercedes still seem to have pace in hand but is that gap narrowing? That’s the main question heading back to Europe.

A major points haul for Mercedes in Canada and if you were looking to erase the debacle that denied Lewis Hamilton a clear victory in Monaco, there was no better way of doing that than to put in a comprehensive win at the very next grand prix.

We leave Canada with a decided victory but keep your eyes peeled for the next few races in which Ferrari and Williams may find happy hunting grounds. After a dual DNF in Canada, McLaren Honda have to gain some ground in reliability and pace and Red Bull’s lack of performance is now starting to suggest that it’s more than just their hobbled Renault power unit as Daniel Ricciardo pointed to his chassis as an equal culprit.

It’s all to play for in Europe and Mercedes is positioned well atop the leader board in both Driver’s and Constructor’s championships. Hamilton has put a stop to Rosberg’s run of victories, will Nico have an answer in Austria? We shall see.

Todd McCandless
@formula1blog
www.formula1blog.com

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