Will Canada produce yet another different winner?

2012 Canadian Grand Prix preview

Start, Montreal, 2010After F1′s record-breaking sixth different winner in the first six races the obvious question that follows is: will we now get a seventh?

On paper it’s entirely possible. Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher both have excellent records in Canada and both are yet to win this year.

And then there’s the Lotuses, which have looked very strong and are yet to win a race.

On top of that, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of those tracks which often sees chaotic, unpredictable races and multiple safety car interventions. The high speeds and limited run-off in places means it would not be a surprise to see the field headed by the Mercedes SLS AMG make at least one appearance.

Montreal circuit information

Lap length 4.361km (2.71 miles)
Distance 70 laps (305.3km/189.7 miles)
Lap record* 1’13.622 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)
Fastest lap 1’12.275 (Ralf Schumacher, 2004)
Tyres Soft and Super-soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Montreal track data in full

In some ways it’s rather appropriate that the safety car was used for the first time in F1 at the Canadian Grand Prix, in 1973 – even if it was a bit of a shambles.

Set-up wise, Montreal is all about low drag, good low-speed traction, and consistent performance from the brakes. The latter take a pounding as the cars tackle five major braking zones per lap.

As in Monaco, teams will have the soft and super-soft tyres to use. This is assuming the race remains dry – which, as last year’s race showed, is not a given.

Red Bull

Although Red Bull have been the focus of considerable attention as the FIA has ruled the holes in the floor of its RB8 illegal, it is doubtful the deletion of such a minor tweak will have a major effect on their car’s performance.

At worst, it may serve to hinder their understanding of a car which had proved tricky at the start of the season but had seemingly come good with two wins in the last three races.

A win for them here would be the perfect response to the doubtful suggestions that they enjoyed a major performance benefit with they now-forbidden configuration. Double so for Sebastian Vettel, who saw victory slip through his fingers here on the final lap last year.

As for Mark Webber, his Monaco win not only underlined his return to form after a poor 2011, it also propelled him into the thick of the championship battle.

McLaren

McLaren’s fears about their failure to capitalise on their early-season performance seemed to be borne out in Monaco. Lewis Hamilton was outside the top two for the first time in qualifying, and slipped backwards in the race, never really looking comfortable.

But this is a circuit where he has excelled in the past, with three pole positions and two wins in four visits to his name. He will surely be in contention to break his 2012 duck here.

Last year’s winner Jenson Button has been perplexed by tyre performance in recent races, failing to reach Q3 in Spain and Monaco. Overtaking is far less difficult in Canada than at the last two venues, but even so he needs to reduce his race day handicap with a better performance on Saturday.

Ferrari

The Ferrari resurgence is on – and not just for Fernando Alonso.

In Monaco Felipe Massa looked much more comfortable in the F2012 and needs to carry that momentum into this race if he’s to stand any chance of retaining his seat for next year – a task which many already expect is a lost cause.

Low-speed grip and high-speed performance were notable early weaknesses of the F2012. This track will reveal how well Ferrari have addressed those shortcomings.

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Monaco, 2012It’s not hard to see why many are tipping Mercedes as the team to watch this weekend. Their extra-efficient double DRS gives them a straight-line speed boost which should be especially useful here.

Out of the six tracks visited so far, China had the highest proportion of DRS-suitable straights: 53%. And, of course, that’s where Mercedes scored their single win so far, courtesy of Nico Rosberg.

But at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve drivers can use DRS over 63% of a lap in qualifying, which may enhance Mercedes’ advantage even further.

Rosberg may have their only win so far but Michael Schumacher’s form here is excellent. He’s won the race seven times before and had his best post-comeback result here last year (fourth).

Lotus

After a poor weekend in Monaco, Kimi Raikkonen’s progress will be watched keenly to see if he remains unhappy with his steering set-up.

Lotus suspect the low-grip surface in Monaco was at the root of his tyre trouble during the race. If so, they’ll have to work out a solution in practice at another temporary track which is often slippery.

Romain Grosjean, meanwhile, has a new circuit to familiarise himself with this weekend.

Force India

After six races, Force India have almost three times as many points as they did at this stage last year.

“I think we?ve demonstrated that we can carry on where we left off last year and fight for points everywhere,” said Paul di Resta.

“The teams around us are all strong, but we?ve shown that we are consistent and can take on teams like Lotus, Williams and Sauber, who are all looking competitive. In terms of points scored we are well ahead of where we were this time last year we take a lot of positives from that.”

Sauber

A disappointing Monaco for Sauber yielded no points. Sergio Perez is yet to add to his tally since his superb second place at Sepang.

He missed last year’s race as he withdrew following the first practice session, still suffering ill effects from his Monaco shunt.

“I think at times in recent races we have been very unlucky, but the pace is there as my lap times during the Monaco race clearly proved,” he said. “I?m looking forward to doing a good job in Canada and scoring as many points as possible.”

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne briefly starred in Monaco before dropping back after an ill-chosen switch to intermediate tyres.

He’s had the beating of team mate Daniel Ricciardo in races so far this year. Will a move to a circuit neither has raced on before change that?

Williams

Bruno Senna, Williams, Monaco, 2012Williams were another team who failed to deliver on their potential in Monaco.

While Bruno Senna lacked his team mate’s speed, Pastor Maldonado effectively destroyed his weekend with a needless collision in practice. The team made it plain after the race the car was capable of better.

Caterham

The short, slow Monaco track always has the effect of narrowing the gaps between the teams. Even so Caterham will have been encouraged to see their deficit to the next slowest car dip under 1% for the first time this year last weekend.

HRT

Not having KERS will hurt the HRTs on a track where straight-line speed is important. However they do at least have some special aero parts for this track which demands a low-drag configuration, a luxury they have not always enjoyed previously.

Marussia

Marussia are also without KERS and Timo Glock and Charles Pic are likely to face another weekend in limbo between Caterham and HRT.

2012 driver form

Q avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 6.5 4.83 1 11 6/6 Form guide
Mark Webber 5 4.67 1 11 6/6 Form guide
Jenson Button 5.83 10 1 18 6/6 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 6.33 5 3 8 6/6 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 7.5 4.5 1 9 6/6 Form guide
Felipe Massa 12.83 11.6 6 15 5/6 Form guide
Michael Schumacher 7.5 10 10 10 2/6 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 4.67 6.67 1 13 6/6 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 9 6.67 2 14 6/6 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 5.5 4.33 3 6 3/6 Form guide
Paul di Resta 13.33 9.33 6 14 6/6 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 12.83 10.8 8 15 5/6 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 10.83 8.5 5 13 4/6 Form guide
Sergio Perez 12.5 8.6 2 11 5/6 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 13 13.2 9 17 5/6 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 15.67 12.17 8 16 6/6 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 13 10.25 1 19 4/6 Form guide
Bruno Senna 14.33 12.2 6 22 5/6 Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen 18.83 17.4 13 23 5/6 Form guide
Vitaly Petrov 18.67 16.75 16 18 4/6 Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa 21.4 20.25 19 21 4/5 Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan 23.2 20 15 22 4/5 Form guide
Timo Glock 20.67 16.83 14 19 6/6 Form guide
Charles Pic 20.67 18.33 15 20 3/6 Form guide

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97 comments on Will Canada produce yet another different winner?

  1. Mads (@mads) said on 6th June 2012, 16:04

    I think we will have another winner, but with the predictable unpredictability of this season so far, why limit ourselves to official driver entries?
    My money is on Luca de Montezemolo.
    I expect he will go for a short but incredibly stylish first stint, in a classic black suit and expensive Italian shoes.
    Then he will take to the pits on lap 20 and change to some comfy trainers for a consistent final stint and take the win right in front of Hamilton.
    At least he wont have any issues with overheating shoe soles.
    I think Hamilton’s best bet is to wait for the rain. Montezemolo will have to pit for a pair of wellies, and those things are stupid to run in as we all know.
    If his ankles even survive a stint on wellies, his lap times will so slow that he will be a sitting duck.

  2. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 6th June 2012, 16:41

    It’s ironic that the first three cars pictured above will not be winning the race in Montreal

  3. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 6th June 2012, 16:59

    It should be an unpredictable race because Canada is always a crazy race. The track seems tailor made for Mercedes and their trademark straight line speed and good traction should fall into their hands, so I think they will be fast. This grand prix as Alonso has already said is the acid test for Ferrari they had a poor top speed and straight line speed and looked a little shaky on braking so we will find out this race if they have taken a step forward. Mclaren and Hamilton normally tend to do well at Montreal and Red Bull are fast and will be in the mix, Lotus could be dark horses if Kimi gets this constant steering problem and Grosjean gets to grips with the track quickly. Aside from those teams I can’t see anyone getting close it rains or there are some big accidents at the front. I think Schumacher will get pole but Lewis Hamilton will pick up another win in Montreal leading home Rosberg and Schumacher.

    It should be a cracker.

  4. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 6th June 2012, 17:19

    Many drivers could win this: Mercedes are looking quick, especially in cooler conditions, Ferrari and Alonso are consistently performing well, Mclaren will be confident they can win (as long as they don’t ruin their race due to stupid, unecessary errors), Lotus have a very quick car, Red Bull appear to have regained their form (and both their drivers are performing well)…this could be incredibly close. A 7th different winner? Definately a possibility…

  5. Dale2012 said on 6th June 2012, 17:40

    I hope we don’t see a new winner so we can start to see a proper championship picture emerging.

    Seeing all the different winners & stuff this year has been great for stats & headlines but its starting to take away from the overall season, Its like each race is an individual event rather than part of a full championship season.

    There’s no flow to this year so im finding it hard to get into the season as a season, Usually by this point you have a clear picture of who the best cars/drivers are & who the title contenders are so you can start to focus on who to watch for the rest of the year.

    For me there is just something about this season thats not getting me excited, Can’t really put my finger on what it is but im just not getting into it at all. For the 1st time in about 30 years im starting to lose intrest in F1 big time.

    • Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 6th June 2012, 18:12

      I agree with you about the chapmionship, no real picture has emerged, normally the first 4 or 5 grand prix’s give you that inclination of who are quick and who are not and a championship battle emerges from there but this year it seems more about the race than the standings, I still enjoy it but my bugbear is that it shouldn’t be all about the tyres and people looking after them, it should be on the limit wheel to wheel racing.

    • Clive2012 said on 6th June 2012, 20:07

      Its like each race is an individual event rather than part of a full championship season.

      know what you mean.

      i don’t know if its good or bad, i myself dont really know what to think of it all, part of my doesn’t mind it but the purist in me hates it.

      i think thats what it comes down to, the more casual fan & those who want constant action & unpredictability all seem to be loving this year, often proclaiming it the best ever.
      however it seems many of the more long term, more hardcore, purist fans either dislike or totally hate the way things are.

      the problem i see is what happens if/when things return more to normal? will even exciting races be called boring again as we saw towards the end of 2011?

    • Kimi4WC said on 6th June 2012, 23:46

      Bunch of fantasy football talk.

      “I hope we dont see a new winner” – are you serious? Winner will be who will get the best out of that day and all the other drivers, it’s called Grand Prix for a reason. Geee….

  6. Gridl0k said on 6th June 2012, 18:59

    Why is it convention wisdom that the AMG is strong top end when it’s always the Lotuseseseses that top the speed traps?

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 6th June 2012, 22:16

      Mercedes can afford to run a higher downforce set-up since the DDRS reduces drag to a much greater extent than other teams systems, so they may not be the fastest (although it appears the Mercedes engine is the most powerful) but they can most likely corner faster than the Lotus and brake harder.
      Also, last year Mercedes regularly topped the speed traps, and have been competitive in that area so far this year, unlike teams like Red Bull who regularly end up 9th or 10th fastest.

  7. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 6th June 2012, 20:05

    Just for info, the Montréal weather is predicted as:

    Friday: A mix of sun and cloud with 60 percent chance of showers. Low 13. High 23.
    Saturday: Showers. Low 14. High 22.
    Sunday: Sunny. Low 16. High 26.

    … but please don’t blame me if the weatherman has got it wrong gazing into his crystal ball.

  8. -billadama- (@billadama-2) said on 6th June 2012, 20:06

    I would like to be Button butt I would’t be surprise to see Kimi on P1 let’s see!!!

  9. Antonio Nartea (@tony031r) said on 6th June 2012, 21:29

    Never been more clueless about a prediction, to be honest.

    We have a track with a serious history in chaotic racing on a weekend that could or could not be affected by rain, with 24 cars running on bi-polar tyres on the grid, part of a season that has the potential to deal a lucky hand to pretty much any team from Red Bull to Force India – if not for a win, at least for a podium finish.

    I wouldn’t place a bet unless I’d have the ability to accurately tell the future…

    The facts, as I see them for this weekend, are these:
    - Hamilton will definitely be a BIG threat in the race as he always is in Canada;
    - Rosberg, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Grosjean have cars that suit the track very well;
    - Button could play the smart card and capitalize on a potential shower in the race;
    - Alonso, Massa could deliver a surprise given Ferrari’s latest pace;
    - Vettel, Webber could pull a winning strategy move again, especially in the event of a shower…
    - Sauber, Williams could take advantage of a potential safety car period or a good quali session…

    From here on, to be honest it could go either way. Some options more likely than others, sure, but still unpredictable…

    Personally I’d love to see Schumacher breaking the bad-luck cycle and backing the good qualifying session from Monaco with a much-expected win. I mean, if it’s gonna come this season, it’s either here or Spa…

    We’ll see…

  10. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 6th June 2012, 21:49

    A wet qualifying might be the catalyst for another surprising Grand Prix. Could Felipe Massa, Paul di Resta or Kamui Kobayashi control the race front the front in case one of them finds himself on pole on Saturday?

    Of course, overtaking is possible in Canada, but with the differences between the cars so small, it might not prove so easy, especially with a shortened DRS zone. In case an unlikely driver finds himself out front – and gets his tyres to work – he might be able to hold of the Alonsos, Vettels, etc., especially if they are squabbling over fifth place, or somewhere.

  11. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 6th June 2012, 22:32

    A bit off topic…but looking back, how good does the F10 look??

    And it’s got to be Hamilton. If he doesn’t win this weekend, it’ll start to become a bit of a psychological issue. We also have two quick-looking world champions in cars with great straight-line speed – Schumacher and Raikkonen.

  12. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 7th June 2012, 4:09

    With Canada being arguably Hamilton’s strongest track, if he can’t pull it off here, I think I’m selling my Hamilton WDC betting slip.

  13. Edge said on 7th June 2012, 6:20

    Michael Schumacher 7777 would be fantastic, hearing the crowd cheering him in Monaco when he set fastest time is great.

  14. Schumacher might very well win this one. He`s in attack mode coming off a pole position in Monaco and has always loved Canada. If he`s in a position to win ecpect him to go all-in.

    I`m surprised writing this as I was convinced the old dog was washed up and ready for retirement. He`s certainly not the driver he used to be, but given a chance he can obviously still compete with the best of them.

    A win in Canada could also set the old dog up for a new career. He feeds off success and grows stronger and stronger. If he wins Canada I wouldn`t be surprised if he becomes a force to be reckoned with in F1 again.

    I have learnt a lesson, never underestimate the truly greats in sports. Even when they`re some way off their previous level you can never count them out. I suspect what separates them from the rest is their determination to succeed at nomather what, and Schumacher is certainly a determined individual. If there`s a way for him to be successful again he`ll find it.

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 7th June 2012, 13:20

    I reckon, like many, that Mercedes will have a good weekend. The car is just perfectly suited to the circuit and provided the weather is decent, they shouldn’t have any issues with the tyres here, considering Schumacher stuck the W03 on pole in Monaco on the super-softs.

    I’d like to see a Mercedes win. That would be just as good as a 7th different winner for me. They would be the only team with Red Bull to win two races this year which would hopefully be vindication that China wasn’t a fluke and they are genuine title contenders.

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