Will Hamilton regain the points lead in Canada?

2014 Canadian Grand Prix preview

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014It has taken just six races for the once civil rivalry between the Mercedes team mates of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to transform into an intense and personal duel.

Although there is two-thirds of the season still to run and surely more twists and turns in the championship battle yet to unfold, the events of Monaco may prove to have been a turning point in the narrative of the 2014 championship.

And while Mercedes management will have done everything in their power to soothe any tensions between their drivers behind closed doors, once the lights go out on Sunday expect the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton to pick up where it left off.

In an era of cookie-cutter circuits set in soulless, generic locations, it’s little surprise that the Canadian Grand Prix is one of the most popular races of the season among both fans and teams alike.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve data

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

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track data in full

Set against the beautiful backdrop of downtown Montreal on the Ile Notre-Dame, the Circuit Gilles Villenueve is renowned for providing exciting races and incidents as well as for punishing driver mistakes.

With a combination of long straights, numerous chicanes and the close proximity of barriers to the track, the Montreal circuit places stress on engines and brakes as well as driver concentration. The famous ‘Wall of Champions’ awaits the unwary at the exit of the final right-left chicane.

The track itself is bumpy and generally low grip, due to the fact that it is rarely used outside of the grand prix weekend. With the lack of long corners and emphasis on traction, tyre wear around Montreal is relatively low. For this season, Pirelli have opted to bring their two softest tyre types to Canada – the super-soft and soft compounds.

Thanks to the configuration of the Montreal track, overtaking tended to be easier on it than at most circuits. The addition of two DRS zones has made it easier still, and the positions of the two activation areas and single detection point remain unchanged from last year.

The limited run-off increases the risk of Safety Car appearances. Montreal has the highest rate of Safety Car deployments per race of any circuit bar Singapore.

Canadian Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monte-Carlo, 2014Yet more frustration for Sebastian Vettel in Monaco saw the reigning champion fall to sixth place on the points table. After two successive weekends compromised by technical issues, Vettel will likely be hoping for a weekend free of such problems at a circuit where he has claimed pole position at F1′s last three visits.

Team mate Daniel Ricciardo continues to impress with two successive podium finishes helping him move up to fourth in the championship. Red Bull will be buoyed by Renault’s assurance that their engines will finally be performing at maximum capacity this weekend, as their straight-line speed has been an even greater weakness than usual this year, and is especially important at this track.

Mercedes

Having taken three wins, three poles and four podiums from six starts at Montreal, Hamilton will return to Canada confident of wresting back the championship lead from his team mate this weekend. Despite scoring a psychological blow against Hamilton in Monaco, Rosberg heads to one Hamilton’s best circuits knowing that he has never finished on the podium in Canada before.

The low-downforce, traction-heavy nature of the circuit is sure to play to Mercedes’s strengths – making it likely that the Silver Arrows will dominate proceedings yet again. With two DRS zones around the Montreal circuit, we could well see another hard-fought battle between the Mercedes pair for the victory on Sunday.

During their closest encounters so far it subsequently emerged that Rosberg (in Bahrain) and then Hamilton (in Spain) had used a high performance setting on their engine against the orders from the pit wall. Mercedes say they will prevent their drivers from doing the same again – but will the pair be able to resist the temptation to crank up the engine with a race win at stake?

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Monte-Carlo, 2014After admitting that fourth place in Monaco was the ‘best the team could have hoped for’, Fernando Alonso may be able to set his sights higher this weekend as Ferrari seek to take a step forward with the team’s latest upgrade package – including revisions to their power unit.

“In Monaco, we continued to analyse the areas in which the F14 T can be improved and now, we are looking ahead to the next race in Canada, where the package we will use there is a good step faster than the car we raced last weekend,” said technical director James Allison.

Ferrari are calling this event Kimi Raikkonen’s 200th grand prix start. It will be his 201st participation in an F1 weekend, but only his 199th official start. He withdrew on the formation lap of the 2005 United States Grand Prix (along with all the other Michelin-shod drivers) and retired before the final start of the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix, which was stopped and restarted.

The 2007 world champion has only failed to finish in the points in Canada once in ten starts – his single no-score coming when he was taken out of the 2008 race in the pit lane by Hamilton.

Lotus

After a disappointing result around the Principality with Pastor Maldonado failing to start and Romain Grosjean managing only eighth, Lotus are not confident of achieving a better result this weekend on a track which they do not expect to suit their car.

McLaren

Having stopped a three-race points drought in Monaco, McLaren’s main aim for Canada will be to try and claw back the gap to Force India in the constructors’ championship.

“It was a positive for the whole team to put some points back on the board at Monaco after a difficult few races,” said Jenson Button. “We’re obviously still far away from where we want to be, but it’s important that we maintain our aim of continuous development throughout the whole season.”

Force India

Despite some lacklustre qualifying performances over the last two race weekends, Force India have continued to show impressive race pace. Nico Hulkenberg has scored in every race so far this season, usually inside the top six, which he called his best ever run of form.

Sauber

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, Monte-Carlo, 2014A bad season for Sauber turned into a miserable one in Monaco after a double retirement through two unforced driver errors dropped the team to tenth in the constructors’ championship.

Neither Adrian Sutil nor Esteban Gutierrez has looked close to scoring points since the Australian Grand Prix, but even with the team introducing a series of aero upgrades include a unique rear wing for this weekend, it may take a bit of good fortune to end their points drought in Canada.

Toro Rosso

Following a disappointing Monaco Grand Prix in which both cars were forced to retire with mechanical issues, Jean-Eric Vergne is hopeful that the team will bounce back with points around a circuit he impressed at last season.

“I had a very good grand prix there last year and I will be trying for a repeat performance this time,” he said, “although finishing sixth, like I did in 2013, will not be easy.”

Williams

Williams struggled for performance around the streets of Monte-Carlo but Felipe Massa drove well, gaining nine places to finish seventh.

After retiring with engine failure, Valtteri Bottas aims to keep the teams run of points alive in Montreal where he stunned the pit lane with an exceptional performance in a rain-hit qualifying session.

“I have some great memories from Canada last year as I qualified my career best position of third,” he said. “The track is such a contrast from the last race in Monaco, and I think it plays to the strengths of the car, such as good straight line speed.”

Marussia

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Monte-Carlo, 2014Fresh from recording their best-ever race result and securing their first world championship points, morale at Marussia is at a high. While the team are not expecting further points this weekend, they do expect to continue their recent run of form compared to their nearest rivals.

“Monaco was an important milestone for everyone in the team and provides an important affirmation, internally and externally, of the positive trajectory we are taking in pursuit of our longer term ambitions,” says team principal John Booth.

Caterham

Amidst the chaos in Monaco and the focus on Marussia scoring their first ever championship points, it was easy to overlook that Marcus Ericsson secured both his and the team’s best-ever race result with 11th.

“That sort of finish, in a race where a lot of cars didn’t make it to the flag, is all part of my continuing development as an F1 driver, and I’m sure that experience will help me in Canada and for the rest of the season as we keep battling,” says Ericsson.

American reserve driver Alexander Rossi will be taking over practice duties for the team during first practice on Friday.

2014 driver form

Driver G avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 7.67 4.50 3 6 4/6 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 4.67 3.50 3 4 4/6 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 1.33 1.20 1 2 5/6 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 2.33 1.67 1 2 6/6 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 5.83 5.00 3 9 6/6 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 7.50 9.33 7 12 6/6 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 13.33 9.75 8 12 4/6 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 18.67 14.33 14 15 3/6 Form guide
Jenson Button 9.67 9.00 3 17 6/6 Form guide
Kevin Magnussen 9.50 9.20 2 13 5/6 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 9.00 6.17 5 10 6/6 Form guide
Sergio Perez 11.83 7.75 3 10 4/5 Form guide
Adrian Sutil 16.67 14.00 11 17 2/6 Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez 16.00 14.67 12 16 3/6 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 11.17 10.00 8 12 2/6 Form guide
Daniil Kvyat 10.83 10.80 9 14 5/6 Form guide
Felipe Massa 10.00 9.80 7 15 5/6 Form guide
Valtteri Bottas 10.00 6.60 5 8 5/6 Form guide
Jules Bianchi 19.00 15.00 9 18 4/6 Form guide
Max Chilton 19.33 15.50 13 19 6/6 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 18.33 14.75 13 18 4/6 Form guide
Marcus Ericsson 20.33 16.25 11 20 4/6 Form guide

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2014 Canadian Grand Prix

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Images © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Sauber, Marussia

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60 comments on Will Hamilton regain the points lead in Canada?

  1. ME4ME (@me4me) said on 4th June 2014, 18:01

    This Grand Prix has all the potential to be an amazing race. Mercedes will run away with it, no doubt. But behind that .. Redbull will probably drop back a little, and get right in the mix with Ferrari, Force India, Mclaren and Williams. Personally i also hope for a 2011-style wet race.

    • William Stuart (@williamstuart) said on 5th June 2014, 11:29

      Yeah, but unfortunately the weather forecast is dry. I’m hoping it will be a repeat of the 2007 GP, that was a great race and it was in the dry, and Lewis one that one… I think that Williams and Force India can make good ground on Red Bull and Ferrari, and hopefully will have a good battle with each other.

  2. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 4th June 2014, 18:06

    It’s difficult to think that Nico will beat Lewis here. This is a circuit where Lewis wins alternate races, and he didn’t win last year…

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 4th June 2014, 18:36

      @craig-o – I agree. The high curbs and quick changes of direction reward aggression over precision, and with Hamilton’s Spanish pole lap a beautiful example of how effectively he is ironing at oversteer at the moment, an oversteer biased setup (which is heavily rewarded at Montreal – if you can cope with it) on Hamilton’s car might just put Lewis out of Nico’s reach. And if you consider a) the large margin Hamilton had on Nico last year, and b) Rosberg’s mediocre showing in 2012 despite a W03 that was performing well at the time, you can already envisage Lewis’ name on the trophy.

      • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 4th June 2014, 19:46

        @william-brierty
        Rosberg is actually far from a precision driver, that’s a myth, he’s extremely aggressive through chicanes and hairpins, and is very brave at getting close to the barriers. That’s why he’s so good around Monaco and Singapore.

        b) Rosberg’s mediocre showing in 2012 despite a W03 that was performing well at the time

        Schumacher’s pace wasn’t much better, the WO3 was a very inconsistent car.
        Up until last year Rosberg was never out-qualified by any of his teammates around Montreal.

        • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 4th June 2014, 21:41

          @kingshark – It simply is not true to call Rosberg “far from a precision driver”. In reality, the reason behind Nico’s impressive speed at Monaco, especially in the final sector, is his precision on turn in, something heavily rewarded in the final two corners, but also in the Nouvelle chicane. Yes, he’s arguably more aggressive compared with Ricciardo, or Button or Raikkonen, but compared with Lewis’ exuberance he is positively serene, as every automotive analyst and trackside pundit in the world will tell you. What can often make Nico’s driving style appear scruffier than it is is his ability to drive around balances, therefore allowing him to use a theoretically optimal setup without much personalization. At Monaco the theoretically optimal setup is mild oversteer, and therefore we saw Nico having to scope the rear up now and then, but that is not an aggressive pursuit of the throttle pedal rather merely rear slippage.

          Regarding the W03, I certainly think it was better car, in the first half of the season, than the results suggest. In China, Bahrain and Monaco for example, it was likely the fastest car on track, with the later two arguably races Rosberg should have won. At Canada it was not so competitive, but likely still faster than Alonso’s Ferrari, and on reflection I’m sure Rosberg would have admitted that a podium might have been possible. And whilst Rosberg might not have been out-qualified at Montreal prior to last year, he was out-raced by Schumacher in 2011 and saw teammate Wurz take a podium there in 2007.

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 4th June 2014, 23:00

            @william-brierty

            Regarding the W03, I certainly think it was better car, in the first half of the season, than the results suggest. In China, Bahrain and Monaco for example, it was likely the fastest car on track, with the later two arguably races Rosberg should have won.

            The WO3 was the fastest car in Bahrain? What on earth were you watching? Both Red Bull and Lotus were far faster than Mercedes in Bahrain, Rosberg finished over 50 seconds behind and Schumacher was almost lapped.

            At Canada it was not so competitive, but likely still faster than Alonso’s Ferrari, and on reflection I’m sure Rosberg would have admitted that a podium might have been possible.

            Again, this is simply not true. I recommend comparing Alonso’s pace with Rosberg’s throughout the 1st and 2nd stint (when they were on equal strategies). Alonso was lapping ~7 tenths faster on average, Massa too was faster than Rosberg.

            There were only 2 races in 2012 where Mercedes were race-winners, China and Monaco. For the rest of the season the car was terrible.

          • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 5th June 2014, 8:46

            @kingshark – Regarding Bahrain, I was watching FP2, where Rosberg was fastest, FP3, where Rosberg was fastest, and qualifying, where up until a mistake at the final corner, Rosberg was up on Vettel’s pole lap. Not a good enough basis to suggest that the W03 was the fastest car? Admittedly, Rosberg was not going to win that race, the W03′s tyre degradation was too extreme, but it should have at least been a pole position.

          • nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 5th June 2014, 10:36

            @william-brierty “In reality, the reason behind Nico’s impressive speed at Monaco” is that he parked his car in the qualifying, mate :)

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 5th June 2014, 17:20

            @william-brierty

            Regarding Bahrain, I was watching FP2, where Rosberg was fastest, FP3, where Rosberg was fastest, and qualifying, where up until a mistake at the final corner, Rosberg was up on Vettel’s pole lap. Not a good enough basis to suggest that the W03 was the fastest car? Admittedly, Rosberg was not going to win that race, the W03′s tyre degradation was too extreme, but it should have at least been a pole position.

            Free practice is not always a reliable indicator. Red Bull were quite famous for sandbagging until Saturday back then.

            Nonetheless, Rosberg was not up on Vettel’s pole time. He was 0.026 seconds slower in S1, and a few tenths slower in both S2 and S3. Admittedly, Rosberg made a mistake when locking up in turn 10, and bumping over the curb in the final corner.

            Without those mistakes Rosberg would indeed have been nip and tuck with Vettel, as their relative S1 times suggest.

            A win however, was impossible, the WO3 was eating through the tyres like a hungry American at McDonald’s. No chance.

      • Becken Lima (@becken-lima) said on 4th June 2014, 19:49

        Great post.

        Aside this thing about how he had been hadle an oversteering car, there’s an interesting data from Brembo showing that 13% amount of a lap time in Montreal is spent under braking.

        So, we could GUESS that on this track Hamilton´s strenghts is going to be really maximized — and his advantage over Nico regarding fuel saving can be even more large.

        • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 4th June 2014, 21:46

          @becken-lima – Whilst I don’t know, I would imagine the time spent on the brakes in Spielberg is similar. In fact many of the tracks coming up play to Lewis’ strengths on paper, as also backed up by previous performances.

          • William Stuart (@williamstuart) said on 5th June 2014, 11:38

            There was a great video on Peter Windsor’s YouTube channel with Rob Wilson (driver coach for a number of the current drivers (including Raikkonen)), regarding the high speed braking at Montreal, I recommend it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj0_gO84XIo&channel=peterwindsor

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th June 2014, 13:31

            I know that on paper some are convinced this will be a cakewalk for LH and there will be nothing NR can do about it, I’d like to think neither driver has been on this track in this car, in this format, on these tires, with this level of rivalry, and that NR will have something to say about LH’s strength there.

            So while I agree LH will be hard to beat, I don’t think they are going to hand him the trophy until the checkered flag on Sunday, and it is exactly NR’s role and mission to, at a bare minimum, make LH earn it, and I think there is no reason for history to prevent him from doing that. I hope for an epic, clean battle with both drivers having wiped the slate clean with each others’ little misbehaviours of the past races. I hope they just get down to driving their hearts out within the team’s parameters, and I suspect they will do just that.

    • AlokIn (@) said on 5th June 2014, 9:13

      Thankfully on this track one guy cant spoil others qualifying laps by just doing mistake knowingly or unknowingly.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th June 2014, 13:07

        @alokin Of course at any track any driver could find himself in a wall or stalled on the track or any number of scenarios such that they have to throw a local yellow and hurt some drivers’ final hot lap. I personally don’t think they needed to throw the yellow in Monaco as NR was fully out of the way and the odds, with so few cars left to go by there, were going to be extremely slim of there being a problem.

  3. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 4th June 2014, 18:08

    Will Hamilton regain the points lead in Canada?

    Yes.

    • William Stuart (@williamstuart) said on 5th June 2014, 11:39

      Haha, definitely, should be very interesting, and I can already imagine more controversy regarding the increased engine boost mode, I reckon Nico will put it into use over the race in order to catch Lewis.

  4. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 4th June 2014, 18:09

    Beautiful article there, Will . Loved the term ‘cookie-cutter circuits’ !

  5. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 4th June 2014, 18:11

    I wonder, with oversteery cars this year, how many of them will kiss the wall of champions? Boy, it should be a good racing weekend.

  6. Ron (@rcorporon) said on 4th June 2014, 18:34

    I’ll be in the grandstands and can’t wait!

  7. Sankalp Sharma (@sankalp88) said on 4th June 2014, 19:10

    I predict a boring race as Hamilton should run away with this one. But I think people are underestimating Red Bulls potential here. Vettel won comfortably last year and was on course for a wet win in 2011 until he made that famous mistake handing Button the win. So while the Mercs will canter off, I expect the RBs to still be ahead of Ferrari and the chasing pack.

    • Eric Morman (@lethalnz) said on 5th June 2014, 4:43

      problem is Red Bull cars are nothing like they where last year, shame but that is how the cookie crumbles,
      Merc on the other hand are superb and still improving,
      sorry cant see Red Bull getting a look in at this track, you might even see Alonso/Kim giving Red Bull a run for their money, wishful thinking maybe?
      the two Merc’s are likely to just run away again which is likely to be headed by Ham,
      any SC deployed will again add some interest to the race and possible make what would of been a boring race turn into a cracker,
      well lets hope so.

      • William Stuart (@williamstuart) said on 5th June 2014, 11:46

        Yeah, I think as the fuel load decreases, and the tyres start to wear off for the last few laps, things will get interesting. A safety car in the last few laps could create a Bahrain situation all over again. A safety car must be a given this year, so strategies could be very interesting.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th June 2014, 13:36

      @sankalp88 I think you are underestimating NR and I don’t expect LH to run away with it. Perhaps LH is the favourite but I expect NR to make him earn it.

      • Sankalp Sharma (@sankalp88) said on 5th June 2014, 17:05

        @robbie

        Yea I agree, that my first statement above perhaps makes it sound like Hamilton will win by a margin of 30 seconds. NR will be a lot closer than that, but Hamilton should keep him at bay given his outstanding form in Canada.

  8. HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 4th June 2014, 19:18

    I have a feeling Bottas will be on podium come Sunday.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 5th June 2014, 7:36

      I would have to agree. Red Bull have admitted that this is a track they will suffer on, especially the long DRS straight, where they will fall prey to cars with better straight line speed.

      I believe the Ferraris will keep up their form of disappointing everyone and come into this weekend behind the Bulls again.

      I think Mercedes powered engines will be fighting for podium places again, and Bottas (due to his good form here last year) and the Hulk will be fighting for P3, with Dan and Fernando closely behind them.

      Can’t wait for this weekend.. have a feeling it’s going to be as good a race as Bahrain.

  9. JCost (@jcost) said on 4th June 2014, 20:00

    I can’t wait for a number of reasons:

    1. Will Lewis get his lead back or Nico will hit a second straight punch?
    2. How close will be RB10 with Renault PU at 100%?
    3. Will Marussia beat Sauber?

  10. Fsoud (@udm7) said on 4th June 2014, 20:44

    I wasn’t really rooting for anyone for WDC, being an Alonso/Hulkenberg supporter, but Lewis’s comments since around Spain have started to put me off.
    Yes, he’s the better driver, Yes, he has responded to this years challenge much better. But he didnt grow up like Alonso, devoid of sponsorship, having practically no connection to F1 till the end of 1998, having a father who buillt him a kart from spare parts. Lewis did have a good home, and sponsorship from the age of 13 With McLaren. Having money to buy new parts makes as much difference in karting as KERS does.
    Above that, you don’t come into F1 because your father was WC. Nico has earned it as much as Lewis.
    His idol too was from a well built background, but no one questioned his will to win.
    I’m just tired of Rosberg being played down so much. I’d love to see him grab pole come Saturday.

    • reg (@reg) said on 4th June 2014, 22:29

      That is clever about his boyhood idol — “Lewis claims he is hungrier than Senna was” :)

    • William Stuart (@williamstuart) said on 5th June 2014, 11:59

      You are exaggerating Alonso’s situation, of course neither had great upbringings but the way you state it makes it appear as if Alonso’s dad built the kart for Alonso to compete in. It was made for Alsonso’s sister, but she didn’t enjoy karting so it was given to Alonso as a present. I don’t think you can argue that either had a harder upbringing that the other since you don’t know them personally.

  11. RACERNORRISKI (@racernorriski) said on 4th June 2014, 20:47

    I do not think Lewis will get more points in Canada than Nico.. Reason being Lewis is so distracted by Nico’s success he will screw up….. Starting to feel sorry for SebV, not a lot, but just a little. Thanks, RnR

  12. reg (@reg) said on 4th June 2014, 20:47

    201 – 2 = 200

    The Ferrari wind tunnel guys must behind this calculation.

  13. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 4th June 2014, 22:21

    Simply put – yes, he will (unless reliability has an influence on proceedings). Hamilton is sublime around Canada in the dry, and the forecast is entirely in his favour on that. Add to that his extra confidence under braking relative to last year and an engine which should relish the long straights of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and I think the combination is formidable.

    Though Renault are perhaps the ones to watch – will they live up to their promise of significant engine upgrades and allow teams like Red Bull and Lotus to close the gap to their rivals?

  14. juan fanger (@juan-fanger) said on 4th June 2014, 23:07

    So, is Montreal going to be the first track where these cars will have faster laps than recent years? Lots of straights, little high-speed cornering but lots of low-speed traction. Or will the extra weight add too much time when braking? Looking forward to finding out!

  15. SauberS1 (@saubers1) said on 4th June 2014, 23:18

    I think, he can.

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