Mercedes vs Mercedes, Williams vs Red Bull in Canada

2014 Canadian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014The Mercedes pair are the only drivers to have lapped the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in less than 75 seconds this weekend, and look like having the race to themselves on Sunday.

But that’s no bad thing as we’ve seen more than once already this year. And behind them we look set for an equally absorbing battle between Red Bull and Williams, whose four drivers were covered by a mere 0.041s in qualifying.

The start

The run from pole position to the turn one left-hander at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve measure little more than a quarter of a kilometre. So it tends not to see many exchanges of position at the start of a race.

“It is hard to overtake at the start here because there is not enough room through the first two corners,” explained Fernando Alonso. Turn one quickly leads into the turn two right-hander, and while passes here on lap one are uncommon, collisions between rivals are not.

Lewis Hamilton has beaten Nico Rosberg to turn one from second on the grid once already this year, in Bahrain. But it will be an especially tall order this weekend, particularly if Rosberg gets away as well as he did in Monaco.

The cars to keep an eye on for fast starts this year are the Williams duo, who line up fourth and fifth. Felipe Massa has gained a total of 12 places on lap one over the six races so far and Valtteri Bottas has made up eight.

So third-placed Sebastian Vettel can expect to feel the heat from them at the start. Daniel Ricciardo, who lines up sixth on the grid, needs to get away much better than he did in Monaco, where he lost two positions in a very short space of time.

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Strategy

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014If he can’t get past at the start Hamilton may not need the benefit of an alternative strategy to make a move on Rosberg. As we saw last year, Canada’s single DRS detection point and two activation zones can make it very easy for drivers to pass in the right circumstances – to the extent that some drivers were even slowing down before the DRS line to try to gain the benefit.

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility we could end up seeing a ‘slipstreamer’ type of race, where the pair swap positions in successive laps. That would create some interesting discussions on the pit wall, for as we saw in Bahrain the driver who is ahead gets first call on pit strategy.

Tyre tactics are going to be strongly influenced by hot weather conditions, more of which are expected tomorrow. “It’s going to be hard to read the tyres’ behaviour in these very hot conditions,” said Jenson Button.

“They’re very easy to grain, so if you can look after them throughout a stint, it could make a big difference in the race.”

With all the top ten runners starting the race on the super-soft tyres they used in Q2, the first question will be how long can they make them last – and can they then stretch their stints long enough to run a one-stop strategy. Pirelli suspect some drivers will prefer to make two.

But the the harder soft tyre likely to perform better in the race, those starting outside the top ten have a strong incentive to start the race on it. That could play into the hands of Nico Hulkenberg.

“P11 is a good starting position,” said the Force India driver, “it gives us some flexibility in terms of the strategy – I get to choose my starting tyres and I’m feeling quite optimistic about our race pace.”

While the two Mercedes drivers enter round four of their fight for supremacy in identical cars, the differences between the cars immediately behind them will create a different kind of battle.

Red Bull have their usual top speed weakness, but the Williams cars are faster than almost anything else in a straight line. That should add up to another exciting contest.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’16.471 1’15.289 (-1.182) 1’14.874 (-0.415)
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’15.750 1’15.054 (-0.696) 1’14.953 (-0.101)
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’17.470 1’16.109 (-1.361) 1’15.548 (-0.561)
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’16.772 1’15.806 (-0.966) 1’15.550 (-0.256)
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1’16.666 1’15.773 (-0.893) 1’15.578 (-0.195)
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1’17.113 1’15.897 (-1.216) 1’15.589 (-0.308)
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’17.010 1’16.131 (-0.879) 1’15.814 (-0.317)
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’17.178 1’16.255 (-0.923) 1’16.162 (-0.093)
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1’16.631 1’16.214 (-0.417) 1’16.182 (-0.032)
10 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’17.013 1’16.245 (-0.768) 1’16.214 (-0.031)
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1’16.897 1’16.300 (-0.597)
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1’16.446 1’16.310 (-0.136)
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1’18.235 1’16.472 (-1.763)
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’17.732 1’16.687 (-1.045)
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1’16.938 1’16.713 (-0.225)
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1’17.519 1’17.314 (-0.205)
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1’18.328
18 Max Chilton Marussia 1’18.348
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’18.359
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1’19.278
21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1’19.820
22 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Nico Rosberg 20.966 (2) 24.177 (1) 29.723 (1)
Lewis Hamilton 20.894 (1) 24.222 (3) 29.741 (2)
Sebastian Vettel 21.221 (6) 24.189 (2) 30.116 (6)
Valtteri Bottas 21.153 (4) 24.304 (4) 29.977 (5)
Felipe Massa 21.247 (7) 24.376 (5) 29.832 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo 21.033 (3) 24.393 (6) 29.957 (4)
Fernando Alonso 21.205 (5) 24.431 (7) 30.174 (11)
Jean-Eric Vergne 21.330 (12) 24.664 (11) 30.162 (9)
Jenson Button 21.292 (10) 24.643 (9) 30.147 (7)
Kimi Raikkonen 21.271 (9) 24.609 (8) 30.221 (12)
Nico Hulkenberg 21.405 (14) 24.646 (10) 30.171 (10)
Kevin Magnussen 21.247 (7) 24.699 (13) 30.161 (8)
Sergio Perez 21.570 (15) 24.673 (12) 30.229 (13)
Romain Grosjean 21.363 (13) 24.768 (14) 30.499 (15)
Daniil Kvyat 21.327 (11) 24.805 (15) 30.268 (14)
Adrian Sutil 21.613 (16) 24.984 (16) 30.717 (16)
Pastor Maldonado 21.817 (17) 25.090 (17) 31.025 (19)
Max Chilton 21.975 (18) 25.337 (19) 31.010 (18)
Jules Bianchi 22.066 (19) 25.311 (18) 30.865 (17)
Kamui Kobayashi 22.330 (20) 25.835 (21) 31.080 (20)
Marcus Ericsson 22.357 (21) 25.821 (20) 31.530 (21)
Esteban Gutierrez

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Engine Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 337.7 (209.8)
2 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 337.5 (209.7) -0.2
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 335.6 (208.5) -2.1
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 334.0 (207.5) -3.7
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 333.6 (207.3) -4.1
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 333.4 (207.2) -4.3
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 332.0 (206.3) -5.7
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Renault 331.7 (206.1) -6.0
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes 331.5 (206.0) -6.2
10 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 330.3 (205.2) -7.4
11 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari 328.7 (204.2) -9.0
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 328.4 (204.1) -9.3
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 328.3 (204.0) -9.4
14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 327.7 (203.6) -10.0
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari 326.4 (202.8) -11.3
16 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 326.4 (202.8) -11.3
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari 325.9 (202.5) -11.8
18 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 325.1 (202.0) -12.6
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault 323.5 (201.0) -14.2
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault 322.7 (200.5) -15.0
21 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault 321.2 (199.6) -16.5

Over to you

Which of the Mercedes drivers will come out on top this time? And who will claim ‘best of the rest’ honours?

Share your views on the Canadian Grand Prix in the comments.

2014 Canadian Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty

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25 comments on Mercedes vs Mercedes, Williams vs Red Bull in Canada

  1. Sven (@crammond) said on 7th June 2014, 23:22

    As we saw last year, Canada’s single DRS detection point and two activation zones can make it very easy for drivers to pass in the right circumstances – to the extent that some drivers were even slowing down before the DRS line to try to gain the benefit.

    I am now visualizing both slowing down hard before the detection point at the very last lap, each trying to be behind the other and gaining that DRS-advantage, up to the point where one of them stalls. Now that would be an ending to a race…

  2. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 8th June 2014, 0:24

    I reckon this is going to be a great race; You will have an epic battle for the lead between the 2 Mercedes cars, and then a monumental battle for 3rd between Vettel, Ricciardo, Bottas, Massa and Alonso.
    Further down the field, I am anticipating the Marussias getting stuck in with the saubers, and then a scrap between the Force Indias, Kimi, Grosjean and the Toro Rossos for the lower reaches of the top 10.

  3. dutchtreat (@dutchtreat) said on 8th June 2014, 0:28

    I predict that only 1 Mercedes is going to finish, due to a technical problem…

  4. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 8th June 2014, 6:57

    Looking at Vettel’s speed trap. What the hell?

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 8th June 2014, 9:56

      Williams with drs is around 210mph, vs vettel non-drs at 180 or so lol

    • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 8th June 2014, 13:00

      I guess the idea is to pull a one second gap through turns 1-9 to avoid DRS. Then hopefully increase the gap slightly more at the hair-pin and manage to just stay ahead of the Williams until turn 1. Rinse and repeat until the tyres of the Williams are destroyed… I’m not sure it will work though!

  5. HoHum (@hohum) said on 8th June 2014, 8:42

    SV should be feeling like a sitting duck with those 2 Williams right behind him, and should he somehow manage to stay ahead until DRS is active he could expect a whole train of drivers to be drafting up behind the Williams to come flying past, it will be very interesting to see if and how he survives this challenge.

    • Fsoud (@udm7) said on 8th June 2014, 9:34

      Only by using excessive downforce of the Rb will Sebastien survive the Williams, Alonso and co.
      I doubt that will happen though, I expect a Ferrari/RB/Force India battle for the positions behind Williams.
      It could’ve been a mega race between non Mercedes cars, but DRS loves to spoil the overtaking and suck the fun out of F1.

  6. sato113 (@sato113) said on 8th June 2014, 9:45

    Renault teams cant complain about their engines when toro rosso are high in the speed trap table

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 8th June 2014, 10:05

      I don’t think that is a very reasoned assessment, considering the vast majority of the Renault cars are in the bottom 9 and Mercedes cars lock out the top six @sato113, despite Toro Rosso traditionally running lower wing angles.

  7. William Stuart (@williamstuart) said on 8th June 2014, 11:29

    C’mon Williams! Bring back the glory days! Best of the rest! I would love to see a Williams on the podium, that would make my day, and looking at how much downforce Seb is running, it is definitely possible. Does anyone know why he is running so much on a low downforce track, with low speed corners? It would seem that there is such little advantage to it, considering most of the corners are chicanes or hairpins…

  8. Mike (@mike) said on 8th June 2014, 12:50

    Off topic but damn I love reading these.

  9. Regard Lewis and Nico fight, fuel can be a decidinding factor and being this track very critical in terms of fuel consumption (an area where Lewis has being superior all season so far), i’m very curious to see how Nico will be able to handle Lewis – like he did at the tight Monaco.

    There, he could change his driving style and slow down in the process to save fuel and, even so, could keep his lead.

    Lets see if he can do the same in a track with plenty of places to pass…

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