Ricciardo seizes chance to put one over Mercedes and clinch first win

2014 Canadian Grand Prix review

Mercedes’ crushing start to the 2014 season had to end eventually. But few could have expected it to be so soon, or to happen at a venue which so obviously played to their strengths.

But after both their cars were struck by the same glitch halfway through the Canadian Grand Prix, it seemed at first as though no one was going to take advantage of the rare opportunity to beat the W05s.

In the end it was the driver who’s been one of the stand-out performers of the season so far, Daniel Ricciardo, who pulled off a stunning maiden grand prix triumph.

Rosberg runs Hamilton wide

Start, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014The first half of the race followed the usual 2014 script. The contest at the front was an all-Mercedes affair, and following the tense events of Monaco there seemed to be a bit more needle between the two of them.

That was certainly the case at the start, when Lewis Hamilton got away more cleanly from second on the grid and reached turn one before Nico Rosberg. But pole position is on the inside line for a reason, and Rosberg used that advantage to edge Hamilton wide and off the track, allowing Sebastian Vettel up into second place.

Hamilton was deprived of the chance to hit back immediately as the Safety Car was summoned following a first-lap crash. Max Chilton had blundered into his team mate at turn three, and any hopes Marussia had of repeating their giant-killing feat from Monaco was wrecked along with both their cars.

It took seven laps to get the mess cleaned up, during which time the likes of Vettel and Hamilton helpfully alerted race control about debris and oil patches which needed attending to. Or were they hoping to drag the Safety Car period out for longer and reduce the need for fuel-saving later on in the race?

Whichever, when the restart finally came Hamilton didn’t seem ready for it, which allowed some breathing space for Vettel, who had been having trouble whit his KERS harvesting behind the Safety Car. But any hopes the Red Bull driver had of staying ahead when DRS was enabled two laps after the restart. The Canadian track usually has a single detection point followed by two activation zones, and Hamilton only needed half of the first straight to sail past Vettel.

Hamilton hunts Rosberg down

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014After normal Mercedes-versus-Mercedes service was resumed at the front, the first sign Rosberg was feeling the heat came following his first pit stop on lap 18. Having switched to the soft compound tyres his car skidded alarmingly at the exit of turn four, and only his quick reactions kept it out of the barrier.

Hamilton’s stop on the next lap was a few tenths of a second slower, but even without that he wouldn’t have jumped Rosberg at that point. But he immediately began cutting the gap to his team mate and within four laps was in DRS range.

He was closer than ever when they reached the final chicane on lap 25 and Rosberg braked too late, sailed across the run-off area and did so quickly enough to set a new fastest lap – which stood until the end as his best of the race.

Given that, and the fact his ploy pulled him out of DRS range of Hamilton, he was perhaps fortunate to escape a sanction from the stewards. He wasn’t alone, however – Daniil Kvyat also cut the chicane while defending from Kimi Raikkonen and also went unpunished. But Rosberg was put on notice that he wouldn’t get away with it again.

Disaster strikes Mercedes

It took Hamilton five laps to regain the deficit, but soon after he got within range of the other Mercedes he began dropping back again. Suddenly the gap opened up to two seconds. The next time by, lap 37, the pair were over two-and-a-half seconds off their former pace.

It transpired a control electrics fault had struck both cars at around the same time, leaving them without the boost from their MGU-K.

“When you lose ERS then it doesn’t harvest any more,” Rosberg explained, “and then all the braking on the rear is being done by the brakes and then the rear brakes overheated”.

“So it was one problem and then the next problem happened. That just made it massively difficult. I needed to cool the brakes a lot, I lost a lot of power on the straights.”

The pair coped with the problem as long as they could, even making it to their second pit stops. This time Hamilton, despite pitting after Rosberg, made up the deficit and finally got ahead of his team mate. But it proved cruelly short-lived: his brakes had already begun to fail and he retired on lap 46.

Massa takes the lead

Felipe Massa, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014Rosberg had also fallen behind Massa at his pit stop, and if the Williams driver had been able to reach the end of the race without pitting again the win would surely have been his. But his tyres soon began to fade, and on lap 48 he made for the pits.

Now Rosberg had a queue of potential winners behind him: the one-stopping Force India of Sergio Perez, followed by the two Red Bulls, with Ricciardo ahead of Vettel, who had caught traffic after his second pit stop.

Massa reappeared behind his team mate, who in turn was following the other Force India. Massa was soon on the radio urging the team to move Valtteri Bottas out of the way – an ironic role-reversal of the situation in Malaysia.

It didn’t look like Bottas complied, but even so he could scarcely have helped his team mate more. He made an ambitious attempt to pass Hulkenberg at the second hairpin but ran wide. That allowed Massa through and teed him up beautifully for a run past Hulkenberg as well.

With the rate Massa closed on the lead quartet it seemed he might breeze past the lot of them. But with three of the cars ahead of him all using DRS they were not easy to pass. When he got a run on Vettel on lap 64 the world champion defended fairly and Massa paid the price of not activating his DRS in the first zone.

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Ricciardo grabs his chance

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014Ahead of them Rosberg had settled back down into a rhythm. “Once I re-sorted my braking points and everything – because I arrived with so much less speed – so once I sorted out those out, then the power one was actually OK,” he said.

“But the brakes, that was more difficult because I also had to run the brake balance forwards, very very far forwards just to use the front much more, so it was just much more difficult with front locking, and to find my way with that.”

But with Perez increasingly struggling for tyre life and dealing with an electrical problem, Rosberg was able to keep ahead at the all-important DRS detection point. That in turn allowed Ricciardo onto the tail of the Force India, and on lap 66 he bravely dived around the outside at turn one and prised second place out of Perez’s hands with two wheels in the dirt.

“He was driving well and wasn’t making any mistakes and realistically I needed a bit of a mistake from him because they were just getting off the corner so well,” said Ricciardo.

“But then I think, yeah, he got quite close to Nico and perhaps just overshot the braking a little bit in the last chicane. I managed to just stay with him on the exit, get the tow and use the DRS. I knew we were strong braking into turn one, we were really quick into there so, yeah, once I had the outside line free I just basically went in and made it work.”

Now the chase was on and a few laps later came a most unusual sight: a Red Bull slipstreaming past a Mercedes on a straight. Rosberg could do nothing to defend and was finally forced to surrender what might have been an incredible victory in adversity.

Last-lap smash

Vettel, meanwhile, was unhappy his team had brought him in for his second stop when they did. He’s been stuck behind Hulkenberg during his second stint and believed he should have stayed out until the Force India driver pitted.

“As we saw, until the end there was no way to get past for us down the straights,” said Vettel, who made an unsuccessful move on the Force India on lap 23.

“The Mercedes-powered cars were just too quick. Equally we were in trouble defending to the Williams behind. Basically I was asking to do something with strategy, which I think was possible.

“On the pit wall they have a much better overview but in my case they didn’t really help me to create something different and to use the pace we clearly had. So in the end I pitted and also lost a position to Daniel.”

Nonetheless Vettel grabbed his chance to pass Perez at the end of the penultimate lap. But it all went wrong when Massa tried to follow him by.

They were in the right-hand kink before the first real corner when the pair made contact. Massa appeared to be following the curvature of the road, and Perez jinked left, leading to a catstrophic collision. Both drivers made heavy contact with the tyre wall and were fortunate to escape without injury following a check-up in hospital.

The carnage handed fourth place to Jenson Button, who had pounced on Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso at the hairpin on the previous lap.

It was a forgettable weekend for Ferrari, as Raikkonen only took tenth thanks to the last lap shunt after spinning on his own at the hairpin, much as he had in practice. Ahead of him were Bottas, Jean-Eric Vergne and Kevin Magnussen.

Ricciardo takes first win

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014When the Safety Car came out in response to the last-lap crash it virtually guaranteed Ricciardo the win. He duly crossed the line to collect his first ever grand prix victory, and a totally unexpected one at a track which historically has not suited Red Bull.

“I’m just really pleased that I was able to really capitalise today on the opportunity,” he said afterwards. “I could see it in front, when Nico was there and Perez was in between us. I was like, ‘if we can just get Perez I think we’ll be able to make a charge on Nico’. Really pleased.”

“It’s going to take a little bit to sink in but OK, so very proud, great to hear the Aussie anthem. It’s been a few years since I won a race, I think 2011, Monaco in World Series or something, so like three years, it’s a long time, standing on a top step. It’s a feeling I missed a lot.”

After a performance like that, you wouldn’t bet on it taking him three years to score another.

Images © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty, Williams/LAT

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72 comments on Ricciardo seizes chance to put one over Mercedes and clinch first win

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  1. Tyler (@tdog) said on 9th June 2014, 2:38

    Great review as always Keith.

    One small point, Dan was right about his last WSR win. He won at the Circuit de Catalunya in 2010, but the only win in his 2011 campaign came at Monaco. He missed the WSR Barcelona round in 2011 because he was racing for HRT at Suzuka.

  2. Theo Parkinson (@theo-hrp) said on 9th June 2014, 2:41

    Thank you for the great recap.

  3. HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th June 2014, 2:48

    Had Mercedes instituted team orders giving either driver the automatic win then they would have pulled off an easy 1-2 cruising around 10-20 seconds ahead of the field, not overheating the components that failed due to the stress of battle. Let’s hope that the Daimler Benz board do not over rule the race policy of letting the drivers race, they suffered a loss but found a weakness that could have been far more expensive later in the season as other teams find more performance and the ability to put the MBs under pressure.

    • Stretch (@stretch) said on 9th June 2014, 4:32

      @hohum No way the Mercs could have an easy 1-2, team orders doesn’t magically remove the charging cars behind them. From lap 37, they could only afford to lose max 6 tenths every lap where clearly on average they lost more than that. Nico was lucky in the fact the FI held the pace back for so long allowing him to ‘ease’ the car home, otherwise easily would have been 4-5th or even DNF like his mate.

      • Diego (@ironcito) said on 9th June 2014, 5:05

        We will never know what would’ve happened, but having both Mercedes cars just cruising in tandem without fighting each other would certainly have been much easier on the cars.

        What I find incredible is that both Mercs had the exact same problem on the exact same lap. Practically at the same point of the lap, even, because the gap between them never changed much.

        • Stretch (@stretch) said on 9th June 2014, 5:32

          @ironcito Unbelievable timing, such a busy race.

        • Damonw said on 9th June 2014, 8:54

          Smells rather fishy to me tbh, more like one car got the problem but the other one was sabotaged.

          • Aled Davies (@aledinho) said on 9th June 2014, 9:40

            Why on earth would they sabotage their own car? and which Car? Hamilton’s or Rosberg’s would they sabotage?

          • Damonw said on 10th June 2014, 11:36

            What are the odds on both cars getting the same problem at the same time??

            Strange how one car didn’t do too bad in the end, at one point Rosberg was lapping seconds a lap slower then all of a sudden he was back on the pace.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th June 2014, 7:45

        @stretch, read @ironcito and @denhugh to understand my point.

    • Dennis the menace (@) said on 9th June 2014, 6:02

      Yes I was thinking the same. If they weren’t pushing so hard to beat each other and just followed in procession about 1/2 a sec slower per lap they may not have had the ERS nor brake issues. Of course this is only a conclusion arrived at in hindsight. They may have still had the issues. We are not to know. Now though they have shown some vulnerability. I’m really looking forward to Redbull improving and making the c’ship battle exciting especially after the summer break where traditionally Red Bull are on tracks suitable for their set up.

      • greg-c (@greg-c) said on 9th June 2014, 14:57

        These merc guys are NEVER going to ride along in procession, its a fight to the death , and death is the bloke who is runner up, WDC is at stake,
        Rosberg , believes its his for hard work developing cars for Merc for years with minimal glory and few trophies ,
        Hamilton, believes its his right as supa-rapper-gangster-F1-mega-$$$-star.

        Believes=my assumption which means Squat really,

    • kpcart said on 9th June 2014, 15:05

      @HoHum, I don’t think team orders is needed in any case, as merc are so far ahead in the championship that applying team orders would be detrimental. they can afford to lose several races like this and still win the championship, but if they apply team orders it will have a more negative effect I believe then losing 1 or 2 races. f1 fans do not like team orders, and at the end of the day the result will be the same, Mercedes 1 and 2 in the championship, so Mercedes can afford several races like this. ofcourse it would be different altogether if the series was on a level playing field with engine parity, but for this year Mercedes are laughing.

  4. Tim said on 9th June 2014, 3:24

    Great blow-by-blow. Thank you very much.

  5. Valhyre (@ausuma) said on 9th June 2014, 3:57

    Man… seeing Checo and Massa crash was not good for my heart.
    Those 2 top my ranking of favorite drivers and seeing them crash that hard,ending their amazing races was hard.
    But it was a fantastic race.

  6. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 9th June 2014, 4:01

    “He was closer than ever when they reached the final chicane on lap 25 and Rosberg braked too late, sailed across the run-off area and did so quickly enough to set a new fastest lap – which stood until the end as his best of the race.”

    Maybe they should introduce a sort of a delta to avoid such things. To set his personal fastest lap after cutting such a massive chunk of the chicane isn’t fair at all…

    Anyway… a great race for a racing fan. It had everything! I really loved it. It was sad about the crash in the end, I was really worried. It happened so fast, at such a speed. Vettel was SO lucky, or should I say skilled, because he just saw Massa coming and somehow avoided him…

    • timi (@timi) said on 9th June 2014, 11:03

      @fer-no65 The weird thing is, there’s a clear rule in qualy that states a lap set when a driver has exceeded track limits, will be discounted. Apparently that doesn’t follow over to the race, which is yet another FIA faux pas.

  7. David not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 9th June 2014, 4:10

    I still wish Vettel won the race.

    Or it could turn into one of those seasons where Vettel catches up after the summer break, a la 2010

    • trotter said on 9th June 2014, 4:34

      @davidnotcoulthard
      To be fair, it’s always pretty much a case of Red Bull catching up, or to be more precise, extending their already existent advantage to the point where Vettel can just take poles and wins from poles without really pushing himself too much.

    • ME4ME (@me4me) said on 9th June 2014, 5:12

      I agree. Traffic ruined his race. All he could show was his defensive skills rather than quick lap times being behind the Force Indias. Both RB drivers drove a good race however.

  8. trotter said on 9th June 2014, 4:33

    Can’t help feeling it’s Hamilton’s own fault that his brakes gave up, while Rosberg’s lasted. I mean, with brakes already overheating due to the MGU-K failure, he cooks them up, instead of nursing them to the end. Finishing 7 or 3 points behind Rosberg wouldn’t be a big deal, but finishing 18 points behind is a very big deal.

    • Aled Davies (@aledinho) said on 9th June 2014, 9:41

      I’m not sure he or mercedes knew about the brakes being an issue to be honest.

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 9th June 2014, 15:41

      Do you think that Hamilton was reading the telemetry and doing calculations to know how much mechanical brake to use to avoid using them up? In fact, Hamilton’s failure was the most important piece of “telemetry” for Rosberg in the race—after Hamilton’s brakes failed, the team gave Nico emergency instructions on setting the car so it would finish, which was probably a matter of spending a couple terrifying laps using no rear brakes at all. The team showed rather poorly in this regard. They first did not realize that the MGU-K would shut down and be unresettable in a certain temperature curve and second they did not advise the proper accommodating measures until the obvious secondary effect (rear brake failure) became critical. The fact that he spent 15-20 laps withing 2s of Rosberg could not have helped. Ricciardo was being instructed to find free air to cool his car. I don’t recall Hamilton being told any such thing, even after the MGU issues cropped up. (Whether he would have heeded them is another thing.)

      • BWH said on 10th June 2014, 5:01

        I think Rosberg’s engineers may have been on to the overheating issue at the rear end well before the fact – demonstrated by the radio message that they knew they had a different, and seemingly slower, brake bias to the front and that they apparently stuck to it – the lockup into the chicane.

  9. VMaxMuffin (@vmaxmuffin) said on 9th June 2014, 5:07

    Very happy to see Daniel Ricciardo take his first win. I think he was very deserving of it, he was very quick in the race (and remember he was only about 0.05s slower than Vettel in qualifying, that just happened to be the difference between 3rd and 6th).

  10. VMaxMuffin (@vmaxmuffin) said on 9th June 2014, 5:08

    Oh and also, does anyone know if there’s a view of the Massa/Perez crash from Vettel’s point of view? I was hoping there’d be an onboard shown in the coverage to show how close it was, but there wasn’t (at least not here in Australia).

  11. IDR (@idr) said on 9th June 2014, 5:31

    Great analysis Keith, and no any single word about Ferrari. That means a lot about how they performed yesterday, and how they are performing this year.

  12. Zain Siddiqui (@powerslidepowerslide) said on 9th June 2014, 5:40

    The performances of my two favorite drivers this season (Kimi and Massa) are beginning to depress me. Some of it has been down to bad luck (for both of them), yes, but I wanna see them pull through, dang it!!!

  13. mantresx (@mantresx) said on 9th June 2014, 6:07

    So running with the petrol engine alone these 2014 cars are 2.5 seconds slower, for all the money they’ve spent developing the energy recovery systems it seems like a very small boost in lap time, which is what Patrick Head was saying the other day.

    I know the priorities are in fuel consumption, but maybe the next formula should go back to lighter, non-hyibrid super efficient engines to achieve this goal instead of overcomplicating things by switching back and forward from kinetic to electric energy and all the loses that come with it.

    • Jonathan189 (@jonathan189) said on 9th June 2014, 9:02

      2.5 seconds of extra lap time from 0kg of extra fuel is pretty impressive in my view.

      • Eric (@) said on 9th June 2014, 10:53

        @jonathan189

        Not if you consider the fact that these cars a re a lot heavier than their non-hybrid predecessors. 10 kg amounts to about 3 tenths. F1 cars used to be 605 kg, now they weigh 691. That difference amounts to 2.5 seconds easily.

        • timi (@timi) said on 9th June 2014, 11:06

          @baron-2 @mantresx It was only their MGU-K’s that failed. It’s unfair to slate the whole hybrid PU as being a bad idea, since we don’t have exact figures on the MGU-H as well. Heck, if that gives them 5s a lap, everything you’ve said counts for nothing. I’d advise not jumping to conclusions pal

          • Eric (@) said on 9th June 2014, 12:34

            @timi

            Mercedes said Rosberg was 160 horsepower down and driving solely on the combustion engine.

          • timi (@timi) said on 9th June 2014, 14:44

            Well Tot Wolff here mentions MGU-K explicitly so I’m going off that, but if you have a source stating it was just the ICE in use I’ll be more than happy to go off of that

          • DaveW (@dmw) said on 9th June 2014, 15:47

            The MGU-H recorvers energy from exhaust so it’s technical true to say the car was running ICU-only, but the car can store power from the turbo on the overrun. The car was probably still quite more powerful than a regular 1.6l turbo with a waste-gate system. Indeed, I suspect that they were using the battery to accelerate the turbo heavily, because there was no way Rosberg was holding off RBR on the straight for so long without any MGU-K otherwise. I speculate that eventually they could not harvest enough from the MGU-H to keep this up forever and had to let one lap and one position go, and were able to recharge to hold onto P2.

          • Eric (@) said on 9th June 2014, 16:43

            @timi

            Ted Kravitz spoke to Paddy Lowe and Paddy Lowe said, and I quote;
            “Well we had one problem that affected both cars on exactly the same lap, which is a failure of the hybrid system. So as you saw at the end Nico was running with far less power down the straight because he was just running on IC engine alone.”

          • timi (@timi) said on 10th June 2014, 0:07

            @baron-2 Well that explains it then. They generally include MGU-H in with the ICE because it gets hp from the ICE itself. (the heat and exhaust gases given off). So while he didn’t explicitly say ICE + MGU-H, the mere fact he made no mention of an MGu-H failure, implies that ICE is lumped in with it, and Rosberg was running with both of those still functioning

          • Eric (@) said on 10th June 2014, 16:47

            He excpicitly said ‘a failure of the hybrid system’. As far as I know the hybrid system is the ERS that gives the 160 hp. Also, even if the MGU-H didn’t fail that doesn’t mean that Rosberg could still use the energy recovered by the MGU-H.
            Just like Vettel wasn’t able to use any energy in Australia.

        • Jonathan189 (@jonathan189) said on 9th June 2014, 17:58

          @baron-2 Fair point. But I bet they will get lighter. After all, this is the first year of true hybrid technology. The manufacturers have had a lot longer to work out how an IC engine works!

          • Eric (@) said on 10th June 2014, 16:38

            @jonathan189

            The systems will undoubtedly get lighter as they are improved. However, it seems the FIA wants to increase the weight of the cars even more…

            So all this jibber jabber about fuel economy and road car relevance from the FIA makes no sense to me.

  14. Sri Harsha (@harsha) said on 9th June 2014, 6:16

    You Beauty RIC you won the Canadian Grandprix The young Australian is going from strength to strength,
    Also I should say both RBR drivers drove a fault less race right from the start and Renault Guys cant get any better big boost than this and i hope they give more BHP so that Renault Powered cars can Overtake other Merc Powered cars on Straights, Then only we can see RBR can take fight to Mercedes

  15. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 9th June 2014, 6:21

    “When he got a run on Vettel on lap 64 the world champion defended fairly and Massa paid the price of not activating his DRS in the first zone.”

    I was screaming at the TV when I saw this! I honestly couldn’t believe Massa had made such a basic error, particularly given how difficult it was to overtake and that Massa would have been able to see Vettel was using DRS. I’m trying so hard to root for Massa now he is at Williams, he seems to be on the up and up again, but errors like this are just infuriating.

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