Canadian Grand Prix: Weekend Preview

The Circuit De Gilles Villeneuve is a favorite among many sectors of the Formula One paddock. It has played host to many classic races down the years; Most notably, Jenson Button’s unlikely triumph in 2011, after the Brit traveled through the pits six times during the race. Coincidentally, it was the longest race in the history of the sport, following a lengthy red flag period during a characteristically wet day in Montreal. Rain is forecast for Friday and Saturday, so a few surprises may be on the cards.

Hamilton Fears High Degradation

Lewis Hamilton is somewhat of a Canadian specialist. With three victories at the circuit in his short career, this is a statement which is difficult to deny. On a two stop strategy last season, Hamilton managed to past both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in the final few laps as their tyres began to suffer. However, the significance of his new team’s tyre woes this season could spell trouble for Hamilton this season as oppose to his competitors. With Mercedes set for a tribunal hearing regarding the infamous ‘tyre-test gate’ the team now have to contend with high levels of degradation once again this weekend, which Hamilton predicts could dictate their weekend. 
Undoubtedly, Nico Rosberg’s victory in Monaco was a result of the circuit characteristics. However, Mercedes realize that Montreal will not allow them to mask their abnormally high degradation. Hamilton acknowledged, “Monaco is one of those tracks that doesn’t really hurt the tyres very often. With good management you can look after them, so I wouldn’t really say we have made a step forward. The problems we had in Barcelona, we’ll still have those going forward until we make some improvements.” While Hamilton may be a specialist around the picturesque circuit, he will be unable to show the full potential of the W04 on Sunday as he and Rosberg become tyre management engineers as oppose to racing drivers. Regardless, it would be brave to bet against Hamilton for Pole Position, as the Mercedes Saturday dominance looks set to continue. Especially since the circuit demands mechanical grip, which Mercedes have in abundance.

Maldonado: “Everything Is OK”

Following his hefty shunt in the Monaco Grand Prix, everyone (especially Max Chilton) were pleased to see Pastor Maldonado emerge from his battered FW35 in tact. The Venezuelan confirmed in today’s drivers press conference that he has fully recovered from the accident and is set for the Canadian Grand Prix weekend. Unquestionably, Williams will require their drivers to be at full strength if they are to challenge for a spot in Q3.
The extensive damage rendered the chassis useless. Consequently, Maldonado will be running a new chassis this weekend. He stated, “The chassis is more or less the same. It will have some new aero parts and hopefully we can solve, maybe not all the problems, but at least make a step forward which we have been expecting for some time.” When asked if he would be driving with discomfort following his accident, Pastor replied, “No, no, I am ok and everything is ok. It was just a case of reset.”
Regarding the team’s development over the past few races, Maldonado added, “It was quite difficult to understand the car at the beginning of the season, particularly at the first race and we have been fighting a lot to try and fix the problems. We have fixed the problems but they are not easy to sort. We have been working very hard, 24 hours a day in the factory, especially in the wind tunnel. The problems are coming from the aerodynamics and we have been trying to make some progress. I think we now understand the car a bit more and hopefully at this race it should be much better for us.” The issues which Williams have been battling to correct have stemmed from a fundamental design flaw in the chassis. Considering the scale of the dilemma, it is unlikely that they will return to form anytime soon.

Sam Micheal Defends Punchy Perez

Sergio Perez has suffered a barrage of criticism following his resurgence in Bahrain. The Mexican continued to demonstrate his aggression in Monaco, yet a collision with Kimi Raikkonen curtailed his race. In Kimi’s words, Perez required a “punch in the face” following a series of potentially dangerous maneuvers. Moreover, Sergio had ruffled the feathers of both his teammate Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, earlier in the race. However, Sam Micheal has suggested that Checo has been undeservedly criticized for what he deems to be “just racing”.
During a McLaren Mercedes Phone-In session, the Sporting Director was asked whether the team had discussed driving standards with Sergio following a controversial race in Monaco. Micheal replied, “It’s an interesting question but ultimately he’s a racing driver and he’s just racing. All of the moves that he did are all moves that have been done by all of those drivers at various points in their career – some recently and some long ago. The overtaking opportunities that are available at the chicane in Monaco are the ones that have been used for a long time before Checo Perez was even born. Ultimately he’s racing for his position. He’s establishing himself and the racing that’s he’s doing all those other drivers have done themselves and that’s Formula 1. It was obviously hard racing but that’s what F1’s meant to be able.”
Evidently, there appears to be some correlation regarding Martin Whitmarsh’s instructions to Perez to “get his elbows out”, prior to the Chinese Grand Prix, and Perez’s recent maneuvers. In which case, McLaren seem to have created the monster which they are now looking to tame. To views more regarding McLaren’s development progress and plans for the weekend, check out yesterday’s article, “Possible Progress For McLaren”.

Final Thoughts

The Canadian Grand Prix is always a classic race. It has historically been filled with drama, excitement and unpredictability. Look out for Mercedes this weekend. The circuit characteristics certainly play into their hands and with Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel anything is possible. However, Nico Rosberg will be looking to assert his position as team leader once and for all, on a circuit which could be described as Hamilton’s back yard. Red Bull will inevitably challenge once again and Ferrari will be looking to recover from a disappointing weekend in Monaco.              

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