2015 Canadian Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Hamilton Notches Fourth Canada Win

After the disappointment of having victory snatched from his grasp in Monaco, Lewis Hamilton responded in fine fashion, taking victory in a tense game of cat and mouse at the head of the field with teammate Nico Rosberg. The gap may have fluctuated but ultimately, it seemed as though the championship leader was in control of proceedings. Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas claimed his first podium of the season, demoting Ferrari off of the rostrum for the first time this season. While some commentators suggested that the race lacked the typical Canadian sparkle, I beg to differ.

Palpable Tension

The scrap for top honours in Montreal was red hot, requiring a cool head throughout. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg drove imperiously throughout the 70 lap distance and the dynamic of the battle was fascinating. High-speed tug of war was played out before our eyes, as whenever Rosberg seemed poised to mount an attack on his chief rival, Hamilton eked out an all important margin.

In truth, Hamilton seemed in control throughout and even when Rosberg posted headline times, the latent speed in car number 44 proved superior. It was, however, an excellent effort from the German and had he qualified ahead of his adversary, the win may have been at his mercy. It was one of THOSE Mercedes duels that tease throughout without quite igniting. The anticipation of some wheel to wheel action, which ultimately was the missing element of the fight for first, was perhaps the reason for some feeling rather short-changed after the race.

Strong Finnish

The battle to be top Finn in Montreal was billed to be intense and in many regards, it delivered. Valtteri Bottas made the most of Sebastian Vettel’s Saturday misfortune, taking the fight to a stumbling Kimi Raikkonen and snatching his first podium of 2015. The wait for a trophy this season has been far longer than many predicted for the Grove squad and similarly to last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, it has been somewhat of a breakthrough weekend for Williams.

While Bottas was at his ice-cool best, Raikkonen appeared unsettled in yesterday’s race, never demonstrating the lightning pace which he displayed on Friday afternoon. A spin at the hairpin after a suspected power-spike summed up a difficult day. Contrast this with a brilliant recovery drive from teammate Sebastian Vettel and the Finn finished just four seconds ahead of his opposite number come the chequered flag.

The most surprising element of the entire race was the Ferrari’s lack of pace on the super-soft tyre. After performing a burnout after his spin which would have drawn top mark at X-Games, Raikkonen was forced to make a second stop, but despite emerging on the stickiest of Pirelli rubber and setting the fastest lap of the race early in the stint, he failed to close the gap to Bottas. Curious, particularly considering that the Scuderia have demonstrated both in 2014 and 2015, that the super-soft works well with their package.

Woking Woes

While the nature of Montreal was always going to highlight the weaknesses of the McLaren Honda package, the Canadian Grand Prix was disastrous for the team. A double retirement – compounded by rivals streaming past a defenseless Fernando Alonso on the straights – signalling the scale of the task ahead.

Having spent two of their nine available tokens ahead of Canada, some improvement was expected but of course, reliability driven modifications to the powertrain do not come at the expense of tokens and therefore, there remains vast parameters by which Honda can improve. The four points in Monaco demonstrated the potential in the chassis and it is Honda’s role to try and unlock it. It may have been painful viewing for a McLaren fan, but given the expertise at Honda, the trials and tribulations will prove valuable in moving forward.

Conclusions

Driver of the Day

Sebastian Vettel

The German was once again on hand to prove just how wrong the critics who claimed he could not race really were. The Canadian Grand Prix of 2015 can be added to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of 2012 in his list of great recovery drives and despite his teammate’s adventures, finishing only four seconds behind Raikkonen was a sublime achievement in the circumstances. Williams will surely acknowledge that had Vettel started in his customary top three position, a podium finish would likely have been unattainable.

Overtake of the Race

MASSA vs Ericsson

Who says that F1 lacks swashbuckling, wheel-to-wheel dicing. Felipe Massa and Marcus Ericsson provided one of the highlights of the race. Following a strong defense from the Swede which had seen him halt Massa’s progress for several laps, the experienced Brazilian tried a rather audacious move around the outside of Turn One, taking the inside line for Turn Two. Battling with handfuls of oversteer on the exit and a Sauber which was unperturbed on the outside, the two finally resolved their head-to-head by Turn Three, with Massa taking the spoils. An intense, clean and exciting encounter which should make the grade for the annual end of season montages.

Team of the Weekend

Williams

The costly powerunit issue on Saturday afternoon was the only blot on an otherwise clean copybook for Williams, who carried out a textbook weekend. The team have made significant progress over the past weeks and despite a lapse in Monaco, they bounced back in sublime fashion. They may not command the resources that their rivals do, but Williams are proving once again that in-season development is their forte.

Race Result

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
6 Felipe Massa Williams
7 Pastor Maldonado Lotus
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus
11 Sergio Perez Force India
12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso
13 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber
15 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber
17 Will Stevens Manor

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