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Engine upgrades pay off for Ferrari, Lotus and Williams


Vettel and Raikkonen were placed 2nd and 3rd at the end of the second practice session, ahead of Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes is towed following a crash at the final chicane at the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix

Results following free practice at the Canadian Grand Prix were a deviation from the Mercedes norm that has been set this Formula One season. Lewis Hamilton continued his leading streak, continuing the second of two immensely successful seasons, the previous concluding with him being crowned World Champion. Although he has lost the last two Grands Prix on the trot to teammate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s last loss, at the Monaco Grand Prix, was caused due to errors on the part of Mercedes crew, as Hamilton was not only on pole but leading the pack for a large part of the race, until a delay at an unnecessary pit stop and an erroneously estimated lead cost him the victory. He ended that Grand Prix in 3rd, visibly disappointed with his performance. 

Setting the time for the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton finished his 22 laps in 1:15.988, followed by both Ferraris. In spite of a crash following his car aquaplaning, Hamilton was the leader by the end of the second session.

The top 5 was, in a shock result, rounded off by Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado. 

Prior to the Canadian Grand Prix, Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda all chose to use tokens for mid-season engine upgrades, and this definitely seems to have reflected in the results. Lotus, running on Mercedes power units, have done extremely well following the second free practice session. While Pastor Maldonado came in 5th, his teammate, Romain Grosjean of France, in 7th. They were broken up by another driver on a Mercedes motor – the Williams of Felipe Massa. 

Ferrari have consistently made the podium all season, but usually accompanied both Mercedes drivers. With 10 development tokens remaining, the Prancing Horse used three on a combustion system upgrade, with changes to the cylinder block and unit. The move seems to have paid off entirely, with both drivers now looking poised to make the podium. 

The Iceman has been on one podium this season – at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain, where he finished 2nd, while Vettel has been on every other podium and had one win, at Sepang in Malaysia. Vettel was on super-soft tyres and Raikkonen on the soft, and experts say the upgrades have contributed an extra 15bhp in terms of power. 

Both Toto Wolff, team principal at Mercedes, and Christian Horner of Red Bull expressed concern, with Wolff saying Ferrari’s pre-race simulations showed they were “extremely fast” and the team “needed to be taken seriously.”

Horner described them as “seriously quick”, saying they “look very strong on race-simulations.”

Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus seem to look set for a good racing weekend, while McLaren-Honda’s streak of bad luck continues with Fernando Alonso in 15th and Jenson Button in 18th following a rain-urtailed second practice session.

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