F1 2017: Canadian Grand Prix Preview
Formula 1 is back this week and round 7 of the 2017 F1 world championship takes place in Montreal, Canada.
The 70-lap race will take place at the legendary Circuit De Gilles Villeneuve named in honour famous Canadian formula 1 racer Gilles Villeneuve. Located on the Ile Notre-Dame, the circuit first hosted its first grand prix in 1978 which to the delight of the Canadians was won by Gilles Villeneuve in his Ferrari. After his tragic death, the circuit’s name was changed in his honor and has been the setting for some mind-blowing racing for the past 40 years.
Michael Schumacher holds the record for most race wins with Lewis Hamilton being the second most successful driver with 5 race wins to his name. It was also the place where Jean Alesi took his 1st and only race win driving the no.27 Ferrari which incidentally was also the number of Ferrari driven by Gilles Villeneuve.
Home race for Lance Stroll
It’s been 11 years since a Canadian driver raced in his home grand prix, the last being Jacques Villeneuve for BAR Honda.
Lance Stroll has had a torrid start to his F1 career and so far, his performances have been underwhelming. The young Canadian has been consistently outpaced by his much experienced team-mate Felipe Massa, that too when Massa’s not at his prime.
In every race so far, there has been about a second’s gap between him and Massa in qualifying and the performances in the race have also been one-sided.
So far, Williams have been defending the young teenager citing the criticism as “Grossly Unfair”.
Williams team principal, Claire Williams has described Stroll’s career comparable to debut season of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel which in my opinion is absurd as both Raikkonen and Vettel showed some blistering pace at some point during their debut season.
So, will we see some home magic from the young Canadian? Well, Williams have always been quick around Montreal, they got a solid podium last year with Valtteri Bottas and with the Mercedes engine at the back of the car, they should be in the hunt for some solid points and maybe a podium if lucky.
Can Mercedes overhaul Ferrari?
Ferrari’s strong display of pace in Monaco underlined the fact that after nearly 10 years, the 2017 Scuderia Ferrari is a complete package and a race winning contender at almost every race on the F1 calendar.
Now does that concern Mercedes? I think the answer to that is a definite “Yes”.
After their disappointing show in Monaco where both the Mercedes failed to even make the podium, and to put it bluntly that is not something that we have seen much over the past, 3-4 years, Niki Lauda remarked, "Vettel needs to retire at least once, otherwise it's all over."
It’s been no secret that the setting up the car has been a tough task, so much so that Toto Wolff labelled it as the “Diva” in Monaco.
The car is no doubt fast and a challenger to Ferrari but the performances seem to vary based on tyre and track characteristics. Now, is that because of the long wheel-base? That question remains unanswered.
Going by the form-book of the past few years, Canada has been a favourite hunting ground for the Mercedes and with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas having had very strong performances in the past, the Merc’s are going to be a force to reckon with.
But, the big question is, can they overhaul the Ferrari boys?
Going by the way 2017 season has shaped up, I think Ferrari is going to be up there with the Mercedes but judging by the track layout plus the mighty Mercedes power unit, they seem to have the upper hand going into Canada.
This is what Toto Wolff had to say, “I’m expecting an interesting weekend in Canada. It could be a tricky race for us in terms of the layout of the track. But, equally, it’s a circuit that suits both of our drivers. Lewis (Hamilton) has won a number of times in the past and Valtteri (Bottas) has always gone strongly there for Williams. It will be about doing our homework right to give the drivers the car they need to succeed.
“We have two excellent drivers and we will hold true to our philosophy of letting them race each other to drive the team forward – even if sometimes it can be difficult because you can’t always have the one who is ahead in the championship winning.
“It’s painful, but we are not the favourites for this year’s championship. At the moment it’s Ferrari. They have a very strong package and we need to rise to the challenge to prove once again that we are the team to beat. There are still 14 races left and everything is completely open. We’re looking forward to Montreal and the chance to bounce back with a strong result – hopefully producing valuable answers to some tough questions in the process.”
Are Renault on the verge of sacking Palmer?
Jolyon Palmer and his problems seem to be a never ending story, The Brit has had a nightmare of a start to his 2nd F1 season with him failing to score any points till date while his team mate Nico Hulkenberg has bagged 14.
The Brit has been consistently outpaced by his German teammate in all of the qualifying sessions with his best performance being a 10th place, that too a second off his teammate.
Now, it’s true that Palmer has had his fair share of mechanical problems and at this stage it would be unfair to sack him for a new unexperienced driver. But he, like Lance Stroll, needs to up his game soon.
Adding to the misery of Palmer, has been the news of Robert Kubica testing a 2012 Renault at a private test session held by Renault. Now, I know its all rumours but having a talent like Robert Kubica back in Renault is definitely going to be a very alluring prospect to the Renault management provided he is back up to speed.
Can Mclaren end their point-less drought?
Mclaren Honda have had a nightmare of a start to their 2017 campaign, with the Honda powerunit proving to be unreliable and grossly underperforming.
The team have had engine problems at almost every race of the season and from now on, both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne are likely to incur some sort of penalty for change of power unit components as their allocation for this year has already been exhausted.
This, coupled the fact that the circuit is power-demanding, adds to Mclaren’s woes. Also, earlier Honda had planned a powerunit update for Montreal but now that looks unlikely, so expect Mclaren-Honda to continue their woeful form through this weekend as well.
The circuit is a predominantly a low-downforce one with some very heavy braking points and the famous last turn “wall of champions”.
The circuit is power demanding so it’s always a challenge for the engine manufacturers and there have been major engine updates for Montreal over the past few years.
The 70-lap race is very hard on the brakes and its not uncommon to see brake failures at the tail end of grand prix so teams will need to manage the brake temperature and wear which is typically more worse when running in traffic.
Another important feature of this race track is the presence of lot of chicanes which makes for some exciting racing, particularly the last chicane. In 1999, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve crashed, thus giving it the name of “wall of champions”.
There are 2 DRS Zones one after the hairpin (turn10) through the long back straight and one after the last chicane (turn14).
Main overtaking areas are the hairpin (T10), the long back straight (T13,14) and at the end of start-finish straight (T1).
Pirelli are bringing the soft, supersoft and the ultra soft tyres and this is the allocation of each driver,