After Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel took full advantage of Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying woes in Monaco, F1 heads to Canada, and a track that Lewis Hamilton has made his own over the years.
With Lewis tending to bounce back after an off weekend, what chance will his rivals have in Canada? We look at the form of the main protagonists around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve over the years.
Lewis Hamilton – Starts 9, Pole Positions 5, Wins 5
Lewis took his first pole and victory here in his rookie season in 2007 ahead of double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso, and has always looked like he is driving at another level around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He has five pole positions and five victories here, and has looked unbeatable at the track on out and out pace. In 9 attempts he has out qualified his team-mates 8 times – and the only time he was beaten (in 2014 by Nico Rosberg) he looked to have a pace advantage but locked up at Turn 8 while chasing Nico’s time on his final qualifying run. Some great odds to be had for those that bet as Lewis has never finished a race here and been off the podium, and has never finished and been behind his team-mate. Mechanical trouble with his Mercedes cost him the chance for victory in 2014, while he crashed out of 2 other races. After the high of winning his first Grand Prix in 2007, he lost out on a race that looked to be his the following year when he crashed into the stationary Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen who was waiting for the pit exit to open during a safety car period! While the 2008 mistake was clearly on Lewis, he lost out in 2011 in more controversial fashion after colliding with McLaren team-mate Jenson Button while attempting to overtake on the start/finish straight – with Button having claimed not to see Lewis in the wet conditions and pushed him into the pit wall –with Jenson going on to add insult to injury by taking the race win with a last gap pass of Sebastian Vettel!
Valtteri Bottas – Starts 4, Best Grid Position 3rd, Best Result 3rd (twice)
While Jenson Button may have offered a stock car style blueprint for drivers to beat Lewis in the same car in 2011, Valtteri will be hoping he can take the fight to Hamilton in a more conventional manner in Canada. Although he has not had the machinery to challenge for victory, Bottas form has also been impressive around the track. His debut in 2013 provided the highlight of the year for a struggling Williams team as he took advantage of the wet conditions to qualify in an amazing third place (team-mate Pastor Maldonado could only manage to qualify in 13th place). In the race the Williams predictably went backwards and slipped out of the points positions in the dry conditions, but that qualifying performance had shown Bottas star potential – and has stayed as Bottas best grid position in Canada so far. Since Williams switched to Mercedes power in 2014 Bottas has always been in the mix. He has been faster in qualifying and finished ahead of his team-mates in each of the 4 Canadian Grand Prix he has started (although after suffering with his brakes he did trail Massa in 2014 prior to Felipe’s late collision with Sergio Perez Force India). Valtteri has been on the podium here for Williams for the last two seasons…don’t expect hat to change now he has a Mercedes at his disposal!
Sebastian Vettel – Starts 8, Pole Positions 3, Wins 1
With just a paltry victory in 8 attempts (by Seb’s standards paltry anyway!), you could be forgiven for thinking Sebastian Vettel doesn’t go well Canada! The fact that Daniel Ricciardo took victory here in 2014 for Red Bull while Vettel could only place third might add to that perception, but beneath the numbers Seb has shown very impressive form around this track. Last year Ferrari let slip a potential victory with a strategy mis-step (or was it the sea-gulls fault!), while it took a rare late lap slip in concentration in 2011 to deny Vettel another victory. In eight starts Vettel has outqualified his team-mates 5-3, but again the numbers are misleading – he was unable to participate in qualifying in 2008 after crashing in practice, and suffered mechanical woe in 2015 for Ferrari. In fact the only time he was beaten ‘fairly and squarely’ in qualifying here by a team-mate was by Mark Webber in 2010 – and even then Vettel started ahead as Webber took a grid penalty for changing his gearbox! Vettel’s race performances have been better than the trophy cabinet might suggest too. In the races he has beaten his team-mates to the chequered flag 6-2 – of his two ‘failures’ one was a brilliant recovery drive that saw him finish on the tail of Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in 2015 and the other was the Ricciardo win in 2014 – taking nothing away from Ricciardo, but it’s easy to forget that was a race Vettel could easily have won. Those furious at Ferrari’s Monaco strategy might recall that Seb was well clear of Daniel in Canada early in the race that year, but after losing lots of time behind the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, was overcut as Daniel set quick times with clear air as Seb struggled with out lap traffic (losing time behind the Ferrari of Raikkonen of all cars!), Red Bull having pulled Seb in to react to an attempt by Bottas in the Williams to get the undercut on Vettel – with strategy, you win some, you lose some!
Kimi Raikkonen – Starts 13, Best Grid Positon 3rd, Wins 1
Amazingly, Kimi has never started from the front row in Canada, a track where he has never enjoyed much good fortune (being taken out in the pit lane by Hamilton’s McLaren a sign of that!). He has managed just one win here, back in 2005 for McLaren, and added his only other podium with a third place finish for McLaren in 2006 – in two stints with Ferrari his best result here was fourth in 2015, a race which did not flatter him as he barely led Vettel at the finish – even though Seb had started down in 18th place after trouble in qualifying. In fact since returning to Ferrari in 2014 he has been well off the pace of Alonso and Vettel and really struggled here, particularly at the hairpin, spinning his Ferrari there in both 2014 and 2015! Overall Kimi has outqualified his team-mates 8-5 here, but his record is only 3-5 in races where both he and his team-mate have finished.
Daniel Ricciardo – Starts 5, Best Grid Position 4th, Wins 1
Despite his breakthrough win here in 2014 for Red Bull, Canada has not been one of Ricciardo’s better tracks. Even in 2014 he was outqualified by the second Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, and while he grabbed the opportunity for victory with both hands as the Mercs struggled with their brakes, it would be wrong to think he was out and out faster than Seb on the day. In fact Ricciardo has been outqualified and outraced here 3-2 by his team-mates over the years, and that 2014 race aside, he has not managed to finish better than seventh position here.
Max Verstappen – Starts 2, Best Grid Position 5th, Best Result 4th
Looking at the numbers, Max has actually been outqualified here in both his seasons in F1 to date – but last year was in only his third race with Red Bull – and he did manage to outperform Daniel Ricciardo in the race, putting in a spirited defence late on to deny the recovering Mercedes of Nico Rosberg (Nico having dropped behind with a puncture late on). Max was edged in qualifying by Carlos Sainz in his first season with Toro Rosso, but penalties incurred meant he was never likely to get on terms in the race.