Today the red cars of Ferrari return to the Isle of Notre Dame for the 2022 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in less than optimal conditions after the bad three races in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Baku. Engine-related fears are holding sway: Charles Leclerc will have to fit his third power unit of the F1 season, thus incurring a big 10 place penalty for Canada, a disaster for the Monagasque.
In Azerbaijan came the double retirement of the driver from Monaco and Carlos Sainz, with the number 16 now slipping to third place in the drivers’ standings, also overtaken by Sergio Pérez’s Red Bull. Max Verstappen, on the other hand, is trying to break clear after his fifth win of the season last Sunday (it would be six if the Imola Sprint Race is taken into account).
Leclerc’s week, meanwhile, did not get off to a good start, as he announced in one of his Instagram stories: he missed the plane that was supposed to take him to America.
In Canada, as in Baku, engine and traction count. The straights are interspersed with hard braking and a couple of hairpins, with very little exit speed. It’s a litmus test for Ferrari, called upon to respond by fans and management after Leclerc’s engine failures in Barcelona and Azerbaijan.
As far as tyre wear is concerned, Canada is less aggressive than other circuits. The track guarantees lower speeds than those seen at Baku, as well as a less abrasive asphalt, therefore able to degrade the tyres less.
Teams should each have a longer pit window as tyre use will be longer. The strategy in the race could be a one-stop strategy, with the drivers ahead starting on medium tyres and then aiming for the hard white and making it to the finish. But a multi-stop tactic is also possible, given that the pit lane at Montréal is one of the shortest, for total stops of less than 20 seconds, among the quicker times on the F1 calendar, between entry, tyre change and exit. For this race, Pirelli has chosen the softest compounds in the range, able to guarantee more grip.
So actually, if Leclerc is to take a big penalty, this is the track to do it at with plenty of overtaking opportunities and alternative pit strategies.