The Red Bull story will be a story very central to this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
The team are on the cusp of a decision monumental to the team’s future performance in Formula 1, the transfer of engine supply to Honda. The bosses at Red Bull will be very interested to see how the junior team get on with Honda power around a known ‘power circuit’ in Montreal.
Sky Sports highlight the importance of this weekend after interviewing team boss Christian Horner in Monaco.
“We are about a month or so away. End of June, beginning of July is the timescale we have always talked about.”
“We’re waiting with great interest to see the relative performance of the two engines in Montreal,” confirmed Horner. “It will all depend on the data.”
Using Canadian Grand Prix as a means of testing the two Manufacturer power units – the upgraded Renault and Honda, simply won’t be the possible in Montreal. Renault seem to have made the decision for Red Bull by denying their former number 1 team the latest upgrade destined for McLaren and the Renault works team claiming there to be a ‘limited supply’ of the more powerful upgrade.
Such a move will be another nail in the coffin, forcing Red Bull into the move to Honda, potentially.
So if Red Bull were to have the upgrade, would they be a challenger for the Canadian Grand Prix? Possibly.
Former 2014 Canadian GP race winner Daniel Ricciardo is certainly in form this year. Further, the words of Sebastian Vettel in Monaco reveal just how good the RB14 is: “With all the problems he had, he was still quicker than us,”. A comment on the circuit layout? Perhaps, but we did see team mate Max Vertstappen have no issue moving his way through the field from the back.
The Grand Prix on Sunday will be a very interesting one indeed, and probably a good antidote to the lacklustre Monaco Grand Prix last time out.
What to expect from the Canadian Grand Prix
Anything other than a Lewis Hamilton win? Lewis has always looked supreme around Canada, it’s a track where his driving has always been simply on another level to his peers. Last year saw him equal Ayrton Senna’s pole position record here with a simply stunning lap, and he was never under threat as he coasted to a sixth Canadian Grand Prix victory in the race after Sebastian Vettel took damage from an incoming Max missile as Verstappen brushed passed him into Turn 1 on the opening lap.
Hamilton’s record here is 6 wins, one third place and 3 DNFs, so if he can avoid problems he has to be fancied for the win which would see him tie Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Canadian Grand Prix victories. Lewis has had some bad days here though, clattering into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane in 2008, colliding with his team mate and eventual race winner Jenson Button on the straight in 2011, and retiring with overheating brakes for Mercedes in 2014.
So there is some hope for the opposition, and the weak link for Mercedes this year could be tyres, with Mercedes struggling on the softer compounds, they have taken a notably different approach to tyre selections this weekend than their principal rivals, with both Ferrari and Red Bull loading up on the hypersofts which have not been so kind to Mercedes, so expect both Ferrari and Red Bull to try to put the Mercedes under maximum pressure this weekend!
Last year saw Lewis Hamilton unbothered as he drove to victory here. His most likely challenger Sebastian Vettel was out of the picture after taking damage as he was passed by a fast starting Max Verstappen in the first corner, the problem compounded by Ferrari failing to realize the extent of the damage and missing the opportunity to pit Vettel under the safety car caused by an opening lap collision between Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean that eliminated an unfortunate Felipe Massa.
Verstappen had made a lightning start to climb to second place, but he was forced to retire after just 10 laps as his Red Bull ground to a halt at Turn 2, another disappointing end to a weekend that had promised so much for Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas had fallen behind Verstappen at the start and was never in a position to be a threat to Lewis win.
Daniel Ricciardo came through to take third, while Sebastian Vettel charged his way back to take fourth place, but it was a case of what might have been for Force India and Esteban Ocon, who looked like he might be capable of grabbing a podium, until he got blocked up behind team-mate Sergio Perez, whose determined driving saw him come out top dog at Force India, but with only a fifth place instead of a potential third, hardly the result Force India would have wanted!
The race has seen six drivers take their maiden grand prix victory over the years, including Lewis Hamilton back in 2007 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 (the others were Robert Kubica in 2008, Jean Alesi in 1995. Thierry Boutsen in 1989 and Gilles Villeneuve in 1978). Michael Schumacher holds the record for the most wins with 7 – but Lewis Hamilton has been supreme here ever since his arrival in F1, and after last year’s victory Lewis is within one win of Schumacher’s record having now racked up 6 wins of his own. Apart from Hamilton no current driver has won here more than once, with Daniel Riccardo (Red Bull 2014), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull 2013), Fernando Alonso (Renault 2006) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren 2005) all enjoying a single victory here.
The Canadian Grand Prix first appeared on the F1 calendar back in 1967. The race existed prior to being a round of the F1 championship – the inaugural Canadian Grand Prix was held in 1961 in Mosport Park, with Peter Ryan taking the victory in a Lotus-Climax – a result which would lead to Ryan having his one opportunity to drive in a Grand Prix at the US Grand Prix in Watkins Glen later that year. The first Canadian Grand Prix on the F1 calendar in 1967 saw Jack Brabham the winner at Mosport Park. In the early years the F1 race was alternated between Mosport Park and Mont-Tremblant, but Mosport took the race full time from 1971.
In 1975 the race was cancelled, after the Formula One Constructors Association teams (led by a certain Mr Bernie Ecclestone) refused to attend the race due to contractual issues. The teams had demanded more money, in a move viewed as an early test by Mr Ecclestone of the bargaining power of the teams and to act as a warning marker to the European venues (no teams, no race). An inspirational story for the smaller teams in dire financial conditions today!
The race was back on in 1976, and stayed at Mosport until 1978, when the race was moved to its current home on the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame. Gilles Villeneuve took the first race at the new circuit for Ferrari, and the circuit was renamed in his honour after his tragic death in 1982. The track has hosted a Formula One Grand Prix every year since then with two exceptions, 1987 where a commercial dispute between rival sponsors put paid to the race, and again in 2009 after the organisers failed to agree terms with (that is, would not pay the requested fee to)…Bernie Ecclestone, now in his role as CEO of F1. Interestingly when the teams bemoaned the loss of the Canadian Grand Prix Bernie mused that if the teams wanted to race there so badly they could agree to race there for less money, an interesting turnaround from 1975 indeed!!
Over the years there have been few changes to the circuit, with the main changes being the relocation of the pit lane from just after the hairpin to its current location with a realignment of the run down to turn 1 for the 1988 race, while the hairpin was brought forward to increase run off area in 2002.
The track is flat, with just over 5 m of elevation change, and is characterized predominantly by its long straights punctuated by hard braking for hairpins or chicanes. In between, the circuit winds across kerbs marshalled by barriers and walls that invite contact from drivers pushing to extract the maximum from their cars.
The circuit is low in grip, expect to see plenty of spins during the practice sessions as the track is rubbered in, and is one of the hardest on the calendar in terms of braking with the performance and reliability of the brakes set to be tested to the maximum. The final chicane represents one of the hardest braking points on the entire F1 calendar. There is also always the threat posed by local wildlife, who seem to enjoy coming out to watch the race, the seagull branch of the Ferrari fan club got a bit too close to Sebastian Vettel for comfort in 2016, while a collision with a groundhog cost Anthony Davidson what would have been a career best result in 2007!
There are plenty of potential overtaking opportunities over the course of the lap.
From the starting grid there is a very short run down to Turn 1, with the track winding to the right on approach to the left hander, which feed straight into Turn 2, the long right handed Senna curve. The combination of turns at the start can be a recipe for disaster as the field tightens up, and a poor start can lead to trouble as Sebastian Vettel found out last year as he got clipped by a charging Max Verstapen as the Ferrari got boxed in behind Bottas Mercedes. So as usual we can expect plenty of action here on the opening lap! Once into the race, the first corner presents an opportunity for overtaking, coming at the end of the second DRS activation zone. It has seen plenty of wild attempts over the years, Nico Rosberg and Jarno Trulli performing a perfect display of synchronised spinning here in 2007 as Nico attempted to go around the outside and Jarno got squeezed onto the inside kerb, while Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez suffered a huge collision here in the closing stages of the 2014 race as Felipe attempted to gain a late place.
After winding around the Senna curve there is a short burst up to a tight right left flick through turns 3 and 4. Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean got all tangled up on the straight here last year, with Felipe Massa the innocent victim seeing his race wiped out at Turn 3 as his Williams was collected by the sideways spinning Toro Rosso of Sainz on the opening lap! The combination of kerbs on entry and wall on exit make this section a likely flashpoint during the race. It’s also proved to be a spot where the most optimistic driver can have a go but it’s unlikely to be a smooth pass- Jenson Button prodded Alonso into the wall on the exit of turn 4 during his magic ride in 2011 while Adrian Sutil got himself in a spin trying to go around the high qualifying Valtteri Bottas here in 2013.
From here the track snakes left then right through the trees towards before arriving at turn 6 and 7, a tight left hander immediately followed by a flick to the right, with kerbs and walls again inviting trouble for anyone pushing too hard to gain speed onto the following straight. The cars burst forward and disappear briefly under a bridge before heading into the fast right left combination of turns 8 and 9, again plenty of kerbing to launch a car pushing too much into the waiting wall on the exit of turn 9.
Out of the exit of turn 9 the cars spring pass the DRS detection point and wind to the left down to the chicane at turn 10. This is a favoured spot for wild overtaking attempts. It was on the run down to the chicane that Robert Kubica had his horrific accident in 2007 after going off the track trying to go around Jarno Trulli. The hairpin should provide plenty of action throughout the race, and will be a spot to keep an eye on during the first lap as the field are all bunched together.
From the chicane the cars are on the power, a slight flick through the gentle turns 11 and 11 and 12 as they blast down the back straight and the first DRS activation zone, before breaking hard at the last chicane (Turns 13/14). Scene of many a desperate overtaking manoeuvre over the years, Turn 13 is bound to see plenty of action. Last year home favourite Lance Stroll managed to get by a struggling Fernando Alonso here as Stroll headed for his first ever F1 points finish! With the wall of champions waiting on exit to start another lap, watch for drivers having to bail out of this turn if they get their approach wrong, which can prove all too costly as drivers then lose momentum on the drag down to Turn 1. Sebastian Vettel showed us how to take full advantage of a loss of momentum here last year as Sergio Perez shut the door on teammate Esteban Ocon at the final chicane in a bid to stay top dog at Force India, with Vettel getting the power down early and forcing his way passed Ocon into Turn 1.
TYRES WITH PIRELLI
There’s exactly the same tyre nomination for Canada as for Monaco, but the two venues couldn’t be any more different. Monaco tends to be a track where the start order bears a close resemblance to the finishing order – but in Canada, anything can happen. This is due to a demanding track layout that contains several overtaking opportunities, unpredictable weather, and – this year – the first big challenge for the new P Zero Pink hypersoft, which made its debut in Monte-Carlo. While Monaco is well-known as the track that asks the least from the tyres all year, Montreal contains bigger speeds and different corners.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW
- Once more, the P Zero Red supersoft, P Zero Purple ultrasoft, and P Zero Pink hypersoft have been selected. This should lead to plenty of on-track action throughout the weekend.
- The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a semi-permanent facility infrequently used outside the grand prix, so track evolution from Friday to Sunday tends to be particularly high.
- Canada is about traction and braking: longitudinal rather than lateral forces. It’s one of the most demanding circuits on brakes all year and if brakes overheat, this can affect tyres too.
- Weather is unpredictable: in 2011 (Pirelli’s first year back in F1) the Canadian Grand Prix became the longest in the sport’s history due to constant interruptions from rain.
- There’s very little run-off area, so safety cars – influencing race strategy – are common.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF CAR RACING
“While Monaco was the first appearance for the new hypersoft, we can almost consider Montreal to be the real debut for this tyre, as Monaco is completely atypical. The track surface at Montreal is actually quite smooth, but we should still see more than one pit stop due to the combination of the softest tyre nomination that we have ever brought to Canada, and a more demanding track layout than Monaco. In the past, there has been an extremely wide variety of strategies seen at this race, and the arrival of the hypersoft should now open up those possibilities still further. In reality, nobody knows exactly how it will perform in Canada in terms of wear and degradation, so the homework done during free practice will be more important than ever”
- Race organisers have agreed to rebuild the entire paddock infrastructure, with some work having already been started on the new paddock.
- Pirelli’s 2019 development programme continued at Paul Ricard in France for two days, with Mercedes drivers George Russell and Valtteri Bottas concentrating on wet and intermediate tyres.
2011 – Jenson Button took an amazing win on the last lap from Sebastien Vettel in a wet-dry thriller, Jenson recovering from last place after busy race that saw him clash with team mate Lewis Hamilton resulting in Lewis retirement from the race, incur a drive through penalty for speeding under the safety car, have a further collision with Fernando Alonso that caused Fernando to retire and forced Button to pit. Michael Schumacher shined in one of the better performances of his second stint in F1, looking at one point like he might even be able to push for victory before eventually finishing fourth.
2008 –Robert Kubica took his sole Grand Prix victory in a BMW-Sauber, but it could so easily have been taken away from him. During an early safety car period the leaders dived into the pits, Kubica got out just ahead of Raikkonen but as the pit exit was closed Raikkonen and Kubica had to stop and queue up alongside each other at the exit waiting to be released. After a slower stop Hamilton came flying out of his pit box and unaware of the closed pit lane clouted into the back of Raikkonen, taking both out of the race. For good measure Rosberg followed into the back Hamilton, losing his front wing in the process! Kubica survived and went on to claim his only F1 victory. Read more
1999 – Birth of the ‘Wall of Champions’ – Mika Hakkinen took the chequered flag, but this race will be remembered for giving us the name ‘Wall of Champions’ – the wall on the outside of the final chicane, with Hill, Schumacher and Villeneuve all hitting the wall in the same race.
1995 – Jean Alesi took his sole Grand Prix victory on his 31ST Birthday. Michael Schumacher led most of the way but his Benetton developed an electrical problem 11 laps from the end, promoting Alesi to first. Amazingly this was only win for the talented Alesi.
1991 – Nelson Piquet’s last grand prix win. Nigel Mansell led from the start and had the win wrapped up, but Mansell started his celebration early and as he waved at the crowd on the last lap his car stalled at the hairpin and Piquet inherited the win with Mansell classified in 6th.
1989 – Thierry Boutsen secures his first ever grand prix win in a race run on a soaking track. The race produced quite an unusual start, as the initial start was aborted due to stalled cars on the grid, a number of driver pitted to swap to slicks on the second warm up lap as the rest of the field lined up on the drying grid. Nigel Mansell and Allesandro Nannini then exited the pits and charged back on the track before the race had started while the rest of the field lined up on the starting grid! Mansell and Nannini would both be disqualified. In appalling conditions, Ayrton Senna put on a wet weather masterclass to dominate the field, but retired from certain victory with an engine failure, handing Boutsen his first win.
F2 and GP3 will stay in Europe, but there will be plenty to watch during the build up to the F1 race, with the entertainment provided by the Formula Tour 1600 series, the Ferrari Challenge and the local Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup Canada
|2014||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault|
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2008||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber|