Canadian GP Preview | Hamilton to bounce back in Montreal?

 Preview round 7 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Candian Grand Prix.

For the second year in a row, Formula One travels across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to Canada with Lewis Hamilton chasing the championship lead. A lead once again held by a German, with the Monaco Grand Prix-winning Sebastian Vettel leading the Briton by a race-winning total of 25-points. 

Taking a break from its European heartland, Formula One’s annual mid-season trip across the pond to Canada sees F1 head to Montreal for what will be the Countries 54th Grand Prix.

The Canadian Grand Prix was first held in 1961, although the race only touched the Formula One calendar in 1967 when Jack Brabham won the race held at Ontario’s Mosport Park.

Ontario's Motorsport Park - Alexandre Ayih

Ontario, Canada’s Motorsport Park. Photo credit: Alexandre Ayih.

Since its debut, Ferrari and McLaren have been the most successful constructors to race in Canada – with both teams victorious on 13 occasions. Ferrari, however, has not claimed victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since Michael Schumacher won in 2004.

Since Schumacher claimed what was his seventh Canadian Grand Prix win, and third in a row, Lewis Hamilton broke onto the F1 scene with McLaren and claimed his first Grand Prix win at the circuit. Going on to further his Canadian tally with four more wins, two of which with Mercedes, to become the second most successful driver at the circuit.

Should Hamilton win this weekend’s meet, his tally will stand at twice the amount of third-placed Nelson Pique while matching Schumacher’s record of three-in-a-row. Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, has just the singular victory to his name at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Schumacher during a victorious 2003 Canadian Grand Prix - Photo credit Tobi Theobald

Michael Schumacher during a victorious 2003 Canadian Grand Prix. Photo credit: Tobi Theobald.

Vettel may only have one Canadian Grand Prix victory to his name, but the German victorious in 2013 did come short two-years prior when Jenson Button snatched victory on the final lap. Overtaking the Red Bull after Vettel ran wide, touching the wet tarmac on slick tyres and opening the door to Button to sneak through.

This year, though, there will be no repeat of the dramatic scenes of 2011 with Jenson Button no longer racing in Formula One.

The Briton did step back into the McLaren, however, last time out in Monaco while Alonso raced in the Indy500. But with Fernando returning to Formula One this weekend following his break, Button is no longer required to race and will return to retirement.

Unfortunately for Fernando, his return will see the Spaniard fair contrasting fortunes to his Indy500 run out – where Alonso qualified fifth on the grid and was in with a shout of victory up until a Honda blow-out killed his race.

Alonso Indy500 - McLarenHondaAndretti

Fernando Alonso aside his McLaren-Honda-Andretti Indycar ahead of the 2016 Indy500. Photo credit: McLaren-Honda-Andretti.

While Alonso is likely to struggle in Montreal thanks to the shortcomings of Honda’s V6 hybrid power unit, Hamilton is likely to return to challenging at the front after a weekend of struggles in Monaco where Mercedes were stuck on the wrong set-up.

As Hamilton struggled, Vettel soared. Overcutting team-mate and pole-sitting Kimi Raikkonen for victory as he stretched his first stint and upped his pace to emerge ahead. Taking victory, and with Hamilton only able to finish seventh, Vettel was able to stretch his championship lead to 25-points – enough to cover failing to finish a Grand Prix.

Massenet Vettel Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel points left through Massenet during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix. Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari.

Moments after the race concluded a year ago, Vettel and Hamilton discussed the Canadian Grand Prix in the cool down room. Making for an entertaining moment as Vettel highlighted how two birds at the first corner caused him to lock up while leading Hamilton.

“The lap before the Virtual Safety Car I arrived into Turn 1 and I see this stupid couple of seagulls,” explained Vettel to Hamilton.

“Just sitting there – all relaxed. I’m coming along at speed and my car is like red, it’s easy to see, it doesn’t blend in like yours [pointing at Hamilton].

“It wasn’t a pigeon, it was a seagull, I could see the beak. I didn’t know their names, but they were there. It was the worst moment of my race.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 13.44.07

A track guide to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, home of the Canadian Grand Prix. Copyright: Formula One.

In previous years, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s layout would have played into the hands of teams like Williams – who utilised the Mercedes power unit. But with Ferrari’s continued progress, the advantage Mercedes held has been reduced. Making the chances of a strong Williams result slimmer than before.

Williams can still achieve a better result than in recent races, however, which will surely be an aim of Lance Stroll as Formula One’s rookie races in his first home Grand Prix.

Stroll - Williams

Lance Stroll leads Sergio Perez at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix. Photo credit: Williams Racing.

After both Channel 4 and Sky Sports broadcasted the Monaco Grand Prix live, the Canadian Grand Prix will be exclusively live on Sky this weekend with Channel 4 covering the race via highlights.

Sky Sports F1
07/06 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Preview
08/06 – 16:00 – Driver Press Conference
08/06 – 19:45 – Paddock Uncut
09/06 – 14:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports 1)
09/06 – 18:45 – Practice 2
09/06 – 21:00 – Team Press Conference
09/06 – 21:40 – The F1 Show
10/06 – 14:45 – Practice 3
10/06 – 17:00 – Qualifying
11/06 – 17:30 – Race
=> 17:30 – Track Parade
=> 18:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 18:30 – Race (also Sky Sports 2)
=> 21:30 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports 2)
14/06 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
08/06 – 21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
10/06 – 19:00 – Qualifying Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)
11/06 – 18:30 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Channel 4 F1
10/06 – 22:30 – Qualifying Highlights
11/06 – 22:15 – Race Coverage
=> 22:15 – Hamilton vs Vettel
=> 22:30 – Race Highlights