Formula 1 hits the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal this weekend and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff says Ferrari are looking good. Although The Silver Arrows in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have largely lead the charts this season, Wolff believes that the progress so far has slowed. “In the past six races, we were very strong in the corners but lost time on the straights. This will make Canada a huge challenge for us, as the track characteristics could favour our opponents – there are many long straights, and fewer corners in which to make up lap time. But we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
That’s an interesting statement from the Mercedes boss. The circuit isn’t, on the face of it, a particularly technical layout as it’s predominantly made up of high-speed straights connected by slower-speed corners. However, it was spoken about Ferrari at Bahrain that they had a power advantage, of up to a half second per lap on that circuit’s straight sections. With leading teams more predisposed to misdirection and obfuscation, could Wolff’s statement be a genuine acknowledgement or a hint that Mercedes have something to be revealed this weekend. Hamilton himself may have alluded to that two weeks ago in Monaco, saying: “I think we will probably have a new engine by the next race, so the car will continue to move forwards, as we will.”
He’ll be keen to continue his form especially after his emotion packed win two weeks ago. That victory takes Hamilton 17 points clear of Bottas, with 137 to 120 having Bottas a full 38 points clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Coming into the 7th race of the season also has Mercedes well and truly leading the Constructors’ Championship by a huge margin, with their 257 points over Ferrari’s 130 points a clear indicator of the dominance shown so far.
Ferrari themselves will be keen to make this weekend a clean run for Vettel and the hapless Charles Leclerc, with Vettel looking to repeat his success here last year. The new driver was effectively hung out to dry by the red team in qualifying, which lead to his frustration manifesting during a gritty drive at Monaco ending with damage to his car. This has brought forward rumours that the now longer new recruit may be considering moving on from Ferrari and the end of this season. Those same rumours have extended to Vettel, but the German born driver has shit down those rumours. “I have no plans to stop Formula 1, I still have a lot of fun, and I still have something to do at Ferrari.”
Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is seen as a track that is hard on brake systems thanks to the series of corners in the first sector that join short straights that aren’t long enough to bleed heat, plus the super tight hairpin on the entry to sector 3. Red Bull have gone some way to addressing brake fade by upgrading their brakes. There are now more brake venting holes in their carbon fibre discs, with over 1400 holes to try and remove excess friction heat. The technical stats are these: the best operating temperatures are between 400-800 degrees Celsius, but when the temperature creeps up much beyond 1,000 degrees Celsius they will oxidise to the point of potentially critical failure.
Montreal first hosted a round of the F1 season back in 1978. The current race lap record is now 15 years old, with Rubens Barrichello laying down a 1:13.622 on the 4.361 kilometres long track back in 2004. Total race distance is 305.27 over 70 laps.
Practice commences at 10am local on Friday, June 7. Qualifying starts at 14:00 on Saturday June 8, and race time is 14:10 local, Sunday June 9.