After a two-year absence and the introduction of the new 2022 technical regulations, it’s difficult to know who can do really well at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have enjoyed great success on Île Notre-Dame in recent years. The Brit has also won four of the last five editions of the Grand Prix, interrupted only by Sebastian Vettel in 2018.
New identities but mixed results
Vettel was also very close to winning two straight years in 2019, but remember that leaving the track gave him a five-second penalty for returning to what the marshals deemed dangerous. The Ferrari driver was therefore the first to cross the finish line, but victory went to Hamilton.
In addition, Hamilton will aim to become the most victorious driver in Canadian Grand Prix history this year. He currently has seven wins in Montreal (2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019), level on points with Michael Schumacher (1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004).
Only that Mercedes does not come to the metropolis as a favorite. The team is struggling this season. Despite the arrival of a new flat bottom in Barcelona, the gap to the leaders in Monaco and Baku remained wide. It would therefore be very surprising if this delay were to be erased in Montreal, especially since it is a circuit that should not suit the Mercedes. When asked in Baku which circuits the German team could smile at, boss Toto Wolff Silverstone, Paul-Ricard, mentioned maybe the Red Bull Ring, but “definitely not Montreal”.
So for victory we should turn to the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, who have given us a close and very interesting battle since the start of the season.
On paper we can believe that the Montreal track could be better suited for Red Bull. Since the start of the season, the Red Bulls have often been ahead on the straights, while the Ferraris are more comfortable in the corners. The Gilles-Villeneuve circuit has a lot of straights and several DRS areas, which is good news for Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez since the start of the season, especially in the race.
However, the start of the season has also shown us that the qualifying sessions do not always point the way for the result of the next day. The Ferraris are particularly good over a lap and Leclerc has seized the opportunity to book six leading positions since the start of the season, including the last four.
However, the Red Bulls have often shown more speed on long stints in racing and also make less demands on the tyres, which has given Christian Horner’s team a strategic advantage on a number of occasions. That’s why only one of Red Bull’s six wins this season came from top position.
Verstappen will also be looking to win a first race in Montreal, he who has been on the podium in five starts during his career. As for Red Bull’s last win here, we have to go back to 2014 when Daniel Ricciardo celebrated his first career win.
On the Ferrari side, the spotlight will be on the team after their double retirement last Sunday. Charles Leclerc will want to catch up in the standings at a track he’s already had success at, even if he has little experience at Montreal. In 2018 he snuck into the points with a tenth place with Alfa Romeo.
Then, in 2019, Leclerc had achieved the second podium of his career with a third place finish.
We must not forget their teammates Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz either. Perez overtook Leclerc with a win in Monaco and a second place in Baku to take second place overall. The Mexican is on a very good streak and has repositioned himself at the height of the title race.
As for Sainz, he wants to forget a poorer than expected start to the season, sometimes the victim of mistakes on his part but also of his side’s reliability issues. He will aim to be the seventh driver in history to win the first race of his career in Montreal.
And the Canadians?
Two Canadians will be on track this weekend, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi. In either case, let’s assume that the start of the 2022 calendar doesn’t really do them any good.
At Aston Martin, Stroll struggled to get the most out of his car, finishing in the points just twice in the first eight races. His two points in the general classification put him in 17th placee Driver rank, Sebastian Vettel is 14the with after missing the first two races of the season.
Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, still the hegemony of F1
In his defense, the Canadian sometimes deserved better, particularly at the Miami Grand Prix. After tenth qualifying, his best result of the season, Stroll had to start from the pit lane due to a fuel temperature issue. Despite this problem and a collision with Kevin Magnussen, Stroll still improved to tenth place in the race.
Despite this, Stroll still needs to work to become more comfortable behind the wheel of his car. This is especially true for qualifying, his Achilles’ heel since the beginning of his career. He has only beaten his teammate twice in eight races (once against Vettel and once against Hulkenberg). The difference in the last two Grands Prix is particularly striking. While Vettel made it to Q3 in Monaco and Baku, Stroll had to settle for 18the and 19e Rank.
Finally, Nicholas Latifi will finally have the chance to compete in his national Grand Prix, he who saw the Montreal Grand Prix canceled during his first two seasons in Formula 1.
Latifi had an encouraging season last year. He scored his first points in Formula 1 and ended the year with seven units on the clock. Unsurprisingly, George Russell had the upper hand, but he still showed interesting pace throughout the season.
However, Montreal-born Latifi has been struggling to get used to his new single-seater this season. There are too many offtracks and the distance to Alexander Albon, his new teammate, is far too big.
So the Canadian will have to find solutions to his problems. Because even if he can count on significant financial support, his steering wheel could be at stake if results don’t improve.
Let’s hope for him that a home game can breathe new life into his season.