After two years of absence and the arrival of the new technical regulations for 2022, it is difficult to know who will really be able to do well this weekend at the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit.
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have been very successful in recent years on Île Notre-Dame. The Briton has also won four of the last five Grand Prix editions, interrupted only by Sebastian Vettel in 2018.
New identities, but diverse successes
Vettel was also very close to winning two years in a row in 2019, but remember that getting off the track penalized him by five seconds due to his return to the track considered dangerous by the marshals. The Ferrari driver, therefore, crossed the finish line first, but the victory went to Hamilton.
In addition, Hamilton will try to become the most successful driver in the history of the Canadian Grand Prix this year. He currently has seven wins in Montreal (2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019), which places him tied with Michael Schumacher (1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004).
Except that Mercedes does not reach the metropolis as a favorite. The team is having problems this season. Despite the arrival of a new flat fund in Barcelona, the gap with the leaders remained wide in Monaco and Baku. Therefore, it would be very surprising if this delay was erased in Montreal, especially since it is a track that should not be adapted to the Mercedes. Asked in Baku about circuits that could make the German team smile, Chief Toto Wolff mentioned Silverstone, Paul-Ricard, perhaps the Red Bull Ring, but “definitely not Montreal.”
For the victory, then, we have to resort to Ferrari and the Red Bulls, who have offered us a tight and very interesting fight since the beginning of the season.
On paper, we can believe that the Montreal circuit could be more suitable for Red Bull. Since the start of the season, the Red Bulls have often had an advantage on the straights, while the Ferraris are more comfortable in the corners. The Gilles-Villeneuve circuit has many straight lines and several DRS zones that have been good news for Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez since the start of the season, especially in the race.
In fact, the start of the season also showed us that qualifying sessions are not always indicative of the outcome of the next day. The Ferraris are especially good on one lap, and Leclerc has taken advantage of six leadership positions since the start of the season, including the last four.
However, in racing, the Red Bulls have often shown more pace over long periods and are also less demanding with the tires, which has allowed Christian Horner’s team to take the strategic lead at times. That’s why of Red Bull’s six wins this season, only one has come out on top.
Verstappen will also try to win a first race in Montreal, he who accumulated a podium in five starts during his career. As for Red Bull’s last win here, we have to go back to 2014, when the first win of Daniel Ricciardo’s career.
For Ferrari, the focus will be on the team after its double withdrawal last Sunday. Charles Leclerc will want to catch up on qualifying on a circuit where he has already been successful, although he has little experience in Montreal. In 2018 it slipped to 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.
We must not forget his teammates, Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz. Pérez, with a victory in Monaco and a second place in Baku, overtook Leclerc to take second place in the standings. The Mexican is in a very good streak and has repositioned himself at the height of the race for the title.
As for Sainz, he wants to forget a start to the season below expectations, sometimes a victim of mistakes on his part, but also of the reliability problems of his team. He will try to be the seventh driver in history to win the first race of his career in Montreal.
Two Canadians will be on the track this weekend, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi. Either way, let’s just say that the start of the 2022 calendar doesn’t really make them smile.
At Aston Martin, Stroll struggled to get the most out of his car, finishing in points only twice in the first eight races. His two points in the standings place him 17the rank of pilots, while Sebastian Vettel is 14the with after losing the first two races of the season.
Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari remain the hegemony of F1
In his defense, the Canadian sometimes deserved better, especially at the Miami Grand Prix. After tenth in the standings, his best result of the season, Stroll had to leave the pit line due to a fuel temperature problem. Despite this problem and contact with Kevin Magnussen, Stroll still climbed to tenth place in the race.
Still, Stroll has work to do to feel more comfortable behind the wheel of his car. This is especially the case with the classification, his Achilles heel since the beginning of his career. He has only twice beaten his teammate in eight races (one against Vettel and one against Hulkenberg). The difference is especially noticeable in the last two Grand Prix. While Vettel arrived in Q3 in Monaco and Baku, Stroll had to settle for 18e and 19e rank.
Finally, Nicholas Latifi will finally have a chance to compete in his national Grand Prix, which saw the Montreal Grand Prix canceled during his first two Formula One seasons.
Latifi had an exciting season last year. He accumulated his first points in Formula 1, finishing the year with seven units on the clock. Not surprisingly, George Russell had the advantage, but he still showed an interesting pace throughout the season.
However, the Montreal-born Latifi is having a hard time adapting to his new car this season. There’s too much off-track, and the difference with Alexander Albon, his new teammate, is too big.
Therefore, the Canadian will have to find solutions to his problems. Because even if you can count on significant financial support, your steering wheel could be at stake if the results don’t improve.
Hopefully a passage home can bring new life to your season.