Mercedes head into the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend in full control of the championship and with an engine upgrade to boot. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are first and second in the standings, with the latter 38 points clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
So, it’s easy to see why so many are tipping either of the two Mercedes drivers to come out on top, but will they?
Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a track which Lewis Hamilton knows very well, having won on six occasions out of the last eleven when racing there. Recording a seventh victory on the historic Ile Notre Dame track will see Hamilton equal the record 7 wins recorded in Montreal by Michael Schumacher, something the Brit will be eager to achieve.
The confidence is rightfully flowing in the Mercedes camp, especially as they have managed to win every race of the season so far, but they aren’t expecting to have it all their own way this weekend. Mercedes dominated in both Monaco and Spain last time out, but there are apparent concerns regarding a potential renewed challenge from Ferrari in Canada.
Speaking ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff said, “We are beginning to see more clearly the strengths and weaknesses of our car. 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.”
Can Ferrari Get It Right
Ferrari may see the Canadian Grand Prix as an opportunity to make amends, having let a couple of wins slip through their fingers already this season. Charles Leclerc, who dominated in Bahrain, unfortunately suffered an engine problem in the final stages of the race, costing Ferrari victory. Leclerc also looked set to take pole in Baku, before crashing out in qualifying, handing Ferrari yet another blow.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has played down the comments made by Toto Wolff however, “I think we will be in better shape compared to Barcelona, but the best car is still the Mercedes and should be ahead. But maybe the gap will close.”
“We know we’re not competitive enough right now and, for the time being, we haven’t got any more changes coming on the car that will have a significant effect on the problems we have encountered since the start of the season.”
“However, the Canadian track characteristics present another different challenge, given that top speed, braking efficiency and traction are the main considerations. We arrive here ready to do out best and to put the mistakes of the last few races behind us.”
Time Will Tell
So, the likelihood is that Mercedes will come out on top, especially if their engine upgrade is ready in time, however, there’s expected to be a renewed challenge from Ferrari, but it could simply just be a case of them closing the gap rather than standing any chance of winning the race.