Double Apex regular contributor, Nick van der Meulen, brings us an F1 preview Canada 2019.
The F1 circus moves across the pond to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on the Il Notre Dame outside Montreal, Canada. It is a challenging circuit with fast straights, twisty, challenging chicanes, a slow hairpin… and the infamous Wall of Champions. The latter is so named because it has claimed no fewer than five world champions over the years (video here).
It is the circuit that Robert Kubica will remember best, after his frightening accident in 2007 when he sat helpless as his BMW Sauber rolled… and rolled and rolled. Catch a video of the incident at the bottom of this post. It is also where Lewis Hamilton had one of his more embarrassing moments when he soundly punted Kimi Raikkonen up the exhaust pipe at the exit of pit lane in 2008 – and Kubica won.
All bets off
If one can expect an unpredictable result, Montreal should be the place to provide it. Mercedes has won the first six races this season and will be gunning to make it seven, making the marque the most dominant force since McLaren won all but one Grand Prix in 1988.
Ahead of the weekend, Mercedes has been playing down its chances, stating that this race will be a challenging one, though we’ve heard that tune before. On the current run of form, the silver cars are still odds-on favourites to dominate this weekend.
Ferrari, in the form of Charles Leclerc, and Red Bull Racing, in the form of Max Verstappen, have been the only ones to provide any form of challenge to the might of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Ferrari has been severely affected by team blunders, ruining the confidence of their rising star Leclerc in the process, and Red Bull Racing has been struggling with straight-line speed with their Honda powerplant – although they are worlds ahead of their previous engine supplier, Renault.
With its tight nature and relatively small run-off areas the likelihood of a Safety Car during the Canadian race is always present. When (more than if) the Safety Car is deployed those who think quickest on their feet can really benefit from a ‘free’ pit-stop. Could Red Bull gain the upper hand on Ferrari once again?
Renault is also down in confidence following lacklustre performances and will be chasing McLaren-Renault, Haas-Ferrari, Racing Point Mercedes and Alfa Romeo in the hopes of scoring well in Canada. The team has two talented drivers in Ricciardo and Hulkenberg who are hungry to perform.
Each of these teams has the means and talent to put in a good performance and Montreal is unpredictable enough to keep it interesting. The circuit is hard on brakes and punishes mistakes… may the best driver on the day win.