Nuclear scientist and Formula One fan, Nick van der Meulen, brings us an F1 review Canada 2019.

There seems to be a magical combination with Ferrari and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada. It may be that the Canadian hero won his first Grand Prix at this circuit, driving a Ferrari, in 1978.  There have been memorable victories involving the magical number 27 (the racing number Gilles is mostly associated with – Ferrari tried to have this number retired when the diminutive Canadian passed, without success).

Michele Alboreto took a famous victory here in the #27 Ferrari in 1985, as did Jean Alesi (his only victory) a decade later. As a result, one can understand the mystique and attraction between marque and circuit…

Read about a possible Formula E race that could take place in Cape Town at this link.

High hopes

Ferrari arrived in Canada with high expectations and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff even suggested that they may be on their back foot to their archrival at the Ile Notre Dame circuit. The Italian marque did not disappoint and Sebastian Vettel put in a scorching lap to snatch pole position.

Vettel did everything right at the start and managed to hold on to the lead, despite Hamilton’s best intentions throughout the race… but then, with mounting pressure from Hamilton, Vettel made a slight mistake and ran off the circuit on lap 48. He rejoined in a manner that forced Hamilton to take evasive action to avoid a massive accident between the two.


As a result, the race stewards deemed that he rejoined the circuit in an unsafe manner and the German was handed a 5-second penalty as a result. Vettel huffed and blew off steam behind the wheel, but couldn’t eke out enough of a lead over the world champion by the fall of the chequered flag and had to be content with second position. This will be a topic of discussion between fans and drivers alike, but this is a dispute between Vettel and the race stewards.

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Not the worst result

So…two Ferraris made it onto the podium, as Charles Leclerc had a solid weekend to put it onto the box. A subdued Valtteri Bottas finished 4th, while Max Verstappen (Red Bull Honda) did a sterling job to finish 5th from 11th on the grid ahead of the dueling Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull Honda) will be disappointed with his 8th place finish, while local hero Lance Stroll (Racing Point Mercedes) did a phenomenal job to gain two points ahead of Daniel Kyvat (Toro Rosso Honda).

Winning ways

So, Ferrari showed it can win. The Italian team lost it due to a mistake, but the speed is there and this is the closest they have managed in the 2019 season. Vettel feels strongly that the penalty is undeserved and at least one F1 pundit agrees with his assessment. Race Control’s decision, however, is final and has to be accepted for better or worse. Lewis Hamilton extends his world championship lead over team mate Bottas to 29 points, while Vettel is a further 33 points back and 12 points ahead of Verstappen.

The next round sees F1 circus return to Europe with the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Ferrari will throw down the gauntlet in an attempt to take the spoils from Mercedes for the first time in 2019, particularly after the disaster in Canada.

Click here for the official race highlights video package.

An afterthought

There was a quote in the “podium room” from Gilles Villeneuve. “I will drive flat out all the time…I love racing”. The French Canadian had his fair share of incidents and adventures on track due to his commitment to driving on the limit. What happened (or did not happen – no contact was made) this weekend, when compared to the racing between Villeneuve and Arnoux at the French Grand Prix in 1979 for instance, could be regarded as merely a racing incident. BUT. Racing has evolved a great deal in 40 years. Rules of engagement have changed. Formula One is no longer a

romantic sport, instead, it is a corporate image. It is now big business hiding behind the facade of a sport. The concept of hitting drivers with a 5-second penalty is derived from Indycar racing, where drivers racing on ovals were penalized for blocking (it’s been in place for a good 30 years). While this penalty handed to Vettel in the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix was better than the potential drive-through penalty that could have been “awarded”, it hurt the romantics.

It hurt the fans who came to see some excellent racing… it’s not nice to see the driver crossing the finish line in second place being declared the winner in what can be regarded as a straight fight. It hurt the image of Formula One. It gave Mercedes their seventh straight victory in 2019, while Ferrari is scrambling to regain some credibility. Ferrari did it right, yet, the result is all wrong.