It was a case of calm and then chaos at the Monaco Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel opened up a 25-point lead at the top of standings with a controversial third win of the season. Lewis Hamilton needs a win at the circuit he has won five times at including the last two consecutive races id he wants to wrestle the momentum away from Vettel and Ferrari.
Ahead of round seven in Canada, Planet F1 and Betsafe dissect all the fall-out from Monte Carlo and look ahead to Montreal including expert opinions from former F1 driver Johnny Herbert.
Heartbreak for Kimi
The curse of pole position struck again in Monaco as Kimi Raikkonen followed in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo in years past with a very underwhelming second-place finish. Ferrari, though, will not care one jot having inflicted maximum damage on below-par Mercedes.
Usually all the drama comes at Monaco in the first few corners as the field needle their way through the tight street corners, but Raikkonen got off to a flying start and all the major players behind came through unscathed.
The train of Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were then all in hot pursuit of two Ferraris, who had trouble negotiating the notorious traffic created by the back-markers.
Verstappen was the first to blink by pitting on Lap 32, trying to under-cut the Mercedes, but the move would turn out to be a disastrous one.
Not only did Bottas get back out ahead of the Dutchman on the next lap, but Ricciardo set three fastest laps in a row with clean air and ended leapfrogging both drivers by Lap 38.
However, the real flashpoint came a lap later, when Vettel also made the over-cut work and left Raikkonen’s strategy looking very flaky as he pitted five laps before. Many predicted Ferrari would want to swap the two drivers given Lewis Hamilton’s troublesome weekend and it was there when the race was won and lost.
After the Safety Car came in on Lap 67 following an horrific crash between the returning Jenson Button (who retired) and Pascal Wehrlein – which left the latter flipped on his side – Ricciardo survived a brief kiss with the barrier to hold onto the final podium spot from Bottas and Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz was a very impressive sixth place for Toro Rosso, with Hamilton somewhat rescuing a pretty desperate weekend by finishing seventh. The Brit started P13 due to a disastrous qualifying session which saw him fail to reach Q3.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen claimed a rare double-points finish for the new-look Haas, with the two split by Felipe Massa who had a quiet race in P9.
Sergio Perez bizarrely came away with the fastest-ever lap around Monaco despite finishing last in a race where just 13 drivers completed the circuit.
On top of Button and Wehrlein, Marcus Ericsson suffered an embarrassing crash overtaking the Safety Car, Stoffel Vandoorne crashed out whilst running in the points for McLaren and rookie Lance Stroll suffered yet another retirement. Daniil Kvyat’s car also suffered critical damage after being tagged by Perez in a frantic finish.
What to expect in Canada
“We were caught off-guard all weekend and we could not recover.” The words of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff as Vettel not only stretched his lead to a substantial 25 points – the equivalent of one race win – but Ferrari leapfrogged the Silver Arrows in the Constructors’ Championship, too.
Mercedes simply cannot afford another weekend like they had in Monaco and while it will be a relief to get that big and bulky W08 away from a tight street circuit, the way Hamilton in particular struggled with traction through the slow corners does not bode well for Canada.
However, a strange pattern is emerging with the Brit. He was miles off the pace in Russia but bounced back with a win in Spain, so will another dismal performance in Monaco lead to another comeback victory in Montreal? As you’ll read later he certainly loves the track.
What Ferrari have over Mercedes at the moment is consistency. Vettel has continued his run of finishing every race this season in either first or second and the Scuderia have a seriously impressive car which, thus far, has caused them very little problems.
Red Bull continue to show steady signs of improvement, but as we return to the power tracks they will be banging on Renault’s door for an engine upgrade if they are to have any say in this title battle.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Situated on a tiny island in the St Lawrence Seaway, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is proof that good things do indeed come in small packages. Home to the Canadian Grand Prix since 1978, this historic track will certainly get the blood pumping and the heart racing again following the glitz and glamour of Monaco.
There is sure to be plenty of action at the opening couple of turns once the lights go green on race day. The little kink to the right before the first left-hander will lure some drivers into grabbing the inside line for the right-curling Turn 2; but there is barely any room to breathe down there, never mind squeeze these wide 2017 cars through what is a very tricky opening.
If the car does come through unscathed, it is full pedal to the metal as the track swerves back towards the city of Montreal on the far side of the river. There is a chance of overtaking through the Pont de la Concorde section but fortune will only favour the very brave as the tight corners continue to disrupt the long straights.
No corner is tighter than L’Epingle (Turn 10), where drivers in the past have had to flick all the way down to first gear to be able to get the cleanest run through the hairpin.
The track then opens up again to the huge straight past the casino before the drivers come face-to-face with the iconic ‘Wall of Champions’ before the end of the lap.
To accommodate the new generation of Formula 1 cars, the angle of the concrete wall has now changed due to safety reasons, while tyre walls and guardrails have been replaced by reinforced Tecpro barriers.
At a circuit like this, you cannot afford to take any chances.
Previous winners and track suitability
After the need of a strong aerodynamic package in Monaco, we are back to a more power-hungry track at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and, as a result, it will come as no surprise to see that Hamilton and Mercedes have won the last two editions of the Canadian Grand Prix.
In fact, Hamilton, with five career wins in Montreal, is closing in on Michael Schumacher’s incredible record of seven race victories here – the first of which came in 1994 and the last a decade later.
Hamilton’s title rival Vettel also has experience of winning in Canada back in his dominant Red Bull days, while former team-mate Ricciardo is another current driver on the grid with a solitary Canadian victory to his name.
Fresh from his Indy 500 escapade, Fernando Alonso is another former winner in Montreal, as is Raikkonen who brought Schumacher’s domination to an end in 2005.
Ferrari and McLaren are neck-and-neck with 13 victories apiece at the Canadian Grand Prix, but the former are looking to an end another long drought after 13 years have now passed since their last success here.
The barren run stretches right back to 2001 for seven-time winners Williams, while Red Bull and Mercedes both have two wins respectively.
About Mark Scott
Mark Scott is a contributor for PlanetF1, the definitive site for Formula One news, features, galleries and live coverage.