Hamilton is the man to beat in Canada

2018-06-06 06:01

THE Formula 1 paddock heads west for the seventh round of the season around Canada’s famed Gilles Villeneuve circuit.

The circuit, in the midst of the St. Lawrence Seaway, is one characterised by its heavy demand on braking and the close proximity of the barriers.

Although it is one of the shortest circuits on the calendar, it rarely fails to produce exciting racing. In 2011, then McLaren driver Jenson Button produced one of the most stunning races of his career to come from dead last to a spectacular last lap win.

It is here too that now four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton won his first race 10 years ago in 2008 and where, in 2001, Ralf and Michael Schumacher became the first set of siblings to finish first and second in a grand prix.

Overtaking is far easier around the Canadian circuit than it was two weeks ago in Monaco, too, with several heavy braking zones offering the prime opportunity to get ahead.

Naturally, the best place to start any Grand Prix is in pole position. However, it isn’t a deal-breaker in Canada if you don’t.

In fact, in the 48 Canadian Grands Prix that has been held since 1967, the driver in pole position has gone on to take victory only 45% of the time.

Traditionally, it has been a race where Mercedes excel.

The cooler conditions play to the strengths of their car and, importantly, places less emphasis on tyre heat-up. For the weekend’s running, Pirelli has nominated the hyper-, ultra-, and supersoft compounds.

While Ferrari have opted to lean more towards the pink-walled Hypersoft compound, Mercedes has chosen to cover their basis by opting for a few extra sets of the ultrasoft compound.

The hypersoft proved quite fragile in Monaco, and that on a circuit dominated by slow-speed corners.

In Canada, there will undoubtedly by more strain on the tyres and bigger headaches for teams and drivers where it concerns strategy.

Elsewhere, Lance Stroll, the only Canadian in the field, arrives at his home grand prix after what has been a tough start to the season.

From the outset the Williams car hasn’t looked competitive and even though the team are putting corrective measures in place, it will take some time to translate to performance on the track.

Nevertheless, one can’t help but feel that Stroll’s attitude and demeanour hasn’t been a benefit to the team.

While he’s certainly had reason to be frustrated with the lack of speed in his car, his attitude often borders on petulant. Despite the difficulties of the car, Stroll has been consistently outperformed by his rookie teammate Sergey Sirotkin.

What’s more, his teammate Sirotkin’s own statements in the press have been highly complimentary of the team’s spirit and their dedication to turning things around.

And in case it has slipped Stroll’s mind, there is a certain Robert Kubica waiting in the wings ready and more than able to take the young Canadian’s seat.

The Canadian GP has hardly ever been one of the most predictable races in any F1 season, but the expectation will be that Lewis Hamilton should be incredibly difficult to beat.

The good news is that it will hardly be a repeat of the rather dull Monaco Grand Prix.

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