Hamilton poised to avenge Monaco defeat – but Raikkonen may unsettle Mercedes

2015 Canadian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Lewis Hamilton has a funny relationship with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

It’s a venue that should reward his peerless feel for hard braking – and often does. Yet wins have a habit of getting away from him in Canada.

Last year was a prime example: having surprisingly been bested by Nico Rosberg in qualifying, and briskly brushed aside at turn one, Hamilton eventually wrested the lead from his team mate only to be sidelined by a technical problem.

As he pointed out in the build-up to the race, his form in Canada is excellent. He took his first pole position and victory in 2007. But recall what happened to him 12 months later: seemingly en route to a repeat win, a slow pit stop dropped him behind Kimi Raikkonen, who he then rammed in the pit lane. That kind of randomness is somehow par for the course in Canada.

Clumsily-delivered PR platitudes notwithstanding, the trauma of the disastrous pit call in Monaco cannot help but surface in Hamilton’s mind if the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve runs to its unpredictable form and serves up and awkwardly-timed Safety Car (or a Virtual one). “We win and lose together,” said Hamilton in the aftermath of the win that got away, and the previously unheard radio messages published by FOM yesterday revealed just how true that was.

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But Hamilton knows it is within his powers to deal out the kind of punishment he was giving Rosberg in Monaco before that fateful lap 65 pit stop. Scrappy laps and red flags left him last in final practice on Saturday with little direction on set-up heading into qualifying, yet he delivered his fifth pole position from six attempts this year. That could spur him on to a virtuoso performance on a track which suits him to a tee.

Raikkonen’s best qualifying performance of the year so far and the SF-15T’s excellent race pace allied to a well-timed engine upgrade, may bring him within range of the Mercedes on pure pace. The braking problems Mercedes have experienced at other venues this year – as well as this track 12 months ago – could resurface at a venue where the left pedal takes a pounding.

However one crucial factor which has worked in Raikkonen’s favour earlier this year will not apply. Sebastian Vettel’s attacking strategies have previously forced Mercedes to bring their cars in early, allowing Raikkonen to profit by running longer. But a double blow for Vettel – a power unit problem and a grid penalty – have left him in the lower reaches of the grid and unable to contribute to the fight at the front. He should be good value for the spectators, though.

Like Ferrari, Lotus also delivered on the form they showed on Friday, getting both drivers on the third row. The team is targeting a podium finish, which is a big ask against the opposition they face, particularly given the E23’s poor finishing record.

This marks an interesting development in the fight to be top Mercedes customer team, as Lotus are now seriously pressing Williams. Felipe Massa’s problem in qualifying leaves Valtteri Bottas as their sole representative at the sharp end of the grip. What’s more, he tends to be vulnerable at the start.

But it came as no surprise to see the Mercedes-powered cars to the fore at a circuit where top end grunt is a pre-requisite. Aside from Massa’s wounded Williams, all the Mercedes-engined cars were quicker than the rest through the speed trap.

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’15.8951’14.661 (-1.234)1’14.393 (-0.268)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’15.8931’14.673 (-1.220)1’14.702 (+0.029)
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’16.2591’15.348 (-0.911)1’15.014 (-0.334)
4Valtteri BottasWilliams1’16.5521’15.506 (-1.046)1’15.102 (-0.404)
5Romain GrosjeanLotus1’15.8331’15.187 (-0.646)1’15.194 (+0.007)
6Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’16.0981’15.622 (-0.476)1’15.329 (-0.293)
7Nico HulkenbergForce India1’16.1861’15.706 (-0.480)1’15.614 (-0.092)
8Daniil KvyatRed Bull1’16.4151’15.891 (-0.524)1’16.079 (+0.188)
9Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’16.4101’16.006 (-0.404)1’16.114 (+0.108)
10Sergio PerezForce India1’16.8271’15.974 (-0.853)1’16.338 (+0.364)
11Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’16.6111’16.042 (-0.569)
12Max VerstappenToro Rosso1’16.3611’16.245 (-0.116)
13Marcus EricssonSauber1’16.7961’16.262 (-0.534)
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’17.0121’16.276 (-0.736)
15Felipe NasrSauber1’16.9681’16.620 (-0.348)
16Sebastian VettelFerrari1’17.344
17Felipe MassaWilliams1’17.886
18Roberto MerhiManor1’19.133
19Will StevensManor1’19.157
20Jenson ButtonMcLaren

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton20.936 (2)23.850 (1)29.477 (1)
Nico Rosberg20.913 (1)23.934 (2)29.636 (2)
Kimi Raikkonen21.068 (3)24.194 (5)29.731 (3)
Valtteri Bottas21.080 (4)24.207 (6)29.815 (4)
Romain Grosjean21.129 (5)24.116 (4)29.843 (6)
Pastor Maldonado21.253 (8)24.081 (3)29.924 (7)
Nico Hulkenberg21.329 (11)24.283 (7)29.836 (5)
Daniil Kvyat21.269 (9)24.381 (10)30.202 (10)
Daniel Ricciardo21.249 (7)24.380 (9)30.287 (14)
Sergio Perez21.512 (15)24.360 (8)30.062 (8)
Carlos Sainz Jnr21.290 (10)24.459 (11)30.253 (13)
Max Verstappen21.380 (12)24.548 (12)30.252 (12)
Marcus Ericsson21.421 (13)24.558 (13)30.212 (11)
Fernando Alonso21.246 (6)24.604 (15)30.426 (16)
Felipe Nasr21.424 (14)24.572 (14)30.355 (15)
Sebastian Vettel21.541 (16)24.842 (16)30.191 (9)
Felipe Massa21.550 (17)25.073 (17)31.131 (17)
Roberto Merhi22.399 (19)25.449 (19)31.232 (18)
Will Stevens22.260 (18)25.415 (18)31.381 (19)
Jenson Button

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Romain GrosjeanLotusMercedes340.5 (211.6)
2Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes337.7 (209.8)-2.8
3Pastor MaldonadoLotusMercedes337.2 (209.5)-3.3
4Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes336.8 (209.3)-3.7
5Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes336.6 (209.2)-3.9
6Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes336.4 (209.0)-4.1
7Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes335.8 (208.7)-4.7
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari335.4 (208.4)-5.1
9Max VerstappenToro RossoRenault334.2 (207.7)-6.3
10Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari333.9 (207.5)-6.6
11Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari333.7 (207.4)-6.8
12Felipe NasrSauberFerrari332.3 (206.5)-8.2
13Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault331.7 (206.1)-8.8
14Daniil KvyatRed BullRenault330.9 (205.6)-9.6
15Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda326.6 (202.9)-13.9
16Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault326.2 (202.7)-14.3
17Will StevensManorFerrari324.5 (201.6)-16.0
18Roberto MerhiManorFerrari322.5 (200.4)-18.0
19Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes315.3 (195.9)-25.2

Over to you

Is this one Hamilton’s to lose? Will Raikkonen be a serious threat to the Mercedes?

And what can Vettel and Massa salvage from their compromised starting positions? Share your views on the Canadian Grand Prix in the comments.

2015 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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58 comments on “Hamilton poised to avenge Monaco defeat – but Raikkonen may unsettle Mercedes”

  1. Lewis might just get away with the win, but Nico will be chasing him down hard. Look at the gap on Q1 and Q2!

    Hopefully their race pace is equally close. And with Montreal’s usual drama, we could be in for a great race tomorrow.

    1. With Canada being a brake heavy circuit, I figure we are going to get a few surprises this race. Quite possibly going to turn out to be one of the best races of the year.

  2. Maldonado jumps the start and takes out both Mercs at the first corner, front-wing damage to Raikkonen and early safety car. Bottas´ rear-tyres force him to a stop more than everyone else, Grosjean with technical DNF while leading in the last laps. No idea who wins. Can I place a combined bet on that somewhere?

    1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
      7th June 2015, 8:51

      Surely Vettel wins in that scenario? Even from the back of the grid

      1. +1 Probably.
        Or Maldonado. He didn’t say his car was damaged.

        Though I have my suspicions about which Mercedes PU will bring the end to Vettel’s climb up.

        1. The one thing going for Vettel is Ferrari’s straight-line speed over the Mercs. I can see him picking folks off at the hair pin with better downforce keeping him close and DRS finishing them off (that’s where Renault’s lack of power really killed his race last year when he couldn’t get pass the Force India’s on the straights, especially after his first stint).

          That or Vettel gets taken out by a Manor in T1 / T2, or his PU gives him issues again.

          1. Did you see the figures from speed trap? Almost all Mercedes cars were higher up than Ferrari or thereabouts. Of course in the race they might be slightly slower than that. Even then, considering the minimal 1 lap pace difference between Ferrari and Williams/Lotus I’m not sure he can get ahead of them. I’m not sure he can get ahead of Hulkenberg! Maybe Ferrari should try a strategy that will get him some room in free air, like what they did with Raikkonen previously.

          2. @uan

            DRS finishing them off

            Didn’t people in this forum cringe about DRS

  3. Lewis pulls away lap by lap as Nico has his mirrors full of Bottas, Kimi puts in steady laps to prolong tyre life even letting Gro past under DRS as Maldo looks for someone to crash into………….. somehow without anyone noticing the RBRs finish in the points.

    1. @hohum: With the most dominant car ever (in terms of gap), it would be a shame for Lewis not to win.

  4. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 40 victories!!! (@)
    7th June 2015, 1:27

    Raikkonen may unsettle Mercedes but just for a couple of laps. I hope he finds his mojo back, because it is starting to look as if Kimi is on borrowed time in F1.

    1. @omarr-pepper It’s funny you should say that… after Kimi’s best qualy performance of the year and on a weekend when he has been consistently fast in all sessions. And in a year that KR’s race pace has been generally very good. I wonder what should prompt such a weird, seemingly out of place comment, then I see your nick, remember the problems SV had yesterday and understand.

      SV has a good car and every opportunity to come thru the field in the race. No needless teammate bashin necessary

      1. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 40 victories!!! (@)
        7th June 2015, 15:24

        @montreal95 and also remember I am Kimi fan much longer than Seb’s. I hope Kimi can repeat a good race as in Barhain.

        1. @omarr-pepper I’m not a fan of either, though I’d like both of them to be upfront fighting the Mercs, otherwise it’s most likely a boring race

          If you’re a fan of Kimi then I understand your post I replied to even less. Kimi’s race pace is as good as ever this year. He has problem with the heat up of the tires in qualifying but then he’s had always that problem with the Pirellis apart from first half of 2013 with the kevlar belt when suddenly he flew in qualy.

          There’s no evidence whatsover that Kimi has a mojo/motivation problem. If you’re a Kimi fan then you surely know that’s the stick KR haters usually try to beat him with.

          KR has a Pirelli problem and a lack of adaptability problem. Nothing to do with mojo

    2. If we want to see an epic Spa race, you better hope he has his mojo and gets a good result today.

      1. hehe.. i feel ..spa is the only place where kimi doesn’t need his mojo to do well :p
        hope he does well

  5. If not for vettels power problem he would have been second on grid. Raikonnens only chance is safety cars

  6. Similar to last year, Perez is behind Ricciardo and the Bulls are quicker in Sector 1! haha..hopefully Checo can move past them this year

  7. Really looking forward to the race today, this track usually delivers. What are the odds of Jenson winning from the back again? :-P

  8. I would love to see Kimi win.

  9. It will interesting to see which drivers go for a 1-stop race, and which for a 2-stop. In 2012, Grosjean reached the podium on a 1-stop strategy and he’s well placed to do so again. I also think a 1-stop race is Kimi’s best chance of winning this race.

    As for the Mercedes drivers, Sunday form so far this year would suggest Hamilton will have little trouble keeping Rosberg at bay in the race, and indeed as a Hamilton fan this is what I’m hoping for, especially after the drama of Monaco. I suppose this is the same dilemma faced by Vettel fans in e.g. 2013: do you want your favourite driver to win, or do you want to see an interesting race? Last year was an interesting race, but not very enjoyable for me after Hamilton’s retirement.

    In any case, I expect Vettel, Button, Massa and Verstappen to provide us with plenty of entertainment today anyway.

    1. Id keep an eye on Perez for one of those making the one stop work. Might even be the highest person on the grid to try one too.

      1. I think one of Lotus drivers might as well go for it. Considering how unlikely Maldonado will complete a race on 1 stop, Grosjean would be the choice for that.

    2. @adrianmorse

      It will interesting to see which drivers go for a 1-stop race

      I suspect the baby

  10. Hamilton builds a nice lead and Mercedes decide to pit rosberg first to cover off any threat from raikkonen. However merc underestimate the pace advantage of new tyres and rosberg ends up undercutting hamilton after he pits. Rosberg wins. Merc throw away a win again for lewis

    1. It’s scary how believable this sounds.

      1. I know!!!

    2. Throw is a safety car at the exact moment to make an early pit stop an advantage and I’d find this more likely.

      1. @scalextric
        Doesn’t work that way. If you’re stopping early, then the Safety Car comes out and the rest of the pack are stopping, you’re losing more time during the early stop than the others under the Safety Car.
        The Safety Car usually benefits the pit stops of the car in front, the only possible exception are large gaps that result in the leader being slowed down while the rest of the pack can pit without having to reduce their speed (like it happened to Rosberg in Hungary last year).
        To benefit Rosberg, Hamilton would need a pretty large lead, at least comparable to his pre-screwup Monaco lead, then the Safety Car comes out just in front of Hamilton, while Rosberg just manages to enter the pits. In that case, Hamiltons afternoon would be ruined. But that’d require an insane amount of luck, coupled with a very unlikely superiority that usually doesn’t occur on this track.

        1. it can happen – that’s what caught Rosberg and Vettel out last year in Hungary. They pitted then the SC came out.

        2. Exactly. The front runners have to be about to pit for their one mandatory stop and the SC comes out while the first one is in the pits or just after. Fairly unlikely unless a car over pushes on cold or old tyres, which are, of course, relevant in pit stop windows.

    3. @sato113: If a safety car happens, Lewis the oversmart, would not pit now, and lose coz everybody else pitted..

  11. If Vettel’s MGU-H isn’t dead, I can actually see him beating Raikkonen.

    1. Do you also see Raikkonen taking the win? Now that would be interesting…. Vettel beating Kimi to win. lol

  12. Hamilton to win the race by between 15 and 20 seconds, from Rosberg, and a tight fight between Raikkonen, Grosjean, and Bottas for the podium. Vettel, Alonso and Button to all recover, Vettel to top 6, perhaps a point or two for McLaren, but numerous retirements. And Verstappen to run top 6 at some point during the race but fade later. Hoping for a cracker!

    1. @15afountain: With the most dominant car ever (in terms of gap), it would be a shame for Lewis not to win with a big gap

  13. Did you people see Vettel in the garage after his qualifying was ended? It was very interesting….

    1. @bola Could you elaborate a little more please? I know he was angry. That beeped out response to his position when mentioned on the radio said it all.

      Anything more to it?

      1. He was watching his teammate’s qualifying. Normally you don’t see drivers coming back and watching their teammate or something. They just storm off.

        1. With very little running that happened during practice because of the rain and various red flags, this is the only time they probably went close to the limits of the car/track.

          So I am guessing he could have studied Kimi’s lines to have a better idea of a good lap around Montreal. He will need all the help he can get to do something great from 18th on the grid.

          Thanks for that piece of tidbits :)


  14. Hamilton brakes down on the parade lap due to the same problem Massa had in qualifying with his turbo.

    The race starts and Maldonado tries to overtake the entire pack at the first corner and ends up in the river. He winds up down-stream at Quebec City before he is rescued.

    Ericsson spins at the T14 chicane at the end of the first lap and blocks the entire track. Charlie Whiting doesn’t notice until the cars in front of Ericsson meet the back of the traffic jam one lap later. All the cars can’t move and there’s no point in deploying the safety car as no one can take position behind it.

    The race is abandoned and the drivers play ‘paper-scissors-stone’ to decide on who wins. After four hours, Kimi wins a tense final against Merhi and is declared the race winner. Between the track and the winner’s circle, he gets drunk and falls off the top step into the crowd below. Fortunately Chuck Blazer is passing and Kimi doesn’t sustain any injuries.

    (Alternatively: Hamilton dominates, followed by a grumpy Rosberg and a bored Kimi.)

  15. I’m curious to see if anyone takes Vettel out at the start. Kimi had his fair share of dnfs due to other drivers running into him when he started in the middle of the pack. I’m curious to see if Seb gets out of this unscathed.

    1. Vettel has not retired due to contact since Turkey 2010, so I think he’ll make it to the finish again. @floring

  16. Ok so there are a few possibilities here:

    1: Hamilton easily beats nico and Kimi and vettel ends up about 8th. Grisham comes 4th on the one-stop.

    2. Something more interesting e.g safety car or red flag or something else

  17. christianedward (@)
    7th June 2015, 14:31

    Mercedes brake issues last year were a symptom of the KERS failure not the high level of braking required in Canada.
    Possibly one of Nico’s best drives to finish second 100hp down and nursing the brakes.

  18. Both Force Indias at the points? Isn’t that possible?

  19. Hamilton takes an early lead, with Rosberg consistently applying pressure on him. Raikkonen stays out much longer to take lead and race. Vettel charges through field to top 5. Perez delivers good race to fifth, both bulls and hulkenberg in the points. alonso scores a point

    1. RAI / 2. HAM / 3. ROS / 4. VET / 5. PER / 6. BOT / 7. KVY / 8. RIC / 9. HUL / 10. ALO
    anybody have any different ideas?

    1. Bottas will most likely overtake Kimi at the start. With Maldanado in the top ten, anything can happen at Turn 1. Lewis will Fly away from the Pole to finish this on top step of the Podium. I am a optimist looking forward to a good interesting race although.

      Vettel will find it hard to get to Top 10 is my feeling.

  20. Canadian GP is fun to watch. Something or the other spices it up. Safety Cars , rain, reliability issues et all.

    But i have this ominous feeling that Lewis is going to knock this out of the park !!!! OOPS… It all depends on the start . If Kimi can get a good start then it might create a decent race. Again he has been a poor starter off late so the probability of things turning interesting could be very low. It would be worth watching how much Vettel can recover provided they fix his engine. Otherwise it would be fun to watch 3 world champs scrape for 15,16 & 17.

    Last but not the least it is always a welcome pleasure to watch the race in ones own timezone !!!!!

    1. You are wrong buddy! kimi had some awesome starts this year, like china and bahrain, plus i dont remember him losing any positions at any race start this season.

      1. Well in Spain 2 races ago…

        1. do you call gaining 2 positions on first lap a bad start?

          1. @gk17
            What is it with this “he gained 2 places” talk?
            Firstly, he did have a poor start, as evidenced by the fact that he started in P5 but was briefly in P8 at the end of the pit straight.
            He then gained a position under braking, overtaking a Toro Rosso, and another one because of Massa being squeezed off the track, but shortly after that, the second Toro Rosso started challenging him through turn 3 and into turn 4, however never managing to get ahead of him.
            Räikkönen continued side by side with the Toro Rosso up to the braking zone of turn 5, where the first Toro Rosso braked very early, effectively blocking his own team mate, and allowing Räikkönen to get past on the outside. That was the only real overtake he managed during that first lap, unless you count the squabble in turns 1 and 2.

            All that notwithstanding, @mrflatout87 ‘s point still stands: Räikkönen was pretty sluggish off the line and looked out of shape against the Renault-powered Toro Rossos and Red Bulls around him. If that isn’t a bad start with a Ferrari, I don’t know what is.

          2. @nase
            fyi he started p7..and ended p5 on the first lap. So my only point is that it wasnt a bad start by any means. Simple. And it wasnt a sluggish start either, if you watch it again.

  21. it would quite amazing if everyone had pitted with vettel leading and out came a red flag
    imagine that?

    1. @sameercader Hehe. Let’s hope!

  22. Let’s be honest, Vettel and Massa are the ones to make this race interesting. If Kimi is not ahead of either Mercedes by T1 that ship has sailed.

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