Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017

Little to choose between Ferrari and Mercedes on day one

2017 Canadian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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A dirty and slippery Circuit Gilles Villeneuve caught out driver after driver during Friday’s two practice sessions. And it left the impression there is little to choose between the usual two top teams.

Lewis Hamilton was typically keen to stress the Ferrari’s chances after being outpaced by all of two-tenths of a second.

“The Ferraris are looking fast here,” he said. “As the times show, it’s super close at the top right now. I feel like we are still just a little bit behind the red cars at this early stage of the weekend.”

Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017
Canadian GP practice in pictures
We’ve seen before Mercedes can usually find more from their qualifying set-up than Ferrari can, which raises the prospect of another closely-matched contest on Saturday and Sunday.

Ferrari made a point of completing their qualifying simulation runs slightly early. This allowed them to begin their race stints sooner, which paid off when Max Verstappen’s stoppage brought out the red flags.

That allowed Vettel to cover more ground on the super-soft than any other driver – 29 laps – giving the team very useful data for what should be their second of two stints on Sunday.

However Pirelli pointed out teams had also found good performance from the soft tyre. That could tempt some teams into making an early first pit stop and running until the end, particularly for a driver who qualified ‘out of position’ and is having difficulty gaining ground.

But despite the track’s reputation for producing dramatic races, Sergio Perez is pessimistic about how easy overtaking will be on Sunday.

“A strong qualifying performance tomorrow is going to be very important,” said Perez. “Overtaking here is not easy and I think the strategy options on Sunday will be quite limited.”

Red Bull endured a frustrating day in terms of reliability but should be able to take heart from their performance at a track which doesn’t ordinarily suit them. Verstappen was within half a second of the pace, and unlike Daniel Ricciardo wasn’t running all their new upgrades. Perhaps the upcoming trio of high-speed tracks won’t be so unrewarding for them after all.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:

Combined practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’14.2301’12.93569
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’13.8091’13.15077
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’14.0071’13.20069
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1’14.0461’13.31063
5Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’14.8611’13.38844
6Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’15.1061’14.06369
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’16.5211’14.24532
8Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’14.7851’14.29981
9Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’15.6581’14.46164
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’14.5781’14.50175
11Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’16.3451’14.56651
12Nico HulkenbergRenault1’16.4731’14.60465
13Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’14.62144
14Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’16.2331’14.67660
15Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’15.4411’15.07231
16Jolyon PalmerRenault1’17.0041’15.12766
17Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’16.3131’15.24076
18Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’16.8051’15.61155
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Honda1’15.9431’15.62449
20Pascal WehrleinSauber-Ferrari1’17.6061’16.30859

2017 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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31 comments on “Little to choose between Ferrari and Mercedes on day one”

  1. Smart money is still on Lulu. I expect Vettel to push him, but I think he’ll finish second with Bottas in 3rd.

      1. Don’t pretend you don’t know who I’m talking about. 😈

          1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
            10th June 2017, 10:57

            Yeah, you know. Lulu, Vava, Sebeb, Kimi (that’ll do), Dannyric, EmVee, Checo, Oco, Roro, Kmag, Philip, Lala, Dakvy, Carl, Yolo, Hulk, Wehweh, and Mama. What’s the fuzz?

          2. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
            10th June 2017, 10:59

            I forgot two actually (because they usually only do lap one I guess). Nando-lolo and Stosto.

          3. Arad (@just-an-fan)
            10th June 2017, 12:22

            Where is Mad Max?

    1. I expect front row lockout, the power sensitivity is really high and Ferrari mustnt throw away reliability. You can tell from the lap charts, how much mileage does these pu have mercedes does more laps then is ferrari, renault and honda.

      1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
        10th June 2017, 12:24

        Did that ever occur to you that Ferrari are playing mind games with this part change? Mercedes has one PU already done and dusted.

    2. How do you work that one out?

      1. That’s for the fan of Lulu who started this thread.

        1. He has always had something extra in Canada. Check jos record here.

  2. Andre Furtado
    9th June 2017, 23:58

    Stroll just can’t even get close to massa huh that’s crazy bad. Imagine if he was against bottas like it was supposed to be originally.

    1. Yeah but I think we’ve established by now he and Vandoorne as another example, deserve some time and patience, no? Look at how tricky these tires are being. Consider that LS may be driving conservatively to learn but also to not set himself back with a shunt.

      1. Neither driver you mentioned deserves the seat.

        Lower tier success means nothing in F1 at the end of the day. Many champions fall when they step into F1.

        It’s he lack of hunger from either driver. There’s no killer instinct in either.

      2. @robbie Stroll’s best lap was on supersofts anyway, and Vandoorne’s was on softs.

        Massa’s best lap on softs was a 1:15:3 and on ultras, it was 1:14:0. Vandoorne’s lap was a 1:15:5 or 1:15:6. Taking Massa’s delta as reference, he could have been very close to Alonso had he set a decent lap. McLaren seems to be surprisingly fast here.

        Similarly taking other drivers as reference, Stroll would have found a 0.7-0.8 s on the ultras, meaning he would have been within 0.4s of Massa. Not bad for his first time around the track.

        I hope both Vandoorne and Stroll do well here.

      3. @robbie, Keith did point out in his previous article that Stroll did not do a qualifying simulation run in that session whereas Massa did, meaning that a large chunk of that time difference is due to the performance offset between the soft tyre that Stroll was using and the ultrasoft tyre that Massa used for that qualifying style run.

    2. Now imagine where would williams be with an Alonso, Ham, Danny Ric, max, vettel. Their car might aswell be as quick as the rbr but no great drivers there.

      1. Massa is well up there this year and kept Bottas honest last

        1. Not really Fran.

          Last year Bottas scored 62% of the team points (85 to 53) and won the qualifying battle 17 to 4 (!).

          1. Point proven, thanks for the back up stats

      2. Right, if we assume Massa is showing the potential of the car, Stroll is wasting that seat currently. It’s sad to see for Williams.

        1. I’d say Massa is kinda waisting that seat… Imho it’s pretty safe to say that had they had someone like Sainz and/or Hulkenberg or maybe Grosjean they’d be further up the road by now .

          1. @jeffreyj You can’t say that with any degree of certainty. I’d criticized Massa constantly last year, but these new cars are totally different and much closer in the way they need to be driven to the time when Massa was really good. Cars suiting or not suiting certain drivers natural driving style is a factor that gets constantly underestimated. Yes, the very rare super adaptable drivers like Alonso can drive anything super fast. But not being adaptable doesn’t mean you can’t be super fast if the car’s traits suit you. Not even the 2 other drivers currently on the grid considered to be candidates for the All Time Greats list, namely LH and SV are as adaptable, and struggle if the car doesn’t suit them. So, seeing that Stroll isn’t a benchmark we can’t know how well is Massa driving this year compared to last year.

          2. @jeffreyj A little harsh! It’s hard to get a read on how Massa is doing this season with Stroll in the other seat. He appears to be doing an o.k. job. I also wonder what results we would see from the team with one of the drivers you mentioned in the seat.

            Very hard to judge the pace of the Williams car this season. The money Stroll brings is clearly helping the team, but to no benefit with the woeful results.

        2. Ironically, its strolls millions that have gone towards producing a good car but strolls ability means they cant capitalise.

    3. 2017 is not the year of the rookie. The cars are harder to master. I’ am not going do any assumptions at this end of the year, any conclusions on Strolls performance are in my opinion premature and based on last years gummy bear car specs.

      1. True, difficult to see development in the rookies considering both Stroll and Vandoorne have three retirements a piece and one DNS!

        We should perhaps reserve judgment until the first few races after the summer break!

  3. Mercs will certainly have the advantage during qualifying but on race trim Ferrari can close the gap IMO. But the team from Maranello need a well planned and flexible strategy and good driving if they even remotely hope to overcome the Silver Arrows on this track.

  4. Friday practice has been a spinny one so far.

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