Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017

Ferrari have strategic options to challenge Mercedes

2017 Canadian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Lewis Hamilton took an emphatic pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix. But his path to victory is not entirely assured.

As has been the case every time he’s started from pole position this season, Sebastian Vettel will line up alongside him. And as Friday practice showed, Ferrari can count on having the long run pace to make a serious nuisance of themselves.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017
Canadian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Last year Hamilton lost his advantage from pole position to a fast-starting Vettel who lined up third. Second place is a tricky place to start from at Montreal, as it leaves the driver vulnerable to being edged wide by the pole sitter at turn two. Hamilton may already be thinking of how to stitch Vettel up there and open the door for the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to get through.

However the start plays out, the strategists are expected to favour single-stop strategies again this weekend due to the longevity of the tyres. However an unusual trait in Canada is that the hardest available tyre is, in Pirelli’s estimation, a viable option for the race.

F1’s official tyre supplier reckons the ideal strategy involves 22 laps on the ultra-softs followed by a 48-lap stint on the softs. Alternatively the race could be split almost in two with a 33-lap stint on ultra-softs followed by 37 on the super-softs. All the drivers starting inside the top ten will be on used ultra-softs.

This could give the strategists some room for manoeuvre. If, for instance, Vettel finds himself stuck behind Hamilton and unable to exploit the ‘undercut’, he could use the Ferrari’s superior tyre life to run a longer first stint then switch to super-softs for an attacking final stint.

The rate at which the field spreads out behind them will have a bearing on this. However in Canada the teams can count on being able to get through traffic much more easily than at Monaco, for instance.

The higher-than-usual threat of a Safety Car or Virtual Safety Car will be another concern. Ferrari learned the hard way last year that VSC periods are not always as helpful for making penalty-free pit stops.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’12.6921’12.496 (-0.196)1’11.459 (-1.037)
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’13.0461’12.749 (-0.297)1’11.789 (-0.960)
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’12.6851’12.563 (-0.122)1’12.177 (-0.386)
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’13.5481’12.580 (-0.968)1’12.252 (-0.328)
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1’13.1771’12.751 (-0.426)1’12.403 (-0.348)
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’13.5431’12.810 (-0.733)1’12.557 (-0.253)
7Felipe MassaWilliams1’13.4351’13.012 (-0.423)1’12.858 (-0.154)
8Sergio PerezForce India1’13.4701’13.262 (-0.208)1’13.018 (-0.244)
9Esteban OconForce India1’13.5201’13.320 (-0.200)1’13.135 (-0.185)
10Nico HulkenbergRenault1’13.8041’13.406 (-0.398)1’13.271 (-0.135)
11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’13.8021’13.690 (-0.112)
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’13.6691’13.693 (+0.024)
13Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’14.0511’13.756 (-0.295)
14Romain GrosjeanHaas1’13.7801’13.839 (+0.059)
15Jolyon PalmerRenault1’13.9901’14.293 (+0.303)
16Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’14.182
17Lance StrollWilliams1’14.209
18Kevin MagnussenHaas1’14.318
19Marcus EricssonSauber1’14.495
20Pascal WehrleinSauber1’14.810

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton19.623 (1)22.950 (1)28.886 (2)
Sebastian Vettel19.713 (2)23.061 (2)28.815 (1)
Valtteri Bottas19.863 (3)23.151 (3)29.109 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen19.887 (4)23.216 (4)28.953 (3)
Max Verstappen19.946 (5)23.287 (5)29.170 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo20.006 (6)23.414 (7)29.081 (4)
Felipe Massa20.253 (11)23.348 (6)29.100 (5)
Sergio Perez20.207 (9)23.466 (8)29.285 (9)
Esteban Ocon20.145 (8)23.581 (9)29.250 (8)
Nico Hulkenberg20.269 (12)23.615 (10)29.372 (10)
Daniil Kvyat20.450 (14)23.706 (14)29.436 (11)
Fernando Alonso20.091 (7)23.629 (11)29.741 (16)
Carlos Sainz Jnr20.413 (13)23.674 (12)29.544 (12)
Romain Grosjean20.244 (10)23.764 (16)29.658 (14)
Jolyon Palmer20.541 (15)23.690 (13)29.722 (15)
Stoffel Vandoorne20.585 (17)23.753 (15)29.832 (19)
Lance Stroll20.549 (16)23.930 (18)29.574 (13)
Kevin Magnussen20.653 (18)23.910 (17)29.755 (17)
Marcus Ericsson20.683 (19)24.017 (19)29.795 (18)
Pascal Wehrlein20.743 (20)24.132 (20)29.872 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari335.0 (208.2)
2Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer334.6 (207.9)-0.4
3Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes332.5 (206.6)-2.5
4Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes332.1 (206.4)-2.9
5Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes331.5 (206.0)-3.5
6Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari331.5 (206.0)-3.5
7Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer329.8 (204.9)-5.2
8Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes329.7 (204.9)-5.3
9Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes328.7 (204.2)-6.3
10Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari328.3 (204.0)-6.7
11Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault328.2 (203.9)-6.8
12Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari328.2 (203.9)-6.8
13Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault328.0 (203.8)-7.0
14Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes327.7 (203.6)-7.3
15Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault326.6 (202.9)-8.4
16Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault325.6 (202.3)-9.4
17Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari324.8 (201.8)-10.2
18Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari324.5 (201.6)-10.5
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda319.6 (198.6)-15.4
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda318.3 (197.8)-16.7

Over to you

How do you expect the race will unfold? Is this going to be a straight Hamilton-versus-Vettel fight or will their team mates get involved?

Share your views on the Canadian Grand Prix in the comments.

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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35 comments on “Ferrari have strategic options to challenge Mercedes”

  1. Ocon is coming for Perez lol.

  2. Different aero for Ricciardo and Verstappen by the look of it.

    1. I doubt it. Max must have been in the slipstream of another car, when he reached those 334 kph. If you look at his best S3-time it’s slightly slower than Ricciardo’s, despite the latter being almost 5 kph slower through the speed trap.

      1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
        11th June 2017, 13:00

        Or simply Max upping his game. So far Max has outperformed Dani boy this season. I guess all those time Max was in someone’s slipstream.

        1. @just-an-fan You’re missing the point. Max having a higher top speed than Ricciardo is not simply down to “him being better”.

  3. I was shocked he immediately removed the helmet from the box. It’s a collection piece. You shouldn’t touch it. Hasnt been touched in years. You could ruin it. Yet he grabs it as if it is his own. Is anyone a bit too spoiled

    1. Zimbio, that helmet was in fact a replica helmet which was commissioned for use in publicity events after Senna won the 1987 Monaco GP. It was made to the same specification and appearance as Senna’s race helmets, but does not appear to have actually been used for anything other than photo shoots. https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/senna-hamilton-ayrton-helmet-confusion-916979/

      Furthermore, that particular helmet has been used for quite a few public events over the years by the Senna Foundation, so in reality it has probably been handled much more regularly than you think.

      1. is it really a replica? The presenter clearly stated that it was the real deal, race worn helmet of Airton.

        1. @gechichan, I guess that the confusion has come about because Senna’s family have said that they will eventually give him an original race helmet, but the one they presented him with at the time was a replica one.

    2. Yet he grabs it as if it is his own.

      Isn’t it?

    3. Think before you speak Zimbio, it’s a great way of limiting stupidity.

  4. Pascal with a 2016 engine and Max in a Renault have highest top speeds, is that right? Seems very odd

    1. Sumedh, as others have noted, those drivers were probably in the slipstream of another car when they recorded those speed trap figures – the speed trap figures do not distinguish between the speed of the car in free air and when slipstreaming another car.

  5. There are some likely fights in the race itself.

    At the front, it seemed obvious that Hamilton’s Merc had the ultimate pace advantage over Vettel’s Ferrari but over the long run of the race, Vettel might be able to get closer and challenge Hamilton. Having said that, it would be difficult on this power circuit.

    Bottas on the other hand should get well ahead of Raikkonen as the race progresses. The senior Finn seems to lose pace as his tyres get older more obviously than the other frontrunners.

    But for me the most interesting fight will be between the Red Bull teammates. Verstappen has shown the edge over Ricciardo in qualifying but IMO, the Aussie is a better racer in the second half of a race, as the car gets lighter and with older tyres. Ricciardo is generally a good finisher and IMO will be ahead of his teammate at the chequered flag.

    1. I actually thought Raikkonen’s race pace looked pretty impressive. I think it will be a close battle between the #2 drivers tomorrow.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        11th June 2017, 9:47

        Is there a race tomorrow? :D It’s been race day for over 9 hours from the time you posted this if the time is correct.

        1. Who knows where he is from. I think the time displayed is always the time in Britain. Just checked, e.g. in western Australia the race is starting at 04:00 in the morning on Monday.

        2. Yes, it is indeed the current time in Britain.

    2. @loup-garou Räikkönen’s main strength has always been his tire management. He would usually get stronger during the race and that’s why he set so many fastest laps. Sadly, this year he seems to be lacking his usual tire-friendliness. He had massive degradation in China and also in Monaco he lost his small advantage over Vettel before the stops. On the other hand, Bottas usually has the worst tire degradation of the front-runners, so it will be close I think.

      1. In Monte Carlo, he was stuck in traffic which gave Vettel the opportunity to try an over-cut. There wasn’t much Kimi could do except clear the traffic as fast as he could and then crank out enough fast laps for insurance. However, it seems he only had two laps of clear air before hitting traffic again. One report estimated that had he of had one more lap in clear air, he would have beat Vettel when Seb came out of the pits. I view that as a forced error.

      2. That’s true, interestingly Kimi’s qualifications have been really strong this season again. Previous years I think he had problems with getting tires to work during qualifications. So is the trade off for that now worse degradation in races?

    3. @loup-garou, why would it be difficult for Vettel to catch up with Hamilton on a power circuit? AMuS is reporting that, if anything, Ferrari now has a slight advantage in terms of peak power when compared to Mercedes (not surprising if, as was rumoured over the winter period, Ferrari put more of their resources into maximising the peak power of their power unit whilst Mercedes focussed more on reliability to address some of the issues that came up last year).

      Whilst that might be disputed, I think that a lot of individuals have exaggerated the power advantage that Mercedes have had in the past.

      1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
        11th June 2017, 13:01

        Mercedes are still burning oil, that only in one lap. in circuits where oil burning won’t work, you see hamilton ends where he belongs i.e. 14th in Monaco.

        1. You are right @just-an-fan : Hamilton can’t drive and should be kicked out of F1…
          Or you could be a bit more subtle in your critics. ;)

        2. @just-an-fan, I presume that you are not the same individual who is on the F1 Technical forums with the same user name, are you? Mind you, you seem to come across as a petty, vindictive and occasionally downright xenophobic individual, whereas the poster with the same name on that forum is much more mature.

      2. Why would it be difficult for Vettel to catch up with Hamilton on a power circuit?

        Just an opinion. To me it seems like where out and out “grunt” matters more than anything else, Mercedes still have significant advantage over Ferrari. Vettel often getting between the 2 Mercs during qualifying gives the impression that the speed advantage is smaller than it actually is.

        But Ferrari probably have a slight edge on aerodynamics and make the softest tyre compounds last a wee bit longer. But even a slight shift in the variables will swing the advantage back to Merc during a race.

        1. vettel admitted to making mistakes,so he could have been quicker than he was with a clean lap.

        2. One explaination is that Mercedes have a bit more power and at high speed tracks, they can add more down force and the horsepower advantage reduces the the additional drag. If you watched the in-car during quali, you would notice the Mercedes required less driver input as though it was well planted. The ferrari on the other hand required a ton of driver input in comparrison which tells me they are running light but don’t the HP to crank on more down force.

  6. I’m seriously looking forward for this race, hopefully Hamilton winning it of course.

    1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
      11th June 2017, 13:03

      Wouldn’t it be sweet to see Vettel wins it? Merc can burn oil for pole, but come race day they are desperate to make tyres work. haha can”t wait.

      1. wouldn’t it be sweet to see Max or Ric to win it, for a change? Maybe a bit of rain will help them, i’d really like to see a 3 way fight for victories in the second half of the season. RBR seem to be a bit closer, just shy of a second from pole, on a power circuit.

  7. @f1infigures
    I disagree. Raikkonen’s main strength is interviews and press conferences. That’s where he is at his best.

    1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

      I disagree. Raikkonen’s main strength is interviews and press conferences. That’s where he is at his best.

      Presumably his second strength is patiently listening to his engineer, and third is his ability to resist ice cream?

  8. Abiteboul has said that RedBull will not receive ANY engine upgrade this year anymore, according to Dutch media.

    Riccardo and Horner both said this weekend that the upgrade that was originally planned for Canada would now be coming in Baku. However, now Renault boss Abitboul says this…. that’s very dissapointing to me. RedBull will now almost certainly not be competitive all year :(

Comments are closed.