Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019

Under-pressure Vettel needs “perfect race” to keep Hamilton back

2019 Canadian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Sebastian Vettel’s relief at scoring his first pole position for 17 races was clear to see.

The Ferrari driver erupted with joy when he was told he had beaten Lewis Hamilton with his final lap of qualifying. However with the championship leader starting alongside him, Vettel is well aware the job is not yet half-done.

Vettel has had a tough time in the races since his previous pole position at last year’s German Grand Prix. He crashed out of that race while leading in front of his home crowd. Further errors at Monza, Suzuka and Austin wrecked his championship hopes. And 2019 has not started according to plan, with team mate Charles Leclerc showing him the way more often than a sophomore driver should, and Vettel compounding the situation with another costly error in Bahrain.

For Vettel to reassert his credentials as a championship contender, nothing less than a victory will do. He needs to see off Hamilton and, ideally, get Leclerc in between him and the Mercedes as well. But that’s far easier written than done, even with the considerable advantage of pole position.

“It will be a very, very close battle,” Vettel predicted. “We know our strengths, we know our weaknesses.”

Ferrari’s biggest strength – perhaps its only major one – is its straight-line speed. Aided by Leclerc’s slipstream, Vettel was 2kph faster through the speed trap than anyone on Saturday.

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“Obviously we are very quick down the straights, let’s assume not so easy to pass but we will see,” he said. “We know that in terms of pace it will be very, very close and we need a perfect race tomorrow to fight for the win.”

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019
Ricciardo has a shot at beating the Red bulls from fourth
Providing the Ferrari driver gets off the line reasonably well, he can also count on the short run to turn one helping him keep ahead of Hamilton. The Mercedes driver will no doubt be acutely aware of the risk of getting ‘hung out’ on the outside of turn one, which Vettel could use to help Leclerc get ahead.

Hamilton’s biggest threat to Vettel is likely to come from the Mercedes’ long-run performance. Valtteri Bottas demonstrated its potential on Friday. Hamilton, of course, was unable to do the same after damaging his car, which could put him at a slight disadvantage.

All the indications are Sunday will be a very warm day – air temperatures hitting 28C and track temperature potentially hitting 50C. The Mercedes and Ferrari drivers all qualified on the medium tyres, so they won’t be making the same early bid for the pits those starting on the softs (led by Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly) will have to.

Ferrari have seldom looked like a threat to Mercedes in race conditions so far this year. The exception was Bahrain, where they were able to hit the front, run in clean air and manage their tyres as they saw fit. A key aspect of Sunday’s race will be how much better Vettel can manage his tyres if, as expected, he leads the early stages.

Mercedes, however, will surely snatch a chance to change Hamilton’s tyres early and force Ferrari to follow them, hoping that by doing so their rivals will have to push their tyres too far.

“Whatever opportunity comes we will try to capitalise on,” said Hamilton. “[It’s] probably a one stop so looking after the tyres is going to be really key.”

The long straights of Montreal mean it is often thought of as a track where overtaking is easy. However that doesn’t always prove to be the case. “It’s very hard to follow here,” Hamilton acknowledged, “even though there’s mainly straights, they are very quick on the straights. So I don’t know how following Seb is going to be tomorrow if I’m in that position, but I just hope that we are able to be close and have a real race throughout the race.”

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Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Sebastian VettelFerrari1’11.2001’11.142 (-0.058)1’10.240 (-0.902)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’11.5181’11.010 (-0.508)1’10.446 (-0.564)
3Charles LeclercFerrari1’11.2141’11.205 (-0.009)1’10.920 (-0.285)
4Daniel RicciardoRenault1’11.8371’11.532 (-0.305)1’11.071 (-0.461)
5Pierre GaslyRed Bull1’12.0231’11.196 (-0.827)1’11.079 (-0.117)
6Valtteri BottasMercedes1’11.2291’11.095 (-0.134)1’11.101 (+0.006)
7Nico HulkenbergRenault1’11.7201’11.553 (-0.167)1’11.324 (-0.229)
8Lando NorrisMcLaren1’11.7801’11.735 (-0.045)1’11.863 (+0.128)
9Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren1’11.7501’11.572 (-0.178)1’13.981 (+2.409)
10Kevin MagnussenHaas1’12.1071’11.786 (-0.321)
11Max VerstappenRed Bull1’11.6191’11.800 (+0.181)
12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’11.9651’11.921 (-0.044)
13Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1’12.1221’12.136 (+0.014)
14Alexander AlbonToro Rosso1’12.0201’12.193 (+0.173)
15Romain GrosjeanHaas1’12.1091’20.197 (+8.088)
16Sergio PerezRacing Point1’12.197
17Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo1’12.230
18Lance StrollRacing Point1’12.266
19George RussellWilliams1’13.617
20Robert KubicaWilliams1’14.393

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel19.357 (2)22.427 (3)28.449 (1)
Lewis Hamilton19.323 (1)22.369 (1)28.683 (3)
Charles Leclerc19.483 (4)22.418 (2)28.633 (2)
Daniel Ricciardo19.591 (6)22.613 (5)28.766 (4)
Pierre Gasly19.530 (5)22.569 (4)28.906 (9)
Valtteri Bottas19.449 (3)22.618 (6)28.903 (8)
Nico Hulkenberg19.741 (9)22.701 (7)28.838 (6)
Lando Norris19.792 (12)22.897 (11)28.880 (7)
Carlos Sainz Jnr19.757 (10)22.871 (9)28.780 (5)
Kevin Magnussen19.683 (8)22.910 (13)28.954 (11)
Max Verstappen19.613 (7)22.727 (8)29.043 (14)
Daniil Kvyat19.828 (14)22.903 (12)29.021 (13)
Antonio Giovinazzi20.038 (15)22.927 (14)28.958 (12)
Alexander Albon19.778 (11)22.885 (10)29.085 (17)
Romain Grosjean19.806 (13)22.995 (17)29.076 (15)
Sergio Perez20.055 (16)22.945 (15)29.148 (18)
Kimi Raikkonen20.102 (18)22.961 (16)29.084 (16)
Lance Stroll20.082 (17)23.062 (18)28.937 (10)
George Russell20.493 (19)23.386 (19)29.624 (19)
Robert Kubica20.708 (20)23.772 (20)29.913 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari333.3 (207.1)
2Sergio PerezRacing PointMercedes330.9 (205.6)-2.4
3Daniel RicciardoRenaultRenault330.7 (205.5)-2.6
4Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoFerrari329.8 (204.9)-3.5
5Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoFerrari329.7 (204.9)-3.6
6Charles LeclercFerrariFerrari329.3 (204.6)-4.0
7Carlos Sainz JnrMcLarenRenault328.9 (204.4)-4.4
8Lance StrollRacing PointMercedes328.8 (204.3)-4.5
9Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault328.5 (204.1)-4.8
10Alexander AlbonToro RossoHonda328.4 (204.1)-4.9
11Lando NorrisMcLarenRenault327.8 (203.7)-5.5
12Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes327.7 (203.6)-5.6
13George RussellWilliamsMercedes326.8 (203.1)-6.5
14Robert KubicaWilliamsMercedes326.6 (202.9)-6.7
15Max VerstappenRed BullHonda326.5 (202.9)-6.8
16Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari326.4 (202.8)-6.9
17Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari326.3 (202.8)-7.0
18Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes326.1 (202.6)-7.2
19Daniil KvyatToro RossoHonda325.9 (202.5)-7.4
20Pierre GaslyRed BullHonda324.4 (201.6)-8.9

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Over to you

Will Vettel end Mercedes’ streak of victories in today’s race? Could Ricciardo hold off the Red Bulls or even Bottas after qualifying fourth?

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

2019 Canadian Grand Prix

Browse all 2019 Canadian Grand Prix articles

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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6 comments on “Under-pressure Vettel needs “perfect race” to keep Hamilton back”

  1. This article is just filled with a comedy of opinions, for all you can clown Vettel for e.g spinning, leading from the front is not one of them.

  2. I don’t think Hamilton will try to undercut the Ferraris. Usually when Vettel wins the start, he’ll push hard in the early stages. Hamilton, on the other hand, takes a more cautious approach, so his tires might be in a better shape later on in the race. Perhaps Vettel is even forced into a 2-stop strategy, whereas Hamilton may get away with just one stop, which gives him reasonable chances of winning the race, even though he (temporarily) has to battle both Ferraris.

  3. Will Vettel end Mercedes’ streak of victories in today’s race? – No.
    Could Ricciardo hold off the Red Bulls or even Bottas after qualifying fourth? – No.

  4. Ferrari will be hoping that their phantom strategist M. Hulot (as played b Jacques Tati) does not take over their race plan today.

  5. [ghost from the future] Sentient headline, one mistake less than perfection and Vettel indeed didn’t keep Hamilton back. Sort of.

    1. @david-br haha this article aged like wine

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