Can fragile Ferraris stop Red Bull’s winning run? Seven Canadian GP talking points

2022 Canadian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 makes a long-overdue return to Canada this weekend for the first race in Montreal since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which kept this popular race off the calendar for the last two seasons.

Here are seven talking points heading into the first Canadian Grand Prix weekend

Can Ferrari fix their worrying reliability?

Leclerc has retired from the lead twice in three races
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix marked the lowest point of the season so far for Ferrari. For the fourth successive race weekend, the team arrived at the track on Sunday with high hopes of securing their third win of the year from pole position, and then left the circuit having seen Red Bull celebrating yet another victory instead.

Ferrari began the season with their reliability seemingly unquestionable, while Red Bull suffered unexpected breakdowns at crucial moments. However, that narrative has been overturned in the last three races. Charles Leclerc retired from the lead of the Spanish and the Azerbaijan Grands Prix, allowing Red Bull to cruise to five wins in a row to take a commanding lead in both championships.

The headaches for Ferrari were made more severe by Carlos Sainz Jnr also retiring from a sudden hydraulics failure. Meanwhile two more Ferrari-powered customer cars – the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen – also retired with hydraulic and power unit problems, respectively.

Ferrari say they will conduct a thorough investigation back at Maranello. But with this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix taking place only seven days after the race in Baku, getting on top of their reliability concerns this quickly will not be an easy task.

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A welcome return to Montreal

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019
It’s been three years since Montreal hosted a grand prix
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has always been one of the most popular venues on the Formula 1 calendar. Not just for its semi-street circuit layout where fast straights and mid-speed corners are hemmed in by barriers, but because of the vibrant city of Montreal and stunning location that has always made this weekend one of the most anticipated of the season.

This year, the Canadian fans will have two of their own to cheer. Nicholas Latifi finally gets to race at home in his third season as a Formula 1 driver. Lance Stroll has raced here many times before, but this will be the first time he has done so in the British Racing Green of Aston Martin.

As for the race itself, there are plenty of unknowns for everyone heading into this weekend. Not just for the teams and drivers, but also for Pirelli too, says motorsport director Mario Isola.

“Canada will pose a number of question marks for the teams,” Isola explained. “The weather is often variable, all previous data is three years old, and we have a completely different range of tyres with new compounds and structures, on a track that is hardly ever used – which will lead to a very high degree of evolution.

“One interesting aspect to Montreal is that it has one of the lowest pit lane time loss penalties on the calendar, meaning that a car can be in and out of the pit lane in less than 20 seconds. This could open up a few options in terms of strategy.”

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A first time winner?

Can Sainz do what Hamilton and Ricciardo did before him in Montreal?
Whether it’s the closeness of the barriers ready to punish mistakes or simply something in the water in the St Lawrence river that surrounds the Isle Notre Dame where the circuit is based, the Canadian Grand Prix has played host to an impressive number of first-time grand prix winners in its history.

They include the driver the track is now named after, Gilles Villeneuve, in 1978. Thierry Boutsen opened his account for Williams in 1989, then Jean Alesi and Robert Kubica took one-off triumphs.

Among the current crop of drivers, Daniel Ricciardo secured his first career win with Red Bull during a dramatic race in 2014. And Lewis Hamilton’s record tally of 103 grand prix wins began in Canada during his outstanding rookie season 15 years ago.

Sainz will be hoping that two years’ worth of good fortune will be built up ready for him to arrive for this weekend. While Ferrari are especially keen to break Red Bull’s run of victories after their double DNF in Baku, Sainz will want more than anyone to finally take his first career victory in a car that is clearly fast enough to beat Red Bull consistently on Saturdays.

But to do that, he’ll first have to beat Leclerc – by no means an easy prospect given his team mate’s form through 2022 so far. Sainz is the only driver yet to beat his team mate in qualifying this year, though he was on course for pole position after the first run in Q3 last weekend.

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Will Mercedes’ agony continue?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Hamilton suffered from back pain in Baku
After struggling all through the start of the 2022 season from porpoising at high speeds, Mercedes appeared to have found a workable solution with their upgrade package at the Spanish Grand Prix in May. Then, in Azerbaijan, the stiff suspension settings they were using over the bumps of the Baku City Circuit gave both drivers – Hamilton especially – a very uncomfortable time in the car.

Hamilton experimented with a new floor design which caused such severe bottoming-out he nearly lost control of his car at several points and ended the race in considerable pain. Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said avoiding a repeat of the bouncing troubles the team experienced in Baku will be a prime objective in Canada.

“The bumpier tracks seem to be a particular problem for us and Montreal is not especially smooth, so we’ve got one area there to work on over the next few days before we get running again,” Shovlin said.

“The team is determined to continue pushing to find solutions, to find performance and to get back to racing at the front.”

Drivers speak out over bumpy rides

While teams have made progress in reducing the problem of ‘porpoising’, drivers are increasingly concerned about the poor ride quality they are experiencing. The latest generation of cars are being run much more stiffly, and react poorly to bumpy tracks.

This prompted many drivers to raise the matter with the FIA during their briefing with race director Niels Wittich in Baku last Friday. However some team principals, notably Red Bull’s Christian Horner, have alleged this is being done for political reasons, to pressure the FIA into making rules changes which would help those teams whose cars perform less well over the bumps.

Meanwhile it remains to be seen how rough a ride they will suffer this weekend, on a track which hasn’t been used for three years.

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First and last hone race for Latifi?

Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Latifi finally gets to drive on his home track
Latifi may finally get to race in front of his home crowd, but will he be back next year? He has brought useful sponsorship to Williams since his arrival in 2020, but has lagged behind his team mates, and was even out-paced by Nyck de Vries when the Formula E world champion made a one-off appearance for the team in practice last month.

Now there are rumours Williams has decided to replace Latifi for next year. Reigning Formula 2 champion and Alpine junior Oscar Piastri is tipped to his place.

Meanwhile Latifi has hardly endeared himself to his rivals in recent races. He collected a five-second time penalty for responding too slowly to blue flags when Pierre Gasly tried to lap him last weekend. Sainz may wish to know why Latifi went unpunished for doing the same in Monaco, and potentially costing him victory.

F1’s calendar extremes

Formula 1 team’s 9,000 kilometre journey from Baku to Montreal for races on consecutive weekends highlights the excesses of this year’s calendar. It isn’t the first time teams have had to make such a trip, but rising travel costs and the need to reduce the series’ carbon footprint has cast a new light on the problem.

F1 is looking into ways to cut its travel next year, potentially by grouping more races together geographically. The Miami round in May would seem an obvious partner for the Canadian race, potentially allowing F1 to drastically cut its transatlantic travel.

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Are you going to the Canadian Grand Prix?

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2022 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
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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19 comments on “Can fragile Ferraris stop Red Bull’s winning run? Seven Canadian GP talking points”

  1. Can Ferrari fix their worrying reliability? – Hopefully, even if this meant temporarily detuning performance.
    A welcome return to Montreal – Indeed & usually good racing too.
    A first-time winner? – Maybe, but slightly unlikely on merit, given this season’s general form.
    Will Mercedes’ agony continue? – I reckon, yes, but hopefully not as bad a least.
    Drivers speak out over bumpy rides – & rightly so.
    First and last hone race for Latifi? – Probably since Piastri replacing him for next season seems quite likely.
    F1’s calendar extremes – Long trip, but pairing Montreal with Miami would pose cons on certain climatic aspects.

  2. I think the issue is the Redbulls aero package, it’s miles in front of the other teams.
    Ferrari and Merc likely have a more powerful PU but as shown since 2010 Redbull have had an excellent aero package that’s been able to compensate for a lesser PU. Mercedes did win for seven years in a row after they gained enough knowledge to build a car that could match Redbull but Merc always had the better PU.
    Now with a clean sheet, Redbull has again moved to the front. Ferrari and Merc need to work on their aero, if what I have read is correct the Merc is a brilliant design that just needs time to get right and when that happens…

    1. I agree on your view if you compare the PU over the last years but I think this year the MB power unit doesn’t look strong. Based on the performance of all the MB PU teams they look way behind the ferrari PU teams like Alfa and Haas. Maybe this is because they switched to the new fuel regulations.

  3. Red Bull had reliability issues for the first few races and appear to have gotten over them, so yes, of course Ferrari can fix that problem as well.
    I worry though that Ferrari still have that attitude problem in that they seem to work as a group of dedicated Ferrari employees rather than as a team.

    We need for Ferrari to get their act together or for Mercedes to fix their car.
    If not then we could we in for a boring Championship race by half way through the season.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      14th June 2022, 15:43

      When Ferrari fix their issue they will be getting grid penalties for new PU parts. ORBR in contrast didn’t have PU parts problems.

      It is odd though that AT have had PU parts problems.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        14th June 2022, 15:44

        Both ATs have taken maximum number allowed so far.

    2. @nullapax what is concerning for Ferrari, though, is that their issues reside in the engine package. Which is not necessarily easy to fix – or it might be easy to fix but at the expense of turning their engine down a bit and losing performance.

      Whereas RBR’s reliability issues seems to have been some minor issues (albeit with big impact) that were non-recurrent and easy to fix as they were just in auxiliary systems.

    3. Red Bull problems where a wrong connected fuelcel tubes stopped both Red Bulls the fire Max had was a hydro leak with caught fire. So different then a ICE who blows up or Turbo’s dying.

  4. Do Ferrari just need to borrow some of that amazing gaffer tape from Alpha Tauri to fix their reliability problems?

    1. That might be a good idea.

  5. Would love to see Piastri get a drive!

  6. This year, the Canadian fans will have two of their own to cheer…

    Yay! 🥳

    …Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll.

    …oh, never mind 😐

    1. Ahah, good one indeed.

  7. Would a Lotus 88 type of a solution help ease some of the driver discomfort due to excessive porpoising?

    For those too young to remember, Colin Chapman tried to work around the problem of super-stiff suspension settings required for utilization of full benefits from ground effects which caused problems to the drivers just like ones we see today. He designed a double-chassis car, in which one chassis which was practically unsprung carried the floor with the venturi tunnels, and within this chassis there was another normally sprung which carried the rest of the car including the driver. This was never raced, it was protested by other teams right away and FIA banned it as “moveable aerodynamics”.

    Since now moveable aerodynamics is allowed (see DRS), maybe this idea could be revisited and written into the rulebook?

    1. Coventry Climax
      14th June 2022, 23:07

      I’m a massive Chapman / Lotus fan. There’s nothing that drives like a Caterham Super Seven, which is an evolved Lotus 7, or a well tuned and setup Elise S1.
      Chapman’s ideas and solutions were always revolutionary, and I would have loved to see the solution you described above, Radoye, actually race. We will now never know whether it really was the solution to the problem, which is a shame, I think.
      Besides not knowing if it actually works, it is such a drastic conceptual change for all of the current teams, that even if it were ‘written in the rulebook’ as you call it, it wouldn’t be any good anyway for this current year, and given the budget cap, I don’t know if it would be a solution even for next season.
      But above all, I do not see why the rules should be changed again because some did not do their homework as well as others. To me, that would be downright unfair -if not plain punishment- to those who did get it right.
      But then again, we’ve seen exactly that, and many times over, in -roughly- the last decade. Which is part of why I feel F1 has been making a fool of itself.

      1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply CC.
        When i said the Lotus 88 double chassis solution should be “written into the rules” i didn’t mean it to be mandated, but rather to allow it, and other creative solutions in a similar vein, as an option. Rather than mandating a narrow one-size-fits-all set of rules to allow a bit of a wiggle room. And see what the brightest among the bright in the racing world are able to come up with, of course while staying under the budget cap! :)

  8. Unfortunately with Mercedes perpetually clueless on how to fix their car (maybe all those people they lost actually did hurt more than Toto let on) and Ferrari in their continual self destruction mode, it will be an easy coast to both titles for Red Bull/Max. Good thing there are interesting things to watch down in the rest of the field or I would have already given up on this season.

    1. Even without a championship challenge, ferrari could still go for some wins, a bit like in 2019, it was nice to see ferrari and red bull being able to challenge and beat mercedes, even though the norm was mercedes winning and ofc there was no chance on titles.

  9. Fragile… Reminded me of McLaren during late 1990s – early 2000s, the period when Hakkinen and Raikkonen drove one of the fast or fastest car, but suffered frequent reliability failures.

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