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Featured Canadian GP Debrief: Hamilton back on track in Montreal

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    hamiltoncanada.jpg After stumbling at the final hurdle in Monaco, Sunday marked a return to regularly-scheduled programming for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

    Two weeks after a strategy blunder cost him almost certain victory, a faultless afternoon saw Lewis Hamilton back on the top step in Canada.

    The result was never in doubt for Hamilton as he led from lights-to-flag to record his fourth victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Teammate Nico Rosberg – while finishing just 2.285 seconds behind Hamilton – failed to mount any real challenge as the Brit was able to keep pace in hand throughout. If it wasn’t the case in Monaco, certainly in regards to Canada, the best man won.

    And while the race was devoid of the late theatrics that made the 2014 edition so memorable, the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix left us with plenty to discuss, so let’s get to it!

    canadastart.jpg Hamilton re-establishes supremacy over Rosberg

    They say the best sportsmen have short memories – certainly, Lewis Hamilton fits that description.

    Showing no signs of distraction or discontent in the aftermath of his aforementioned lost victory – nor his unusual crash in Friday practice, Hamilton comfortably bested teammate Nico Rosberg in both qualifying and the race to take his fourth victory of the season. In the end, the only threat to his race was a thirsty engine that forced him to keep one eye on fuel consumption – a far cry from the loss of pole and brake failure that eventually cost him last year.

    Speaking on the podium post-race, Hamilton insisted he was never really troubled, and simply put, he’s right. This was about as comfortable as it gets going against his teammate, and therein lies the real story – Nico Rosberg isn’t getting any closer.

    Seven races into the season, we’re still wondering: is Rosberg going to make a run here? He seems to spend so much time chasing after Hamilton’s rear end that his wife is probably getting jealous. It’s not just the two wins either (that’s the same as at this point last year), but the fact that he’s getting thrashed in qualifying too. Compared to last year, Montreal was the place where Rosberg narrowed the qualy-battle gap to 3-4, but this year? He leaves down 6-1.

    In 2014 it was Rosberg’s qualifying performances that were his saving grace – compared to Hamilton, he was the one more likely to find the right setup for the specific demands of the track on a Saturday, and therefore put him in with a chance on a Sunday. And although his performance in Barcelona hinted he might have found his footing, the evidence continues to build that suggests that was just an outlier.

    Combined with the difficulties Rosberg has had in the past fighting Hamilton on track, it only stands to follow that he appears so far behind. Even if the 17-point gap in the standings implies otherwise, we’ve seen enough driving on a large-enough variety of tracks to recognize the way things are headed. Right now Hamilton is on another plane compared to Rosberg – if something really is to change, it has to happen awfully soon.

    P-20150605-10009_News.jpg Horner forced to defend chassis after Ricciardo’s “new low”

    Comparing the mood on Sunday in the Red Bull garage to the same time last year, it’s safe to assume things are dramatically different.

    A year after his stunning maiden victory in Formula 1 at the same circuit, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo found himself in a markedly different place in Montreal, enduring a frustrating weekend that saw him struggle to ninth on the grid and finish a season-worst thirteenth. However, instead of justifying his woes with the team’s usual spiel about the inadequacies of the Renault engine, the Australian decided to take aim at a target closer to home, admitting Red Bull themselves have failed to deliver:

    "Obviously on the power side we know where that is, but on the chassis side there's something there which we can't grab onto which we had last year."

    Unsurprisingly, team boss Christian Horner was quick to defend the RB11, stating the problem was 85% with the engine, but maybe Ricciardo is onto something.

    To characterise Red Bull’s season as ‘disappointing’ would be to seriously understate the situation. If nothing else, their constant sniping at engine supplier Renault is emblematic of a team that was a little too enamoured with their championship pedigree, and have been slow to acknowledge their own deficiencies. Even with the power deficit of their Renault engine last year, the team was able to finish second in the constructor’s championship and snag three wins with Ricciardo. Certainly reliability has been a greater concern this year, but it doesn’t completely account for the drop-off in qualifying pace, which is something Ricciardo at least seems to recognise. Whether that follows through the rest of the team is yet to be seen.

    Of course, Horner could be right, as Renault is yet to use any of its engine-development ‘tokens’, but as Ferrari’s suboptimal weekend just showed, it is no guarantee of immediate improvement. Perhaps this is just Ricciardo coming to the realisation that they are stuck with Renault for at least twelve more races, and finger-pointing simply isn’t a viable solution to fixing what appears to be a very flawed car.

    alonsocanada.JPG Alonso breaks radio silence – is frustration beginning to mount at McLaren?

    If Sunday’s radio outburst was any indication, Fernando Alonso is not a very happy camper.

    25 laps into the race, Alonso was told on team radio that he would have to start saving fuel in order to make it to the end. The Spaniard was having none of it, angrily protesting that such measures made him “look like [an] amateur”.

    It seems that despite the promise that originally drew Alonso to the McLaren-Honda partnership, the reality of their 2015 season is starting to take its toll. Most mid-race radio exchanges should be taken with a grain of salt – it’s easy to forget both the strain and the adrenaline these drivers must be feeling during the course of a race, but there’s something to be said when a driver launches into a diatribe against his own car.

    It’s fair to assume that Alonso’s assertion that he doesn’t regret moving away from a now-resurgent Ferrari is in earnest, but as his exchange in Sunday’s race showed, it’s still also possible he’s dissatisfied with the rate of McLaren’s development. There’s no denying this will be a long season for both team and driver, they just have to believe that in the end it will be worth it.

    Is Hamilton v Rosberg already decided? Should Red Bull start looking at their own problems? What to make of Alonso's outburst? Sound off in the comments below.
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  2. The thing you have to take away from McLaren is that the lap Alonso posted in qually this year was 0.1 of a second quicker then that set by Magnussun and 0.1 of a second slower then that set by Button last year with the Mercedes Powertrain/2014 McLaren chassis + aero combination.

    On that front they have definitely made progress and in the right direction. It shows how well the chassis and aero is performing relative to the somewhat 50BHP deficit the current Honda powertrain has compaired to last years Mercedes powertrain come this point in the season. Good things will come it will just take time.
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  3. Melv

    Premium Member

    I spent time doing my laundry and watching the race in bits :(

    I have been watching F1 for the last 15 years (started in 2000, Williams is still my team :D) Formula one has lost its mojo and needs to get it back soon. I remember seasons past where i would be glued to the TV not knowing what was going to happen. Every once in a while there would be exceptions where 1 team totally dominated (2002, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2013) but in between we would amazing seasons with 2-3 drivers in the hunt for the championship (2003,2005,2006,2007,2008,2010,2012). Somehow this new F1 has lost the thrill, mercedes has advantage that no one can catch with the current restrictions. The noise and atmosphere are not the same, the drivers are not pushed to the limit.

    The big manufacturers are screwing everyones happiness and what F1 is all about. The day Frank's team goes, the last true racing team, that will be the last day I watch F1.

    I pray and hope things change soon and for the better.