With Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo all equal on two wins each so far in 2018, the championship hunt is hotting up as we head to the seventh round of the championship – the Canadian Grand Prix. Here are your reasons to watch all of the F1 action this weekend!
A record-breaking weekend?
Lewis Hamilton has impeccable form at the Canadian Grand Prix, and this weekend could be a record-breaking one for him.
Pole position would see him beat Michael Schumacher’s record of six at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and would make him the first man to take four back-to-back pole positions in Canada. On Sunday, Hamilton could equal Schumacher’s tally of seven Montreal victories – and if he does so, his championship lead will be the largest it has been so far in 2018.
But look out for those just behind Hamilton in the standings, too. Sebastian Vettel hasn’t finished below fifth at this track since his début season and has finished on the podium in four of the last five Canadian Grands Prix, while Valtteri Bottas is currently on a streak of three consecutive podium finishes in Canada. Could either of those two close the title hunt up?
Honey Badger on a charge
Daniel Ricciardo’s Monaco redemption will surely be one of his sweetest victories yet, but the Honey Badger will have his work cut out to repeat his success here in Canada. Ricciardo is now equal to Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel on two wins in 2018, but he’s set to start quite a way down the field due to engine penalties.
Adrian Newey is certain that the Australian will require at least a new MGU-K in his Red Bull. With it being his third such component of the season, he’ll drop ten places from where he qualifies. Any additional changes to either his electronics store or control electronics will drop him to the back of the grid.
On the plus side, Newey believes Renault’s latest engine upgrades are worth around a tenth of a second. With three DRS zones at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the first time this weekend, Ricciardo may be able to make some of his infamous bold moves to clamber back through the field.
Verstappen bounces back?
It seems to be a recurring feature in our race previews this season, but Max Verstappen is still yet to have a clean weekend in 2018. His crash in the final practice session in Monaco almost certainly cost him the chance of a Monaco podium, if not a win.
Christian Horner has said this week that the Dutchman would do well to learn from his older teammate, saying that Verstappen has a “very good teacher” in Daniel Ricciardo.
Verstappen has only one previous points finish in the Canadian Grand Prix when he finished fourth in 2016. He sits just three points ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Drivers’ Championship as we head into the weekend.
Return of the Hypersofts
For the second race in a row, the new Hypersoft tyres will be in action over the Canadian Grand Prix weekend. While Pirelli predicted their new pink-walled tyres could last 77 laps in Monaco, they’re almost certain that this weekend’s race will be a two-stop event – meaning strategy could be very important.
No, this is not déjà vu. Same #Fit4F1 colours, different track. Hypersoft may have made its appearance at Monaco, but Montreal will be the real debut. #CanadianGP https://t.co/YKyFDRhzRp pic.twitter.com/C7XLH7Cwd6
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) June 4, 2018
The tyre choices this year – Hypersoft, Ultrasoft and Supersoft – are the softest ever used at this track, and none of the teams knows exactly how the softest of the tyres will behave at this demanding circuit.
That means lots of running in Friday practice will be vital for each team’s understanding of how the race will unfold. The softer tyre also means Lewis Hamilton’s track record set in Q3 last season is likely to be beaten on Saturday – but by how much will the lap times tumble?
Three men under pressure
Three men head to the Canadian Grand Prix feeling the pressure. Brendon Hartley’s seat is in the spotlight once again this week. After reports that Mercedes-linked Pascal Wehrlein would be replacing him from this weekend onwards, we arrive in Montreal with Hartley still in his seat but with another name linked to it. This time, it’s Lando Norris who has reportedly been offered a drive with Toro Rosso for the remainder of the season. The current F2 championship leader was approached by the Italian team to drive for them from the Austrian Grand Prix onwards, but McLaren is believed to have blocked the move. Hartley’s seat appears to be safe for now, but he needs to start delivering points for the team – ideally beginning this weekend.
Elsewhere, the two men who are yet to score this season also need to turn around their fortunes. Sergey Sirotkin arrives at his teammate Lance Stroll’s home event. Last year in Canada, Stroll scored the first points of his F1 career. Will the FW41 be anywhere near competitive enough to give Sirotkin a shot at a top ten finish?
At Haas, Romain Grosjean remains pointless in 2018. Worryingly for the Frenchman’s hopes of getting his name on the board this weekend, since his podium in Canada in 2012 he has scored just two points at this track.
An exciting race?
The last two races of the season in Spain and Monaco haven’t been blockbusters, but Canada always seems to serve up something a little different.
Twelve of the last twenty races here have featured a Safety Car, five races here have been affected by wet weather, and you can never be too sure that the local wildlife won’t make an on-track appearance during the weekend. Add to that the Wall of Champions, Pirelli’s promise of a two-stop race and all of 2018’s ongoing stories and we could be in for a treat on Sunday evening.
The Canadian Grand Prix begins at 7:10pm (UK Time) on Sunday. In the UK, coverage is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.