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F1 2015: Canadian GP Review – Mercedes Dominate In Montreal

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Canadian Grand Prix

Most would hold the opinion that the Canadian grand prix was far from the riveting showpiece it typically delivers. In terms of on track action they would be right but there were a number of significant goings-on for various teams.

It wouldn’t have been considered outlandish to expect McLaren to be threatening the outskirts of the top ten by race seven of the 2015 championship. The reality however is far from this lofty expectation. Neither Jenson Button nor Fernando Alonso saw the chequered flag at the end of the Canadian grand prix and whilst they were running it wasn’t pretty.

An ERS (energy recovery system) failure on Jenson Button’s number 22 McLaren meant that the Brit had to sit out qualifying which was the preface to yet another retirement this time due to an exhaust issue. The sister McLaren of Fernando Alonso ran until lap 44 until he too was forced into his third consecutive retirement. The Spaniard’s race was rather painful as the double world champion appeared as nothing more than a mobile chicane with cars sauntering past him with embarrassing ease.

Fernando Alonso_Canada 2015The McLaren drivers have been measured in their comments to the press since the start of the season but the frustrations are starting to show. First it was Jenson Button who described the McLaren as a scary car to drive which he then promptly walked back with a bit of PR spin. And then there is Fernando Alonso who remains adamant that he does not regret his departure from Ferrari.

The driver’s statements to the press are more often than not just PR drabble regimented by the team.  But occasionally we are privy to the radio comms between car and pitwall and here the unadorned feelings often come to light in very colourful ways.

Fernando Alonso irritation was evident as he told his team over the radio that he was being made to look like “an amateur” during the race. Similarly, when he was asked to save fuel after a meagre twenty-four laps Alonso responded with “I don’t want, I don’t want.”   As much as the blame has been placed at Honda’s doorstep McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier accepted that improvement is needed “everywhere.”

This year’s Canandian grand prix was far less dramatic for Mercedes than twelve months ago when brake failure devastated Lewis Hamilton’s race and severely impeded Nico Rosberg’s progress.  But even though Hamilton and Rosberg appeared to be untroubled as they secured a dominant one-two victory several issues needed managing throughout the race. At various stages both Hamilton and Rosberg were instructed to manage sky rocketing brake temperatures and the inevitable phase of fuel saving to get to the end of the grand prix.

GP CANADA F1/2015Just when it looks as if Ferrari has taken a step towards closing the chasm to Mercedes it’s found to be off base. The long run pace in the second free practice session suggested that the Ferrari was looking in great shape to take the fight to Ferrari. Besides the reality that Ferrari is still off the Merc pace, circumstances combined to make it a difficult weekend.

Sebastian Vettel’s ERS issue in qualifying and subsequent 5 place penalty for overtaking under red flag relegated him to the back of the grid. Yet, the German was able to make his way through to a solid fifth place by the end of the race. Kimi Raikkonen’s Saturday afternoon had a far better outcome with a season’s best third place on the grid.

The race itself wasn’t going too badly for the Finn who was keeping both Mercedes in sight. Alas, a couple of laps after switching onto the yellow side-walled soft tyre a spin at the exit of the turn ten hairpin comprised his afternoon’s work. The spin was eerily similar to one Raikkonen suffered in last year’s Canadian grand prix which was prompted by a difference in the torque map.  The Ferrari driver, who had now slipped to fourth, confirmed on the radio that the spin was “the same as last year.” A second pitstop for the supersoft tyre didn’t lose the number seven Ferrari any positions but left it nearly twenty seconds adrift of the third placed Williams of Valtteri Bottas. Despite Raikkonen’s best efforts his fellow Finn still held a five second gap by the time the chequered flag was unfurled.

Williams driver Felipe Massa too suffered issues in qualifying which dropped him to the back of the starting grid. The Brazilian was able to recover to sixth overall which included an inch perfect overtake on Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson. Pastor Maldonado, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat and the second Lotus of Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

Canada 2015_StartLast year’s Canadian Gp winner Daniel Ricciardo described his race as horrible beyond his wildest dreams. And this less than pretty statement was followed with a threat from Renault, via Christian Horner, that they may quit the sport in 2016. Notably Carlos Sainz junior out-performed his highly fancied teammate Max Verstappen.

Contrary to Canadian grand prix history the 2015 edition was a meek outing with little to amp up the excitement factor. There were several overtaking manoeuvres but no close dices for position. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was slapped with a five second penalty for clipping the edge off Will Stevens’ Manor.

Often we get caught up in the chaotic world of Formula 1 to the point where the bigger picture is sometimes overlooked. Yes, Lewis Hamilton is in the most magnificent car built for at least the last decade; but what has been truly impressive is make-up of Hamilton and how he has evolved. The Monaco grand prix debacle was undoubtedly a tough moment but the driver he is now and the temperament he has now allows not for a showy comeback but rather a deafening response which declares that he can surmount whatever obstacle is placed in his way.

About Natalie Le Clue

Natalie Le Clue is an F1 aficionado of the most dedicated vein. And, true to form for any F1-enamoured junkie, she readily admits to crying the first time she saw a F1 car, calling it an ‘overwhelming moment’. Natalie has won the 2010 gSport Woman In Media award, the 2015 Woman In Media Print award, and has been named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in South African Sport by the Department of Sport and Recreation. Natalie is currently serving as SAfm's F1 correspondent. Follow Natalie on Twitter @nlc27

2 Responses to “F1 2015: Canadian GP Review – Mercedes Dominate In Montreal”


  1. […] took a comfortable 1-2 at the Canadian Grand Prix with the nearest rival Valtteri Bottas crossing the line an insane 40 seconds later. The team looks […]

  2. […] The Williams Martini Racing Formula One team is confident that it can close the gap to its Ferrari rivals at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, following its good performance at the Canadian Grand Prix. […]

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