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F1 2017: Canadian Gp Preview – Can Mercedes Stem Ferrari Momentum

Canadian Grand Prix Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Formula 1 swops Monaco for Montreal as it heads to the seventh round of the season around Canada’s Gilles Villeneuve circuit.

The flowing circuit set in the heart of the St. Lawrence Seaway has become a classic on the F1 calendar, which often turns up unpredictable races. Although it’s one of the shorter circuits it’s flowing nature allows for close racing and, though limited, some chances for overtaking. While the average lap speed is significantly higher than at the last round in Monaco the close proximity of the walls and barriers create the impression of a street circuit. The demand on brakes is some of the highest experienced in the entire season.

For the first time in more than a decade the ardent Canadian fans will have a local driver in the mix. Williams’ Lance Stroll will be the first Canadian to race on home soil since Jacques Villeneuve’s retirement in 2006. So far, Stroll’s journey into F1 hasn’t been an easy one with several retirements and a couple of mistakes making for a brutal introduction to the sport. Nevertheless, if the Montreal native is going to step up anywhere this would be the best place to do so.

GP CANADA F1/2016In 2016 the Canadian grand prix was well within Sebastian Vettel’s grasp but it slipped through Ferrari’s fingers as they called an ill-advised strategy, which cost them victory. While the German comfortably held of second-placed Hamilton the Ferrari pitwall decided to opt for two-stop strategy while Mercedes ran a one-stop race, which ultimately resulted in the top step of the podium for Hamilton.

The picture in 2017 looks far different than twelve months ago. This weekend Vettel arrives in Canada with a healthy lead in the championship and with a car quick enough to challenge for victory. However, there is a suspected reliability issue with the turbo unit on Vettel’s Ferrari. If the unit has to be replaced it could mean a five place grid penalty for the championship leader.

But while it remains only a threat without official confirmation of a penalty Ferrari will be feeling confident ahead of the weekend. The efficiency of their aerodynamic package in 2017 has proven to the class of the field and should come into its own around the circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The most significant area in which Ferrari hold an advantage is its relatively big set-up window. The coveted sweet spot of balance between both axles of the car seem easier to come by for Ferrari than its championship rivals Mercedes. It is this specific factor that is Ferrari’s biggest advantage in 2017.

Salut-GillesFurther to Ferrari’s advantage is the combination of ultra- and supersoft tyre compounds nominated by Pirelli for this grand prix weekend. The Ferrari’s liking of the ultrasoft tyre stems from its ability to bring the compound into its optimal working range quicker than Mercedes as was seen in Monaco and Russia. Still, Merc is far from out of the equation. The naturally cooler temperatures often experienced over the Canadian race weekend will be to the advantage of Mercedes as it decreases the operating temperature window of the tyre.

The Canadian Gp weekend is an interesting one for Mercedes as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have shone, to varying degrees, on this circuit. While Ferrari has shown no qualms in advancing the interests of Vettel, as the championship leader, it begs the question as to what call Mercedes will make should Bottas be in front of Hamilton.

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

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