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Rosberg’s Gap Down to Nine as Hamilton Wins

2016 Canada Lewis Win

Nico Rosberg has seen his championship lead cut to just nine points as Lewis Hamilton claimed victory at the Canadian GP in Montréal. Hamilton finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Max Verstappen bounced back from a disappointing Monaco showing to finish 4th ahead of championship leader Rosberg. Kimi Raikkonen’s recent poor form continued as he finished in 6th. Daniel Ricciardo’s scrappy race saw him finish 7th ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez.

Hamilton’s victory was not as straight forward as he would have hoped as Vettel, who was on a different strategy to Hamilton, pushed him hard throughout. Vettel got off to a dream start as he came from 3rd to lead into the first corner. Behind Vettel, the two Mercedes had another coming together, although not as severe as the one in Spain. It did however see Rosberg having to run wide at turn 2 and drop to 10th. Rosberg was on a recovery drive from lap 1 and seemed to have the same tyre issues that cost him dearly in Monaco. He did not surge back through the pack like many would have expected. He did what he could and so easily could have finished 3rd. As he was chasing Bottas for the final podium place he peeled off into the pits after a slow puncture was discovered by the team. Rosberg recovered again and was hunting down Verstappen for 4th and made his move on the penultimate lap when he went up the inside of the young Dutchman at the final chicane. Unfortunately for Rosberg, he lost the back end of his Mercedes under braking and spun off into the run off area. He was fortunate not to hit anything and held off Raikkonen’s challenge on the final lap to secure 5th but it could have been more for Rosberg.

After his scintillating start, Vettel led the opening stint of the race and was locked into a two-stop strategy after Ferrari opted to stop him under the virtual safety car that was caused by the retiring Jenson Button on lap 12. With Vettel pitting, Hamilton was able to use his one-stop strategy to his advantage. Vettel re-took the lead whilst Hamilton made his one and only stop but conceded the lead after making his second stop. Vettel looked as though he was pulling Hamilton in as the laps tumbled but, another uncharacteristic mistake by Vettel saw him run wide as the final chicane and all but gift Hamilton his 45th victory in Formula One.

2016 Canada Rosberg

The main talking point from the race was surely Rosberg’s championship lead eroding so dramatically over the past two races. Three weeks ago, Rosberg looked to be in total control of the championship having won four of the first five races. By the time the European GP in Azerbaijan is complete in just 7 days, Hamilton could have toppled Rosberg for the championship lead. Rosberg needs a strong showing at the European GP but possibly more importantly, the team need to work out their start procedure. In Canada, we saw a carbon copy of Australia where the Mercedes pair where almost at a standstill as Vettel left them for dust. If Ferrari keep improving their engine performance at the rate they are now, and are able to jump the Mercedes at the start, Mercedes will have a real fight on their hands.

 

Who is Making the Ferrari Pit Calls?

2016 Canada Lewis Vettel

Something does not seem right at Ferrari this season. After the Canadian GP, Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said that the team overestimated the tyre degradation, naming this the reason that the team opted to pit Vettel under the virtual safety car.

I bring this up because this is not the first time this season that the Ferrari team have made a call on strategy which has resulted in them throwing away a victory. In Australia, the decision not to run the medium tyre due to their lack of knowledge handed victory to Nico Rosberg who ran the medium tyre. Possible errors in Spain meant that with no Mercedes on track, Ferrari let another possible victory slip through their fingers, handing it to Max Verstappen. The latest episode has now occurred in Canada. Vettel did what he had to on the track but I believe that the team have been letting him down from the pit wall. Vettel could have easily had two victories this season, but strategy calls have cost him. Even after his second stop in Canada, Vettel closed to within 4.3 seconds of Hamilton and closing still until his error completely binned his chances of victory. It is an area that needs to be improved before big pressure arrives from the top of the Ferrari company.

Who Will be at Williams Next Season?

2016 Canada Jenson

Although it is still early in the season, it doesn’t mean that the rumours about the 2017 driver line up can’t begin. Over the Canadian GP weekend, it was the Williams team driver line up that had the rumour mill buzzing. Rumours that Jenson Button will leave McLaren and return to the team that gave him his debut back in 2000 were all over the press. Neither party were quick to play down the reports but stopped short of saying something was in place. Ron Dennis has made no secret of his desire to have Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren car in the not so distant future and a move to Williams may suit both parties. So who would partner him? Rumours going round claim that this will be Felipe Massa last at the team and would probably mean his last in the sport. With Max Verstappen being tied down at Red Bull now, it may be possible that Ferrari would turn their attention to Bottas to replace Raikkonen who, after a promising start to the season has went on a downward spiral. However others such as the Force India pair of Hulkenberg and Perez, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and even Haas’ Romain Grosjean would believe they should be looked at as well. At the moment, it looks like Williams hold the key to the driver market for the 2017 season, although it is very early days.

Report courtesy of Simon Gray

Read more on Simon’s blog here

 
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