The Mercedes war raged on in Montreal, even if it did end with a whimper. Marussia self-imploded and the gulf at Ferrari grew yet again…let’s go through all the teams and check out the Team Mate Battles for the Canadian Grand Prix.
These are the rules to which the drivers are being judged.
1 point is awarded to the driver who sets the faster lap.
3 points are awarded to the driver who performs best in qualifying.
5 points are awarded to the driver who performs best on raceday.
Transmission problems halted Marcus Ericsson’s progress in FP2, but he halted his own in Q1 when he smashed his Caterham into the wall at Turn 9. Turbo problems before the race even started meant that the safety car on Lap 1 bought the team some time to try fixing the issue, but when it turned out to be a hardware problem (specifically a pipe disconnecting from his turbo), he had to retire. Kamui picked up a grid penalty on Saturday for changing his gearbox, started behind Marcus, got ahead of him on Lap 1, avoided all the debris from the Marussia collision, and promptly retired 20 laps later with suspension failure.
Rumours that Caterham may not even make it to Austria are more than likely slightly exaggerated, but let’s not forget that the team which previously occupied the Caterham factory, Arrows, failed to make it fully through their final season. With Tony Fernandes suspiciously absent from the paddock for most of this season, pre-season warnings that failure to improve would mean a reluctance to continue seem to spell out the end for the team. The final nail in the coffin will have been the fact that Marussia appear to have solidly pulled ahead of them, as well as the points finish in Monte Carlo.
One would hope that the team continues, at least until season end, as it would be practically impossible for any of the employees to find a new home midway through this season. Ericsson hasn’t shown any real reason to be considered for a seat elsewhere for 2015, but Kamui Kobayashi has shown enough to be kept on, should another team want him. Let’s not forget that Kobayashi turned down a solid WEC drive with Ferrari in order to drive for free for a backmarker F1 team, such was his desire to race in this category. Much like Takumo Sato’s career was given a lifeline by the US, maybe Gene Haas could be interested in Kamui?
Fastest lap: Kamui Kobayashi (4-3 to Marcus Ericsson) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Kamui Kobayashi (18-3 to Kamui Kobayashi) (after Round 7)
Race: Kamui Kobayashi (30-5 to Kamui Kobayashi) (after Round 7)
Caterham: 51-12 to Kamui Kobayashi (Total After Round 7)
John Booth said after the race that he had almost been ‘expecting a kick in the nuts’ in Canada after such a great weekend for the squad in Monaco, and a kick in the nuts is what he got. He probably wasn’t expecting it to be self-inflicted though, as the two drivers managed to clash into Turn 3, resulting in a movie spectacular explosion of bodywork and carbon fibre. Both drivers were out on the spot, at a track that is usually quite high in attrition, which could have left them with red faces under different circumstances.
Marussia are in an odd sort of no-mans-land right now, but not necessarily in a bad way. They appear to have finally ended the duel with Caterham that they have been locked in for over three years, by seemingly unlocking more pace than Leafield from their cars. Still slower than Sauber, but clear of Caterham, and with points on the board, Marussia have almost been given carte blanche to use the remaining races as preparation for 2015, with little risk of being beaten by Caterham to tenth spot in the standings.
I mentioned in the Monaco GP TMB articles that Max Chilton’s money may not be required in 2015 due to the extra earnings of this 10th place in the championship, should they finish there, and Max didn’t do himself any favours by taking Jules and himself out of this race. Jules line around the outside of Turn 3 would indeed have hampered him on the exit of Turn 4, but there was nothing particularly unusual about him being in that position during the opening corners of the race, and Max failed to read the situation correctly. In fairness to Chilton, this was a rare lapse, as borne out by the fact that it was his first ever F1 retirement. Max also looked good alongside Bianchi up to that point, quicker in two of the practice sessions, and outqualifying the French driver. Chilton’s 2014 weakness appears to be his starts, and he lost his position again to Jules before hitting him at Turn 3.
Judging which driver drove the best opening 300 metres of the race is easy. Jules got past Max before being hit by him, so race points go to Jules. Due to neither driver completing a lap, they are each awarded 0.5 for fastest lap to keep points equal across all teams.
Fastest lap: 0.5 point to each (5.5 – 1.5 to Max Chilton) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Max Chilton (12-9 to Jules Bianchi) (after Round 7)
Race: Jules Bianchi (20-15 to each) (after Round 7)
Marussia: 33.5 – 29.5 to Jules Bianchi (Total After Round 7)
Neither Williams driver performed badly in Canada, but it was Felipe Massa who was given the opportunity and all the tools required to win the race on Sunday. While Massa’s pace in clear air in the latter .Sp5rl!47rs was more than good enough to catch the train of cars ahead, somehow, it didn’t quite work out. Despite having a Mercedes engine, despite his fresher tyres, despite his DRS, and despite this being the clear opportunity that he needed to win a race for the first time since the heart-breaking 2008 Brazilian race, Massa failed to overtake a single one of the four cars required to win the race. Not only did he fail to do so, but on the one occasion where he got alongside one, they both ended up in the wall.
Entering the braking zone for Turn 1, would Felipe have been expecting the slight jink to the left that Perez employed as a last minute defence? Probably not, but as he was yet to draw even alongside the Force India, maybe leaving a slight bit more room between their cars would have been the wiser option. Massa blamed a slow second stop as the reason he lost the race, which doesn’t make sense. Felipe’s final stop on Lap 48 was 24.0 seconds in duration, while the fastest stop of the race was a 23.2. As Massa emerged behind the train of Rosberg-Vettel by more than 0.8 seconds, he still would have had to overtake all four cars to win, something he didn’t do, despite being the ‘fastest man on track’.
Bottas, who started ahead of Felipe, and stayed ahead for the first half of the race, felt his second stop was too early, as he emerged in traffic and began to overheat. As Rob Smedley reported in his lambasting of Perez’s efforts, the team told the Finn to back off and save his engine and brakes and he brought it home a safe, if unspectacular, 7th place. Had the Williams roles been reversed, would Bottas have brought home a better result?
Addendum: I have had it pointed out to me that it was actually Felipe’s first stop that was slower, not his second. My mistake, and that makes far more sense as his first stop was three seconds slower.
Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa (5-2 to Felipe Massa) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Valtteri Bottas (12-9 to Valtteri Bottas) (after Round 7)
Race: Valtteri Bottas (30-5 to Valtteri Bottas) (after Round 7)
Williams: 44-19 to Valtteri Bottas (Total After Round 7)
Vergne continued where he left off in Monaco, producing another eye-catching performance in his STR. While Kyvat’s pace seemed to be as close to Vergne as ever, Jean-Eric planted his Toro Rosso on 8th place on the grid and then managed to jump Fernando Alonso off the line. Having had the legs on JEV through FP3 & Q1, Daniil encountered some mystery brake problems in Q2 and could only manage 15th, and fell down to 16th place on Lap 1.
Vergne employed a two stop strategy on his way to 8th place in the race, having been as high as 5th place at one point. Kyvat spun off at Turn 1 on Lap 10, and while he recovered to only run 3 seconds behind Vergne after their initial stops, Jean-Eric had pulled out a 13 second lead by the time Daniil stopped at the hairpin with a transmission issue.
Much improved performances from Jean-Eric in the last few races, and while he congratulated Daniel Ricciardo on his maiden win in his post-race press release, the Frenchman must be rather galled at the fact that he ran Ricciardo quite close during their time together at STR, and while Daniel is on top of the world right now, Vergne is fighting to be retained in the sport for 2015.
Fastest Lap: Jean-Eric Vergne (4-3 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Jean-Eric Vergne (15-6 to Jean-Eric Vergne) (after Round 7)
Race: Jean-Eric Vergne (20-15 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 7)
Toro Rosso: 33-30 to Jean-Eric Vergne (Total After Round 7) (JEV takes lead for the first time)
Sauber had another weekend of insipid mediocrity, as they struggle to unlock some pace from their C33. Gutierrez stuffed his in the wall in FP3 and couldn’t take part in qualifying. Sutil made it into Q2, but was rather scathing of the performance saying ‘it hasn’t improved, the car is really difficult to drive’.
Sauber got clever with Esteban at the start of the race, pitting him at the end of the first lap to take on the supersoft tyre, and then again at the end of the second lap to run the soft tyre, taking advantage of the safety car. As a result, Esteban ran longer in his first stint than Adrian and emerged ahead after they had both stopped. Adrian quickly caught back up and passed the Mexican on Lap 27, and stayed ahead through the second round of stops, but Gutierrez passed him again on Lap 57 before retiring with an ERS issue.
As exciting as it sounds, it really wasn’t. Slower than the sole Lotus of Grosjean, and with no Marussias in the race, the Sauber boys had noone to play with except themselves, and that’s exactly what they did.
Fastest Lap: Esteban Gutierrez (7-0 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Adrian Sutil (12-9 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 7)
Race: Esteban Gutierrez (25-10 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 7)
Sauber: 44-19 to Esteban Gutierrez (Total After Round 7)
Those of us old enough to remember the origins of Force India, the Jordan squad, will also remember the brake failure that Heinz Harald Frentzen in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs of the 99 race in Montreal. With three laps to go, Frentzen’s Jordan shattered its brake disc into Turn 3, and the German driver was hurled into the barriers at around 130mph, suffering a lateral impact of over 7G. Unable to climb out of the car unaided, Frentzen was sore for over two weeks, and was still in pain at the 99 French GP which he won.
So was Rob Smedley right to criticize Force India for keeping Perez out with a car that had fading brakes, as evidenced by the Mexican’s complaints over the radio? Much like Raikkonen’s decision to press ahead at Nurburgring 05 with a car that was on the verge of being undriveable, Perez was evidently comfortable enough with his car to press on in his bid for the podium, and that’s all that counts. Where it all went wrong was in his slight fade to the left before the braking zone into Turn 1, not realising that Massa hadn’t factored in a possible defensive move, and ended in carnage.
Neither driver was faultless in the collision, with Perez being the bigger sinner on this occasion, but that shouldn’t take away from what had been a great drive up to that point. It had been advantage Nico Hulkenberg for the entire weekend, as the Hulk was quicker in every practice session, as well as outqualifying Perez, but Sergio managed to sneak ahead of Nico on the opening lap, and held the high ground throughout the race, including through the team’s one and only tyre stops. Nico ran longer on his opening stint after catching Sergio slightly as the Mexican approached his stop, but emerged further behind. The furthest Hulkenberg ever fell behind Sergio was only 8 seconds, and due to the fact that he wasn’t partially responsible for ending his own race, race points go to Nico.
Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (5-2 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Nico Hulkenberg (15-6 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 7)
Race: Nico Hulkenberg (25-10 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 7)
Force India: 45-18 to Nico Hulkenberg (Total After Round 7)
Sahara Force India Formula One Team
Jenson Button started the second last racing lap of the Canadian race in 8th position, and finished the final lap in 4th place. While not quite as attention grabbing as his 21st-to-1st run in the second half of the 2011 race, this was a great opportunistic drive from Jenson. Having got the better of Kevin Magnussen in qualifying by placing 9th to the Dane’s 12th place, Kevin admitted that the difference was due to ‘Jenson getting the max out of the car’, as opposed to any issue hindering himself.
Jenson lost a position to Raikkonen at the start of the race, while Kevin dropped down to 13th, but the McLarens fought back strongly as the race developed. The race pace of the pair was quite similar, with Jenson only enjoying a six second gap over Kevin as they began to make their second stops, but with Magnussen getting caught behind Vergne after his final stop, Jenson began to stretch out that advantage. As the race entered the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, Button ran 9th, Vergne 10th, Magnussen 11th, before Jenson managed to clear the struggling Bottas. Sneaking past Alonso & Hulkenberg when Fernando ran wide at the hairpin was a great opportunistic move, before Jenson gained another two places when Massa & Perez collided. Magnussen never got past Vergne, who also never got past Bottas, meaning Kevin finished in 9th.
It would have been very interesting to see what would have happened if the McLaren drivers roles had been the opposite in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs…would Button have been able to clear Jean-Eric Vergne, or would Kevin Magnussen have jumped on Alonso’s mistake at the hairpin? Kevin is quite closely matched with Jenson at this point, and while Button unquestionably holds the edge, should the performance gap be bigger, considering Jenson is a seasoned World Champion and Kevin only in his 7th ever race?
Fastest Lap: Jenson Button (5-2 to Kevin Magnussen) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Jenson Button (12-9 to Jenson Button) (after Round 7)
Race: Jenson Button (30-5 to Jenson Button) (after Round 7)
McLaren: 43-20 to Jenson Button (Total After Round 7)
While both Lotuses retired from the race, it was Pastor Maldonado who missed out on a potential points finish. The Venezuelan was running a one stop strategy and was running ahead of Vergne & Magnussen on Lap 21 when his engine developed a problem and was forced to retire. As Pastor himself said after the race ‘to be honest, I was quite surprised by the car’, due to the pace that he had been able to find over the opening quarter of the race.
Romain had held the advantage through the practice sessions, continuing into qualifying when he took 14th spot, while Pastor couldn’t clear Q1. Grosjean lost a position at the start of the race, falling to 15th, while Pastor held position in 17th and was only two seconds behind Romain when the French driver pitted at the end of Lap 10. Climbing up to 8th place as other drivers pitted, Pastor was running ahead of Fernando Alonso and Jean-Eric Vergne when his engine gave up.
Romain, who had already pitted at this point, was not quicker than Pastor despite his fresher tyres, and had fallen to over a minute behind the race leader by the halfway point of the race. Romain said after the race that ‘it wasn’t a great day in terms of pace’, and it got worse for him on Lap 59 when his rear wing suffered a structural failure. Race points to Pastor for the first time this year.
Fastest Lap: Romain Grosjean (6-1 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Romain Grosjean (21-0 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 7)
Race: Pastor Malonado (30-5 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 7)
Lotus: 57-6 to Romain Grosjean (Total After Round 7)
Having looked comparatively good alongside Alonso in Spain & Monaco, Raikkonen was back to looking like the unsettled rookie that he played so well in the season’s opening races. While there is nothing unexpected about Alonso having the upper hand throughout the first half of the season, the gap between the pair has been wildly inconsistent, much like the self-reported performance of Kimi’s F14 T. An odd spin in practice, as well as the Finn visibly struggling on both entry and exit of the hairpin, showed that the problem is not Kimi’s driving per se, but an inability to get on top of the issues he is experiencing with using the new energy recovery systems, as well as controlling the torque curve of the Ferrari power unit.
That torque curve is slowly fizzling out the career of Raikkonen, which is sad to see. After many years of spectacular McLaren and Lotus performances, the partnership of Kimi and Ferrari is failing to fully gel yet again, and unless he can turn things around very quickly, it is unlikely that Raikkonen will remain in a top seat beyond his current contract.
No such issues for Alonso, as he once again appeared to make the best of the truculent Pracing Horse. While the Finn was usually only around 0.1 seconds slower throughout practice, Q1 & Q2, Alonso’s extra run in Q3 allowed him to set a time 0.4 seconds faster and start from 7th place. Unusually, Alonso lost a position at the start, losing out to Jean-Eric Vergne, while Raikkonen jumped up to 9th place. While Raikkonen never got a look in at getting ahead of Fernando, the race pace of the respective drivers was similar to a large extent. Raikkonen’s first stop cost him track position compared to Alonso, and then spent several laps stuck behind Toro Rossos before he spun again at the hairpin. As Raikkonen himself said afterwards, nothing is falling right for him at the moment, but not all of it can be blamed on external factors.
Alonso himself threw away what could have a fourth place finish in a last lap desperate dive up the inside of Nico Hulkenberg at the hairpin. While both avoided contact, Alonso ran far too deep into the corner, and this allowed Button to get the inside line and set up the pass on Hulkenberg to take 4th place. A pass that Alonso himself probably should have made. The lunge that Alonso made on Hulk was oddly similar to the one Kimi made on Magnussen at Monaco, just there was far more room to extricate himself from the situation. Another TMB win for Fernando.
Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen (4-3 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Fernando Alonso (15-6 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 7)
Race: Fernando Alonso (35-0 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 7)
Ferrari: 54-9 to Fernando Alonso (Total After Round 7)
There really is very little to differentiate between the performances of the two Mercedes drivers in Canada. The pair were superb in Montreal, the tiny margins that separated the two a testament to the fact that they are extracting the maximum from the performance permitted at any particular moment in their W05s.
As the weekend progressed, it appeared that Lewis Hamilton had the edge over Nico. Nothing particularly unusual, as Montreal is a circuit that Lewis has always done very well at, so it is a little surprising that Rosberg responded so well in Q3 to snatch pole position. From being 0.7 seconds down in Q1, Rosberg’s initial effort in Q3 was good enough to increase the pressure on Lewis for the second runs, and despite Hamilton going quicker than Nico’s benchmark, Nico himself improved enough on his second go to take top spot. While obviously important, the Montreal pole is not as critical as the Monaco equivalent, and there was still a lot of work for race day.
Rosberg’s slighty hesitant start allowed Hamilton a shot at getting past, and despite a fairly rambunctious defence against Lewis to keep his lead into Turn 2, there were no complaints from Hamilton. Probably due to the fact that Lewis would have done the exact same thing had the shoe been on the other foot. Losing P2 to Vettel somehow didn’t seem that important, due to the Red Bull’s lethargic straight line ability, which was borne out when Lewis breezed past. The next 18 laps were a breath taking display of speed from the two Mercs as they stretched their legs and Hamilton piled the pressure on, before falling slightly back towards the end of the stint. Donning the soft tyres for their second stints, Lewis seemed to have more inherent pace as he attacked Nico with gusto. The pressure evidently told, as Nico took to the escape route at the final corner…more on that in a moment.
Nico’s tardy second stop, coupled with his smaller than desired advantage over Lewis, resulted in Hamilton finally getting ahead on Lap 45, before his brakes almost immediately failed. While both cars had suffered the same MGU-K failures, it was Lewis’s car that failed, due to running in hot air all the time. According to Toto Wolff, it was ‘pure luck’ that the same didn’t happen to Nico, but instead, Rosberg continued and adapted to the new driving conditions and almost won the race despite his wounded car. Running in hot air has never been good for a Formula One car, and regardless of Merc’s perceived reliability so far this season, 44 laps stuck behind another car on an already hot day on a circuit renowned for being a brake killer wasn’t a great tactic.
Rosberg’s cutting of the chicane on Lap 25 in his efforts to stay ahead almost won him the race. His net gain of 0.8 seconds by keeping the boot in as he flew through the escape area almost certainly kept him ahead of Lewis, as Nico pulled out of the DRS range temporarily, but also possibly was what kept him out of DRS range of Perez later in the race, which could have resulted in far more cars passing Nico than just Daniel Ricciardo. A penalty may have been a bit harsh, but wouldn’t have been undeserved either. Surprising that he wasn’t given a five second penalty, if anything just to make an example of him, which could have completely changed the nature of the race. Split points to the Merc boys for race day, as there are valid arguments for both drivers.
Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (4-3 to Nico Rosberg) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Nico Rosberg (12-9 to Lewis Hamilton) (after Round 7)
Race: Split points 2.5 each. (22.5 – 12.5 to Lewis Hamilton) (after Round 7)
Mercedes: 36.5 – 26.5 to Lewis Hamilton (Total After Round 7)
Canada 2014 could have, and probably should have, been another victory for Vettel, and not the maiden triumph of the new thorn in the German Champion’s side. Having outqualified Ricciardo on Saturday, Vettel made the most of Hamilton getting wrong-footed by Nico Rosberg into Turn 1 to sweep past the Mercedes driver. There was a sense of inevitability about Hamilton getting back past once the safety car withdrew, and that was borne out when Lewis easily swept past him again on Lap 10.
The race pace of the Red Bull drivers was virtually identical through the opening phase, Vettel opening up and maintaining a four second gap back to his team-mate, extending it to seven after their first pitstops. Unfortunately for Vettel, this was the stop that allowed the one stopping Force Indias in front of him, and this meant Seb was left staring at the back of Hulkenberg for the next twenty laps. Despite his best efforts, the straight line advantage of the Merc powered FIs meant Vettel was held back and this allowed Daniel Ricciardo to close back up on the sister Red Bull.
Seb was the first to blink for the second stop, and made a 23.3 second long pitstop, while Ricciardo stopped the following lap, stationery for 23.2 seconds. Crucially, Daniel’s inlap was a second quicker than Vettel’s, and coupled with a 1.22 outlap, Vettel was doomed to be behind Ricciardo once the stops cycled out. Of course, this only meant the pair were inseparable on track as they closed in on the struggling Sergio Perez, and while Massa quickly caught them, Vettel positioned his car perfectly to prevent the Williams driver getting a look in at either of the Bulls. Ricciardo made full use of both DRS straights to eventually sneak around the outside of Perez into Turn 1, and held his exit together by practically stopping on the exit of Turn 2 to regain full control and composure after running onto the grass. Ricciardo then quickly caught and passed Rosberg, just before the race was called under safety car control, which could have prevented the Australian from taking the win had he failed to make the move stick initially.
Daniel unquestionably deserved the win in Canada, but did he truly outperform Sebastian Vettel? Probably not is the answer, but he did make the most of the circumstances that were placed in front of him. As I’ve said before, Ricciardo’s results are not an indication of Vettel only being as good as the ‘new’ boy, but an indication of just how good Daniel Ricciardo really is. Had Vettel’s outlap been a 1.21, and not a 1.22, then it probably would have been Vettel’s first win of 2014, and that will show the German just how inch perfect he has to be to beat Daniel.
Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo (5-2 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 7)
Qualifying: Sebastian Vettel (12-9 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 7)
Race: Daniel Ricciardo (30-5 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 7)
Red Bull: 47-16 to Daniel Ricciardo (Total After Round 7)
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- Team Mate Battles – Monaco GP
- Team Mate Battles – Spanish GP
- Team Mate Battles – Chinese GP
- Team Mate Battles – Bahrain GP
- Team Mate Battles – Malaysian GP
- Team Mate Battles – Australian GP