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Canadian GP: Can anyone beat Lewis Hamilton at his most successful F1 venue?

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Canadian GP: Can anyone beat Lewis Hamilton at his most successful F1 venue?
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Jun 7, 2018, 2:42 PM

No-one expected Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to win the Monaco GP this year.

No-one expected Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to win the Monaco GP this year. And he didn’t.

But having left a street track that heavily favoured the well-handling Red Bull RB14, the visit to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve the focus switches towards a driver who has had enormous success on this temporary circuit.

His six wins in Montreal count for almost ten percent of his overall number of victories, and another visit to the top step this weekend will put him level with Michael Schumacher on seven Canadian Grand Prix victories. By contrast, no other driver on the grid has won in Canada more than once.

In the hybrid era, the track has also favoured the Mercedes cars. They've taken all four pole positions and have only been denied all four wins because of brake problems back in 2014.

Despite this, Ferrari have already been ripping up form books courtesy of upturns in their performances at circuits normally earmarked for further Mercedes success. They qualified ahead of, and lead, Mercedes at the Chinese and Azerbaijan Grands Prix before the races went away from them, will they add Montreal to the list of performance hammer blows?

Can Verstappen keep it clean?

Red Bull may be revelling in the success story of Daniel Ricciardo's hard-fought Monaco Grand Prix victory, but deep down they will be feeling that an almost certain one-two result went begging.

Verstappen's crash in free practice three compromised the rest of his weekend and is the latest in a string of errors over the course of this season. It can only be hypothesised how much higher up in the championship he would be without the majority of the errors, but whilst Red Bull are still generally behind Mercedes and Ferrari, he needs to iron out the creases in time for any potential gains in car performance.

In the championship, he's only just ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso and has less than half the points of his team-mate. What can Verstappen do to stop the rot this weekend?

Power units dominate development discussion

At a circuit where any gains in straight-line performance will be noticeable, the majority of power unit manufacturers will be rolling out updated components this weekend.

Renault, Ferrari and Honda are all expected to introduce their second power units of the season in Montreal, with Renault and Honda suggesting that their new units will have noticeable improvements in performance.

On the other hand, Mercedes have delayed the introduction of their second power units due to a "quality control" issue. This means that Mercedes and their customers - Williams and Force India - won't be running with any improved units this weekend, which will probably be a bigger blow to Williams given their problematic chassis this season.

Away form the power unit side, a couple of teams will be bringing aerodynamic and mechanical upgrades to Montreal.

Renault have claimed that they will be bringing updates to Canada and, mostly notably, Haas elected to break the mould by bringing their first big upgrades to Canada, as opposed to Spain like the majority of the grid.

“We’ve got quite significant changes [for Canada] – front wing, floor, and all the bargeboard area – we’ve made those updates," said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

"Obviously, their aim is to go faster, to gain us speed. A lot of people brought their upgrades to Spain. We decided to bring them to Canada to have a little bit more time, because we’re still a small team and cannot react as quickly as the big ones."

The real hypersoft test

The hypersoft tyre made it's race weekend debut in Monaco, but it was partly responsible for what many have claimed to be a conservative race. Given the increased demands on the tyres at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve due to the many acceleration events out of low speed corners- the reduced importance of pole position (only 47% of wins have come from pole) and the reasonably high chance of a safety car - it will be interesting to see whether teams avoid running the hypersofts in Q2 and favour a more flexible race strategy.

All images: Motorsport Images

Who do you think will win the Canadian Grand Prix? Who do you think will be the surprise package? Leave your comments below.
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Luke Murphy