MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Canadian GP

Leave a comment

Formula 1 makes its first visit to North America this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix. After yet another Hamilton-Rosberg face-off in Monaco, the embers in the Mercedes fire appear to have cooled slightly, and relations between the two have improved. Of course, we will see on track just whether any love has been lost between our championship protagonists.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve should see the Mercedes-powered cars dominate thanks to the long straights, requiring a good top speed. Renault claims to have made a step forwards, but Red Bull might be left scrapping with Force India and Williams this weekend. Can our writing experts make some sense of it all?

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Are you a Team Nico or Team Lewis? This weekend you want to be the latter. Montreal has traditionally been a Hamilton stronghold, so expect him to win out this weekend ahead of his teammate.

Surprising finish: Nico Hulkenberg. This circuit should allow the Mercedes-powered cars to excel and flourish, so Force India could be in line to challenge for a podium finish. This weekend could bring the Hulk’s first – and frankly overdue – podium finish.

Most to prove: Sauber. I write the same thing about Sauber for every single race – must improve! The car isn’t great, but now that the team has slipped behind Marussa in the constructors’ championship, the pressure will truly be on the Swiss team.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. A track where he’s been dynamic in the past and with the motivation of wanting to avenge the loss in Monaco, I’ll say Hamilton takes it this weekend.

Surprising finish: Nico Hulkenberg. Hard to call much this kid does a “surprise” anymore but I feel that elusive first podium for him is achievable this weekend. If not, another “only” top-five will suffice.

Most to prove: Sauber. There’s not really an obvious “most to prove” candidate this weekend but given it’s now behind Marussia in the Constructor’s Championship and hasn’t shown any semblance of points-scoring potential, hopefully the Swiss squad can be something other than neutral this weekend.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. With Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s long straights providing ample opportunity for the Mercedes engine to show its stuff, it’ll be down to Hamilton and Rosberg for the win again. Hamilton’s won three times in Montreal, while Rosberg has never cracked the podium there. I gotta go with the Brit.

Surprising finish: Valtteri Bottas. Outside of Mercedes, it’s a tight battle among multiple squads for “best of the rest.” But after a disappointing power unit failure in Monaco, I figure that Bottas will be raring to go for Williams. He could be a contender for the last spot on the podium.

Most to prove: Sebastian Vettel. After delivering a stellar drive in Spain, a gearbox problem in Monaco handed the four-time defending World Champion his second DNF of the season. With engine supplier Renault saying Canada is their first real chance to properly stack up against the competition, Vettel needs to come through as he did in Barcelona.

Jerry Bonkowski (@JerryBonkowski)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. It’s time for Rosberg to try and put more room between himself and fellow Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. Thus far, this has been a classic matchup and done wonders for the overall team. But as each race goes by from this point on, it’s going to be every man for himself.

Surprising finish: Daniel Ricciardo. On paper, Ricciardo has been having an excellent season, ranked fourth after the first six races of the 19-race F1 schedule. But at the same time, Ricciardo is a distant fourth in terms of points behind Rosberg and Hamilton. Ricciardo needs to start picking up more points from here on out if he hopes to catch one or both of the Mercedes drivers.

Most to prove: Pastor Maldonado (and friends). Yes, Maldonado is ranked last in the points, joining five other drivers (Marcus Ericsson, Adrian Stuil, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton and Kamui Kobayashi) who also have not earned any points thus far this season. But somewhere along the way, Maldonado and his fellow points-less drivers need to add some to their woeful earnings to date.

Ricciardo confident Red Bull hasn’t missed last F1 win chance in 2017

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Red Bull Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo is confident the team has not missed its last chance to win a race in 2017 after losing out to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in Singapore.

Red Bull ran strongly throughout the Singapore race weekend, with Ricciardo boldly stating the team would win after qualifying third for the race.

A wet-dry affair marred by a start-line crash allowed Hamilton to sweep from fifth to first, while Ricciardo was left to settle for P2 for the third straight year in Singapore.

With none of the remaining circuits appearing to suit Red Bull’s RB13 car as well as Singapore, Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to share the spoils through the final six races of the year.

However, Ricciardo is sure that Red Bull will get another opportunity to add to its surprise victory in Baku earlier this season, which came about in surprising circumstances.

“Malaysia, obviously there were a few incidents last year but I think our general pace wasn’t too bad so we might be stronger than we think there,” Ricciardo said, looking ahead to next weekend’s race in Kuala Lumpur.

“Malaysia, Japan and then we’ll see. I think we can be podium cars, probably Malaysia, Japan, Austin.

“We might need some alternate conditions to really give us raw pace to fight for a win.

“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re not going to win one.

“I believe we’ll get at least one chance somewhere.”

F1 teams allowed to use current-year cars for demos from 2018

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Formula 1 teams will be allowed to use their latest-spec cars at demonstrations organized by the sport from 2018, the FIA has confirmed.

F1 hit the streets of London, England ahead of the British Grand Prix in July for a live demonstration that attracted a crowd of over 100,000 fans.

Due to restrictions on the use of current cars outside of official testing and grand prix weekends, all teams were required to appear with older chassis models in London, most coming from 2015, the most recent year allowed to be used freely.

The restrictions meant that Haas, which only became an F1 team in 2016, could not field a car at all in London.

As part of the updated sporting regulations approved by the World Motor Sport Council and issued by the FIA earlier this week, a rule tweak was confirmed to let teams use their current-year cars at “demonstration events organized by the Commercial Rights Holder”.

Teams are still allowed to complete two filming day events with their current cars, with the majority opting to use one prior to pre-season testing to act as a shakedown of their new models.

While no further demonstrations such as the one in London have been confirmed by F1 yet, they are understood to be in the works after the success the July event enjoyed.

Vinales takes Aragon MotoGP pole, Rossi P3 on return

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maverick Viñales will start Sunday’s MotoGP race at Motorland Aragon from pole position after topping qualifying for Yamaha as teammate Valentino Rossi made a stunning return from injury.

Having broken his leg during a training accident at the end of last month, Rossi was cleared to race this weekend by MotoGP’s medical officials on Thursday, with the nine-time world champion gingerly returning to action in practice.

Rossi battled through to Q2 by finishing final practice 10th-quickest, before then producing a rapid final lap in the session to secure third place on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Teammate Viñales bagged his fifth pole of the season with a best lap of 1:47.635, lapping one-tenth of a second quicker than Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi was a further 0.08 seconds behind in P3.

Cal Crutchlow took fourth for LCR Honda ahead of Marc Marquez, who fell ahead of his final run and was unable to improve his initial lap time in Q2.

Marquez’s chief title rival Andrea Dovizioso will start seventh behind Dani Pedrosa, while Aleix Espargaro, Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Iannone completed the top 10 in qualifying.

McLaren ‘a little behind’ on 2018 F1 car plans after delayed engine call

Getty Images
Leave a comment

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has conceded the team is “a little behind” in developing its Formula 1 car for next year after only finalizing its 2018 engine plans last week.

McLaren saw its long-running engine saga end in Singapore when it agreed a deal to end its current Honda supply and link up with Renault from the start of next season.

The move is expected to give McLaren a lift in performance and allow it to fight further up the field, but the delay in being finalized has put the team slightly behind schedule in developing its new car.

“We are flat out working on the 2018 car. There are a lot of changes in terms of layout of the engine, so we have to redesign some of the parts we already had in our mind,” Bouller told the official F1 website.

“We are a little behind in terms of decision. I would have loved this decision to have been made a couple of weeks ago.”

McLaren will no longer enjoy exclusive works status in 2018 as it has done with Honda, with Renault also supplying engines to Red Bull and its own factory team.

Boullier remains confident of a strong partnership between McLaren and Renault, though, and is sure it is the best path for the future.

“We are ‘privileged customers’ with Renault. We have the same engine and access to information as Enstone or Red Bull Racing, so this is a real partnership with Renault,” Boullier said.

“We also have the possibility to work with them – to put ideas in the box for the future that might be taken into consideration. That will allow us to influence in the future. But yes, a full works team is different from our situation in 2018.

“But it is like in school: you look at the plusses and the minuses, and looking at all the plusses and minuses we made our decision, which we believe will be the best one for McLaren for at least the next three years.”