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.