Formula 1 heads to North America for the first time in 2015 this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix at a pivotal point in the championship fight.
Nico Rosberg arrives in Montreal as the in-form driver after winning back-to-back races for the first time in his F1 career, even if his victory in Monaco two weeks ago was somewhat fortuitous.
His Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton still leads the drivers’ championship by ten points, but knows that he would be enjoying a 24-point lead had the strategic mistakes in Monaco not been made.
Nevertheless, the Briton has a soft spot for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as it was the site of his first grand prix victory back in 2007 with McLaren. Since then, he has won a further two times and has never finished off the podium when he has made it to the checkered flag.
The intra-team fight at Mercedes is just one of many storylines that will define this weekend’s race.
2015 Canadian Grand Prix – Talking Points
After seeing a near-certain win in Monaco pass him by, Lewis Hamilton will be keen to fight back this weekend with a victory in his beloved Canada. Although he may claim that the race in the principality is behind him, it is likely that some elements of the defeat will still be playing on his mind. With a 60% chance of a safety car at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, if Mercedes were to make a snap call and tell Hamilton to pit, will he think twice? Then again, will Mercedes also think twice about any decisions Lewis may want to make? Time will tell.
Having spent some of its engine ‘tokens’ for this weekend’s race in Canada, Ferrari could well be able to take a step towards Mercedes and perhaps challenge for a second win of the season. Sebastian Vettel arrives in Montreal off the back of a surprising second-place finish in Monaco, whilst Kimi Raikkonen is focusing on an improved qualifying display after struggling last time out. The power advantage may lie with Mercedes, but if Ferrari can make a step forwards, the Italian team could yet be in the mix this weekend.
Slim hopes for another Montreal miracle at Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo’s victory in Canada last year came as something of a shock given Red Bull’s struggles at the start of 2014, but hopes of a repeat in 2015 are very slim indeed. The affable Australian’s victory came about last year thanks to Mercedes’ reliability woes, but this time around, if a repeat were to occur, it is likely that Ferrari and Williams would be the teams to pick up the pieces and claim a win. Red Bull is certainly improving, but with Renault admitting its engines will struggle in Montreal, this could be a weekend to forget for the team.
Verstappen gets back in the saddle
After suffering a huge shunt towards the end of the Monaco Grand Prix, Max Verstappen will return to his car this weekend with another lesson learned in his rookie F1 season. The 17-year-old has remained bullish about the incident, brushing off any criticism that has been pointed his way. He even suggested that Felipe Massa, one of his critics, should think about his own accident in Canada last year instead of pointing the finger. With youth comes bravado, of course…
Good timing, eh
The Canadian Grand Prix is a favorite for many of the drivers and teams within F1. Montreal as a city wholly embraces the race and gives it a great party vibe. However, perhaps the most positive aspect of it among our readers is the timings. After a string of early starts for races in China, Spain and Monaco, the Canadian Grand Prix is held entirely on ET, making it far friendlier for those in the USA to watch.
Timings aside, the action provided in Montreal is always entertaining. It’s very rare for there to be a ‘boring’ Canadian Grand Prix, and the 2015 edition should be no different.
2015 Canadian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures
Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Lap Record: Rubens Barrichello 1:13.622 (Ferrari, 2004)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2014 Winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:14.874
2014 Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:18.504
DRS Zones: Casino Straight (T11 to T12); Main Straight (T13 to T1)
2015 Canadian Grand Prix – TV Times
Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 10am ET 6/5
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 2pm ET 6/5
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 10am ET 6/6
Qualifying: NBCSN 1pm ET 6/6
Race: NBC 2pm ET 6/7 (F1 Countdown on NBCSN from 1:30pm ET)