Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monaco, 2018

Who’s leading F1’s power race? Five Canadian GP talking points

2018 Canadian Grand Prix

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In Baku Ferrari seemed to have closed the gap to Mercedes in terms of power unit performance. Since then the FIA has been taking a closer look at how its hybrid system works, and this weekend the engine manufacturers are expected to bring a raft of upgrades.

Who’s leading Formula 1’s power race? This weekend’s grand prix should provide some clues about that and a few other major talking points.

Power games

While Spain is traditionally the round at which teams introduce their chassis upgrades, Canada has become the race where the new power units appear. There are two obvious reasons to introduce an upgrade at this point: the long straights of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve reward extra power, and it marks the one-third point in the championship in which drivers are allowed just three power units without penalty.

Indeed they are only allowed two examples of some components, which is why Daniel Ricciardo knows he will take at least a 10-place grid penalty this weekend when he takes an upgraded (TAG Heuer-badged) Renault. Some drivers, notably the Ferrari customers, already ran their new units in practice at the previous round to test them out.

Mercedes will have new power units for all its drivers. And the Toro Rosso pair will get new Hondas – a development its sister team will watch closely as it weighs up whether to switch suppliers for the 2019 F1 season.

Verstappen needs a clean weekend

For Max Verstappen, Monaco was another race weekend shaped by an unforced error. His team mate’s success, and emergence as a genuine championship contender, made for a tough comparison.

Verstappen desperately needs to draw a line under his messy start to the season. Last year he was in stunning form at this track, working his way up to second in the opening stages before a power unit problem put him out. Can Verstappen finally keep out of trouble and deliver a strong result in Canada?

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Stroll’s struggles

Twelve months ago Lance Stroll made a joyous home debut by scoring the first points of his F1 career. He’s had a tough start to his second season in a much less competitive car, and the strain appears to be showing in his increasingly terse radio messages.

However Montreal, like Baku, should mask the FW41’s inherent flaws and play to some of its strengths, notably its Mercedes power unit. A points-scoring finish could well be in the offing again.

Hyper-softs return

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Monaco, 2018
Drivers had to tread carefully on hyper-softs in Monaco
The hyper-soft tyres received a somewhat mixed reception in Monaco. Drivers tended to steer clear of them in the race if they weren’t necessary.

How well will they stand up to Montreal’s combination of relatively low grip, low cornering speeds, but high top speeds? We could see some more extreme tyre strategies on Sunday if they wear out quickly.

Hartley feeling the pressure

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a new track for both Toro Rosso drivers this weekend. In Monaco Pierre Gasly produced a superb drive, reminiscent of his top-drawer performance in Bahrain.

We haven’t seen as assured a performance as that from his team mate Brendon Hartley yet. Life as a Toro Rosso driver is a tough business, and already rumours are gathering that Helmut Marko is planning Hartley’s replacement. Will he thrive or falter under the pressure?

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2018 so far

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2018 Canadian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “Who’s leading F1’s power race? Five Canadian GP talking points”

  1. After Bahrain and China, I actually thought Ferrari has the power unit to beat, but we’ll have to see the actual potential of Ferrari power unit this weekend. They’ve got the FIA monitoring them, so it will be interesting to see whether they’re as competitive as they were in Bahrain, China and Baku or whether it’s back to advantage Mercedes.

    1. They will be, you are a cynic that believes ferrari may be guilty of something, so expects a power drop now that they are being monitored. I believe they are above board like fia have proclaimed, and won’t be bothered by excessive monitoring. From everything I have read, even if ferrari found an advantage, it is only about 20hp.

      1. They will be, you are a cynic that believes ferrari may be guilty of something

        Sure. Ferrari cheating is absolutely ridiculous. They’ve never done that before have they?

        even if ferrari found an advantage, it is only about 20hp.

        Maybe you need to get with the program and understand how much an extra 20hp translates in to lap time in Q3.

    2. Even in Australia, Ferrari’s were already faster pulling out of the corners and with higher topspeed. Whereas Mercedes was making up time in the corners and under braking.

      Which part of the power train is responsible for this might be up for debate, but somewhere along the line they do seem to find more power than the Mercedes engined cars do.

      1. Honestly what is really disturbing is FIA monitoring Ferrari now, but never raised a little finger with Mercedes that spoiled with dullness F1since 2014. Now we are having an entertaing season so far but it seems that if the winner is not british-related they have an issue with it. Too bad for the show.

  2. Who are the top contenders to replace Hartley, should that happen?

    1. Norris

    2. @shimks @melmgreen I’d add Wehrlein to that list as well.

    3. @melmgreen @jerejj

      Interesting that the Norris story popped up this morning!

      I’d forgotten about Wehrlein. It does seem his time isn’t done in F1. It seems Hartley’s definitely is.

  3. Maybe in the race Ferraris engine is catching up but in qualifying and shorts bursts of overtakingpower it still seems Mercedes got the strongest “partymode” by far. I wonder why that is, where are they able to extract so much additional power that cant be run for more than a dozen of laps per engine. They still have to abide by the fuelflow and ERS restrictions like everyone else where is the extrapower coming from?

    Are they only running it in short bursts to not get caught cheating or to save engines?

    1. Ferrari has the stronger ‘party mode’ by a mile this season. Speed traps and qualifying sessions have you been watching?

      1. I have been watching the sessions where Mercedes always bakes the biggest improvment in Q3, what have you been watching?

        1. Hamilton you mean?

        2. Mercedes made biggest improvement in Q3, but Vettel and Ricciardo still standing in front of them most of the time. There’s no doubt Mercedes engine is inferior as lesser horsepower and can’t use party-mode for too many laps compare to Ferrari…

          1. I doubt it is inferior but even so they clearly have the strongest partymode.

    2. Yes the extra power has to be coming from somewhere. It cannot come out of nowhere. There is a fuel-flow limit so it cannot be extra normal fuel, so what is it?

      I’ve been trying to figure it out and have come up with the following:

      Burning oil? This is illegal at it would exceed the fuel-flow limit and so would have been stamped on years ago at Mercedes. Unless there is a small reservoir of special additive that damages the engines but doesn’t exceed the limit. Perhaps, but this too is now outlawed but the party still goes on.

      Burning batteries? Have some special mode in the battery store to pump out excessive stored chemical energy, But this too would be illegal.

      Perhaps it’s a small party-mode centrifuge in the fuel-line that separates the “normal” fuel mixture into “super” and “filler” modes and feeds them into the engine in high-power areas or breaking areas respectively. It could do this for one or two laps with altering the mix too much or potentially being too damaging to the ICU. Would need a chemist who understands the F1 fuel rules to comment, but it’s the only thing I’ve come up with that wouldn’t be illegal.

  4. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    6th June 2018, 14:26

    Based on Baku, Ferrari may have the better engine. Fingers crossed Seb gets his 50th win :D

    1. Based on Baku Ferrari have a better chassis.. and still a shorter wheel base… And based on Baku Mercedes still have the best engine… In sector 1 and 2 Ferrari an rb crushed Mercedes but in s3 is where Mercedes was making the big time… Just like Bahrain…

  5. This year I root Vettel-Ferrari for the championship. Best engine power and 2nd best chassis after Red-Bull.
    Mercedes? 3rd fastest car maybe?

    1. Mercedes if far from third and i think it will take a lot of luck for RB to beat Mercedes.

      1. Even ferrari will need a lot of luck to beat mercedes, DO NOT underestimate them, hamilton has been subpar in several races and who’s leading? And canada is one of hamilton’s strongest tracks usually (there can be ofc exceptions).

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