Is it Canada already? With Monaco already over and the British Grand Prix not far off, the European leg of the season is fast coming to a close now we’ve lost Germany temporarily on the calendar.
If your memory is any good you’ll know that last year was the scene of angst and anguish for Mercedes after both cars had brake-by-wire failures and Red Bull managed to take a surprise one-two, with Riccardo taking a very popular first win in Quebec.
That was a crucial moment in the season, because not only did it expose a weakness in what was so far a flawless Formula 1 car, but it gave the teams a glimmer of hope that the Silver Arrows wouldn’t completely wipe the floor with them and dominate the season with race win, after race win.
By contrast, this year we are seeing Mercedes’ own strategic calls crumbling around them. First it was Malaysia when Ferrari beat them on raw pace – albeit with some luck in Qualifying – then China where Hamilton controlled the pace that perhaps wasn’t in the spirit of what Mercedes wanted, and now the gaffe in Monaco that cost them a one-two.
With the chasing pack [as Sky would say] behind them bringing engine upgrades to this weekend, it will be fascinating see to where they are in relation to Mercedes, who we know from Bahrain and Monaco have still not sorted out their brake issues. Ferrari are said to have brought updates to their car which uses three of their allocated 32 tokens, with Honda using up two of their six this weekend. Ferrari are also bringing a new Shell fuel update which is said to be worth an extra 20bhp.
Speaking of lubricants, the fuel flow trickery which was clamped down after Charlie Whiting issued a technical directive during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, will be more representative this weekend according to Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Abiteboul said that the long straights will have a “massive impact” on the fuel flow, which could make the random tests more representative than the ones taken in Monaco by the stewards two weeks ago.
I guess we’ll wait and see. As for the weekend ahead there are a number of elements that could mix up the order, in particular a Safety Car or even a Virtual Safety Car. With the tyre strategies always providing us with a mix up and down the grid, it will be interesting to see what some teams do to work up the order.
Max Vestappen in particular has said that he plans on doing a few overtakes, after getting a five-place grid penalty this race for crashing into Grosjean in Monaco. Red Bull may also be taking the first Power Unit-related grid penalty this weekend, with Christian Horner saying the team are expecting to change Riccardo’s Renault PU this race. Lets hope it doesn’t affect his weekend too much.
Finally it looks like we will see some aero updates from teams this weekend given its contrast to Monaco in terms of straight-line speed being a factor. And with both Austria and Silverstone next up, the teams may be testing some low-downforce packages in time for Monza after the summer break.