Austrian Grand Prix: All Mercedes Podium

It was an all Mercedes podium for the Austrian Grand Prix, though not quite in the order that fans were hoping for. Nico Rosberg extended his championship starting from P3 on the grid to take the victory, ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Pole sitter, Felipe Massa missed out on a podium finish due to tyre strategy, finishing P4. At lights out, Massa had a clean getaway extending his lead on the rest of the field. Rosberg squeezed Bottas out for second, but the Williams getting the better line into turn 2 took his position back. Meanwhile from P9 on the grid, Hamilton stormed his in between Kvyat and Raikkonen, and then Ricciardo and Magnussen to challenge Alonso for P5 going into turn 2. It was a good start for Perez, making up four positions on the opening lap as the rest of the field raced their way around the Red Bull Ring for the first time.

… More to come

– Alex

Qualifying Pole Felipe Massa (Williams-Mercedes)
Podium Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (Williams-Mercedes)
Fastest Lap 1:12.142 (Force India-Mercedes)

Austrian Grand Prix: Pre Race Thoughts

Hallo, und willkommen auf der Austrian Grand Prix*. Formula 1 returns to Austria for the first time since 2003 at the newly renamed Red Bull Ring. The 4.326km circuit runs clockwise, and is the second shortest on the calendar. With only 9 corners, the track is an interesting combination of high speed straights into heavy braking and slow corners. One of the biggest issues that face drivers at the Red Bull Ring is the elevation change during the lap. This is especially apparent going into turns 8 and 9, where the car becomes light on the approach to turn 8, before dropping into turn 9. Resulting in a loss of grip and balance. The stewards have been heavy handed in disallowing lap times that exceed the track limits in the final sector, with no less than 14 drivers having their times disallowed throughout the sessions. While Mercedes power still dominated the time sheets, it was Williams who secured a front row lock out. Massa topped his team mate’s time by 0.087s to secure pole from Bottas. Rosberg qualified P3 on the supersofts, revealing the Mercedes to be slightly less competitive on the supersofts compared to the soft compound tyres.

Matching their pace for FP3, Williams hinted at the possibility of pole throughout qualifying. It was a squabble between the two Williams for pole, with Massa coming out on top. In the final session, Bottas pushed the Fw36 a little too hard on his first flying lap, locking up the right rear. The Finn went on the set the pace for Q3 with provisional pole. Team mate, Felipe Massa was equally quick on the supersofts, though sat P2 on the time sheets until Rosberg bumped him down to P3. In the final minutes of the session, Massa clinched pole position from his team mate, leaving Bottas to respond. On his final attempt however, Bottas drifted off the line out of turn 6, spoiling his challenge. So, the Finn must settle for a career best, P2.As each round progresses, I enjoy seeing Massa in the Williams livery just that little bit more. Since Ferrari decided not to renew the Brazilian’s contract for the 2014 season, Massa has began to race closer to his pre-accident form.

Mercedes have remained the team to beat throughout practice and qualifying, taking out their usual spot towards the top end on the time sheets. However, the Red Bull Ring has exposed a slight (emphasis on slight) weakness in the grip of the Mercedes on the supersoft compound tyres. The disadvantage is small, though it proved too much for Rosberg to challenge the Williams for a front row starting position. Both the Mercedes complained of understeer in the F1 W05, with Rosberg feeling it most at high speed. Hamilton failed to set a lap time in Q3. My tweeting prayers were answered when Hamilton ran wide at turn 8 on his first attempt on a flying lap, disallowing a 1:09.836, and then running off at turn 2 on his second attempt for a lap after locking his rear axle under braking. It was a bizarre moment for the Brit, and sees him start P9.

Ferrari had a better qualifying than recent rounds. Alonso carried his pace from free practice through to the final session, qualifying P4. The Spaniard had a rally moment during Q2 jumping over the grass on the exit of turn 9. He’d suffered from understeer, and lost grip, like many others, into the final corner. Raikkonen is still not comfortable in the Ferrari, and struggled to keep the F14 T balanced under braking. A lock up at turn 1 put Kimi’s best qualifying effort at P8.

At their home Grand Prix, Red Bull have had a somewhat bipolar performance. Both Ricciardo and Vettel had off track moments in the final corner during free practice, and it became apparent that the Bulls are not as competitive as they’d hoped in the Austrian countryside. Ricciardo just shaved enough of his time at the end of Q2 to secure him a spot in the final session, though Vettel’s best effort saw him eliminated at the end of the session. Ricciardo steadily improved on his time in the final session, and managed a competitive P5 in the end. Somewhat out of place, Vettel qualified P13, though will start P12 after Perez’s penalty.

It too was a bipolar performance for McLaren after Kevin Magnussen qualified P6, ahead of Jensen Button’s P12. The MP4-29 had improved over the weekend, though Magnussen clearly has the better handle of the car. Having missed FP3, Button struggled with the set up in qualifying, and was then caught in traffic behind Grosjean. At least with Perez’s grid penalty, the Brit moves up to P11 on the grid.

Recent track experience definitely paid off for Toro Rosso, as Kvyat made it safely through to Q3. On a late flying lap at the end of the session, the Russian rookie took P7 on the supersofts. Less familiar with the Red Bull Ring, Jean-Eric Vergne couldn’t put a clean lap together, struggling with the STR9. Keeping to the bipolar team performance, Vergne qualified P15, but will start P14.

It was a bittersweet qualifying for Force India. On a circuit where starting grid positions play a significant advantage, both Hulkenberg and Perez performed well but with not much to show for it. Easily making it through Q1, and eager to get temperature into the tyres, both Force India’s were out early in the second session, and sat best of the rest behind the Mercedes and Williams. Perez just missed out on Q3, and qualified P11. Unluckily for the team, the Mexican’s 5-place grid penalty for the last lap collision with Massa at the Canadian Grand Prix pushes him back down to P16. Hulkenberg did make it through to Q3, but had his late flying lap disallowed for running wide at turn 8, putting him back to P10. The result for Force India, having it all to do on Sunday.

Lotus struggled for both grip and speed during qualifying, with both drivers being eliminated in the second session. Even on the stickier supersoft tyres, the Renault power E22 proved difficult to control. Maldonado had an off track moment at the end of Q2, going wide at turn 5 and onto the gravel. Rather surprisingly, managed to out-qualify Grosjean for P14, though will start P13. While Maldonado had the scrappier, but quicker lap, Grosjean had better control, but slower laps. Early in Q1, the Frenchman put in a competitive time on fresh supersofts to bump him up to P7, though as the sessions wore on, the pace of the E22 began to fade. At the end of Q2, Grosjean qualified in P16, though will start P15**.

Sauber have been struggling in recent races, competing with the back markers rather than Force India and Lotus. The C33 has struggled for grip and balance over the weekend, resulting in slower lap times. Both drivers joined the exceeding track limits club, as Sutil and Gutierrez had times in Q1 disallowed. Sutil’s 1:10.774 would have been just enough to scrape him through to Q2, though Gutierrez’s 1:11.667 was still outside the Q2 cut off time. The best the team were allowed to muster puts Sutil in P17, and Gutierrez P18.

The back of the grid is rounded out the the familiar faces of Marussia and Caterham. Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was amongst the drivers to have their time disallowed for an off moment at turn 8, though his final flying lap still saw him out-qualify his team mate for P19. Max Chilton managed to keep his MR03 firmly on the grey stuff, though being half a second slower than Bianchi saw him qualify P21. However, Chilton does carry a three place grid penalty for causing the first lap collision with Bianchi at Canada, so will start P22.

Kobayashi and Ericsson had times disallowed in Q1, though both drivers were able to improve on their times while sticking within the track limits. Kobayashi is clearly within the battle with the Marussia’s, qualifying to split the two in P20. Marcus Ericsson’s early Q1 performance raises the question whether recent experience at the circuit in the junior formulas will play advantage to the newer driver’s on the grid. As the session progressed, Ericsson’s lap couldn’t remain competitive in the CT05, qualifying P22, though starting P21 thanks to Chilton’s penalty.

It will be a tough race for Massa and Bottas in trying to keep the Mercedes behind them. Though reasonably matched for speed with Mercedes, Williams’ have the advantage in grip at the Red Bull Ring, especially on the supersoft tyres. Most teams are favouring the supersoft tyres at the Red Bull Ring for as much grip as possible. Points for the most embarrassing  result from qualifying is tied between Sebastian Vettel’s elimination in Q2, and Lewis Hamilton’s failure to get a lap time on the board in Q3. While I don’t particularly enjoy Lewis Hamilton in general, I don’t mind the idea of watching him weave his way back to the front of the field. Hopefully the overtaking occurs in the corners, rather than down to the straight line speed of the Mercedes.

Adding an element of unpredictability to Sunday’s race, a recent understanding of the track elevation, and the limits to which you can push into a corner could definitely play advantage to the mid field teams with newer drivers, as seen by strong laps by Kvyat and Ericsson. No doubt an exciting race will unfold, with about 4 overtaking zones, some good battles too. We’ll have to wait and see who comes out on top.

– Alex

* I apologise if my grammar is poor. My German is a little rusty, and by that, I mean I’ve never learnt German.

** Grosjean will start now start from pit lane due to a late gearbox change

Canadian Grand Prix: Daniel Ricciardo Day

Daniel Ricciardo took out his first win in Formula 1 at the Canadian Grand Prix in a race that, let’s just say, exceeded my expectations. Nico Rosberg held on to his brakes to finish the race in second, while Sebastian Vettel avoided being collected in the last lap collision between Massa and Perez to finish third. From the first lap, the Canadian Grand Prix was more thrilling than the entire 2013 race. Hamilton had a smooth getaway, immediately putting pressure on the pole sitter. Going into turn 1 the two Mercedes may have kissed slightly, though Rosberg just managed to squeeze Hamilton out to retain the lead, and Vettel took advantage to move up a position to P2. Further back in the field, Bottas made an early move on Massa, while Vergne moved up on the inside of Alonso. However, it was the action at the back of the pack that brought out the safety car after less than a minute of racing. Max Chilton got his MR03 out of shape into turn 3, sliding straight into the path of his team mate. Bianchi had a big impact into the wall of champions, with pieces of his Marussia strewn all over the track. Chilton parked up further down, and both Marussia’s were out in spectacular style.

Starting from P6 on the grid, Daniel Ricciardo survived tyre-wear, over heating brakes, and pressures from the Force Indias’ and his team mate, to snatch the lead from Nico Rosberg with four laps to go. The Australian kept his cool following the gearbox of Sergio Perez in the final stint of the race. Having to back off to cool the car on several occasions, Ricciardo finally made the move on lap 66, getting the RB10 on the inside of Perez into turn 1. The move was daring, getting two wheels onto the grass, but Ricciardo controlled it, to move up into P2. With four laps to go, the Red Bull stalked the endlessly consistent Rosberg. Getting within DRS range, Ricciardo swept around the outside of Rosberg on the back straight just two laps later to take the lead from Rosberg. Sebastian Vettel took the final step on the podium, after a competitive race from the reigning world champion. Vettel held Hamilton back in P3 until his first pit stop released the Mercedes. The Red Bull driver spent most of his race balancing a combination of offensive driving to catch the Force Indias’ in front of him, while keeping the door closed on the Williams behind. Vettel’s pit strategy brought him out P9 on his second and final stop for soft compound tyres, though was still behind Perez. It wasn’t until lap 69 with the Force India losing his rear brakes, that the Red Bull was able to make a clear way passed now into P3. For a final hit of adrenaline, Sebastian Vettel avoided being collected in the Massa/Perez collision on the final lap. The out of control Williams careered across the grass, and straight into the path of the Red Bull. Some lightening quick reactions from Vettel saved the accident from being even more serious.

Nico Rosberg somehow brought his Mercedes home, after suffering from the same issues to his F1 W05 that saw him team mate retire on lap 48. As the race began to unfold, it appeared to be another predictable Mercedes 1-2 finish, with the only question being “could Rosberg keep Hamilton at bay”. Rosberg was undoubtably feeling the pressure, getting out of shape at turn 3 on his out lap, very nearly paying a visit to the Wall of Champions. There were some early scraps for the lead between the two Mercedes drivers, one resulting in an investigation by the race stewards for exceeding track limits. Rosberg had suffered a massive lock up to his right from trye, and missed the final corner, running over the chichane. The escape move took Rosberg out of the DRS threat from Hamilton, who had been closing in for several laps. No further action was taken by the stewards. At midway through the race, it became apparent however that both Rosberg and Hamilton were struggling to maintain their pace. The Mercedes were lapping 20km/h slower than the rest of the field, suggesting an issue with the energy recovery. On lap 48, Hamilton radioed to confirm that his brakes were failing, and retired from the race. Rosberg, suffering from the same issues, began to nurse his car through eventually through to the chequered in P2.

Both McLarens picked up points in the race. Though it was a lucky high points finish for Jensen Button, as the McLaren found himself jolted up to P4 on the final lap. Button had spent most of the race as more of a back marker conserving fuel and tyres, though a one stop strategy worked in his favour to bring the Brit forward within the points. Following his stop, the McLaren found the throttle, taking advantage of fresh tyres and retirements. Kevin Magnussen had a rather anonymous race, running on a two stop strategy to finish P9.

In a bittersweet ending for Force India, Nico Hulkenberg finished P5, where Sergio Perez classified P11 following a harrowing collision with Felipe Massa on the final lap. The Force India’s left rear tyre was clipped by the Williams on the entry into turn 1, sending Perez into a spin stopped only with the aid of the barriers. The contact at the end of a highspeed straight, broke Massa’s front right wishbone, leaving the FW36 completely out of the Brazilian’s control, and he too met the barriers. The Mexican’s race had been his season’s best, maintaining a one stop strategy to make up 11 grid places through the race. He was cut shy of podium finish moments before the collision, as Vettel made his way through on the dirty side of the track on the back straight. Nico Hulkenberg brought home success for the team with a strong points finish in P5, also on a one stop strategy, the German took his stop on lap 41, undercutting the Williams of Bottas, which was crucial for the Force India to chase down the Red Bulls. In the final laps of the race however, Hulkenberg didn’t have the same pace as Perez, creating a train of Bottas, Massa, and Alonso behind him.

Ferrari remain mediocre this season, with neither neither achieving a competitive pace from the car. Though it can be said that the Ferrari is reliable to finish, the F14 T is doing a disservice to Alonso and Raikkonen. Alonso had a poor getaway, immediately conceding a position to a fast moving Toro Rosso. The Spaniard had a rather unremarkable race, placing around P5 to P9 depending on pit strategies. Raikkonen on the other hand, initially made up a position from Button at lights out, though fell back through the field as the race unfolded. Both drivers picked up points in the race, though again, bumped up due to Perez and Massa, with Alonso finishing P6 ahead of Raikkonen in P10.

It was heartbraking* to see such a thrilling race for Massa end in the medical centre. Both the Williams had been competitive throughout the race. Running on a split strategy, Massa’s pace was substantially quicker than Bottas in the final stages of the race. The two stop strategy unfortunately kept the Finn behind Perez for much of the race. I doubt whether Bottas would have got the radio message “Felipe is faster than you”, but the Finn moved out of the way accordingly. Massa was released from behind his team mate at the hairpin on lap 58. On the same lap, the Brazilian set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:18.504. Though slower than his team mate, Bottas remained competitive throughout the race to finish P7.

Vergne was the sole Toro Rosso to cross the line. The Toro Rosso was quick off the line to make an early move on Alonso into turn 1. Like most the the field, Vergne was running on a two stop strategy. Eventually finishing inside the points, Vergne had a steady race, though was rather over shadowed by the rest of the field’s antics. Daniil Kvyat retired at the hairpin with 21 laps remaining after struggling with mechanical issues.

Adrian Sutil made up three places during the race on a two-stop strategy, though this was greater attributed to retirements on track than the competitiveness of the Sauber. Gutierrez had a difficult race, possibly picking up debris from the Marussia collision, pitting twice during the safety car period, first for supersoft, then soft compound tyres. The Mexican ran on a three stop strategy, at least keeping up with his team mate, with the two Saubers chasing the back of pack. Sutil was the last to pass the chequered flag, and in a race with so many retirements, was unlucky not to score points in P13. On lap 67, Gutierrez pulled into the pits for a fourth time, not to reemerge, though was classified P14.

Neither drivers for Lotus or Caterham were able to complete the race distance, proving the strain put on the brakes, engines, energy recovery, tyres, and anything else attached to the car at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Until his retirement, Romain Grosjean had a rather competitive race, battling with the Saubers for position. Albiet they were scrapping for P15, though Grosjean won the challenge and took his mini lead. On lap 62, the Frenchman was forced to retire with a broken rear endplate on his E22. Maldonado had an uncharacteristically anonymous race before retirement on lap 21. Kobayashi took up the responsibility from Sutil of a pirouette this year, losing the left rear of the car and spinning at turn 2 on lap 23. The Caterham only continued until the exit of turn 3, where he pulled over to retire. Marcus Ericsson’s race had barely began after the safety car restart when he pulled into the pits on lap 7 to retire. Max Chilton broke his streak of finishing every race started in a truly spectacular fashion. A massive disappointment for Marussia after Bianchi scored their first points in Monaco.

I admit, I completely underestimated the Canadian Grand Prix. I needn’t have worried about staying awake at 3:30am for the race start, or my numerous cups of coffee throughout the 70 laps. I, like most others watching in Australia, am now running on pure adrenaline. It’s a public holiday in Australia today for the Queen’s Birthday, though I’m quite sure we’ve already passed a vote to rename today “Daniel Ricciardo Day”, so happy DRD to you all! The Canadian Grand Prix exposed a weakness for the Mercedes to hotter track conditions, where the likes of Red Bull, Williams and Force India coped well. The stewards have handed Perez a five place grid penalty for Austria, though replays don’t appear to show the Force India at fault. Interestingly, the stewards made the decision without interviewing either driver, who are both still being treated in the medical centre. In a fortnights time, the Championship returns to Europe for the Austrian Grand Prix after an 11 year absence of the event. It will be a home race for Red Bull. Here’s hoping that Ricciardo can make it two in a row. Until then, I’m hoping that the adrenaline fades away and I can get some sleep. So, bonne nuit (hopefully).

– Alex

* braking, get it…? My attempt at a very early morning pun

Qualifying Pole Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Podium DANIEL RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:18.504 Felipe Massa (Williams-Mercedes)

Canadian Grand Prix: Pre Race Thoughts

Bonjour mes amis, et bienvenue à Montréal! The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is one of the fastest tracks on the calender. The 4.361km circuit is made up of twisty first sector that unfolds into high speed straights in sectors two and three. The hairpin at turn 10 is the slowest point on the track, with a large run off area if drivers lose traction. Despite this being a quick circuit, the seven braking zones make fuel consumption and energy recovery critical in teams strategies. In previous years, Renault engines have performed well in Canada, though this year, the focus will be on Mercedes powered cars. The Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid has a special setting that can be selected in qualifying to find extra pace. It was clear conditions for all three qualifying sessions in Canada, with Nico Rosberg taking pole with less controversy from Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel was the best of the rest, but still 0.5s behind the Mercedes.

Nico Rosberg kept the pressure on his team mate throughout the afternoon. Clearly quite comfortable to have the championship lead back in his favour, the German was the first to dive into the 1:14s. His best lap time was achieved with much less, lets say ‘attention’ than in Monaco, with 1:14.874s enough to ensure Hamilton couldn’t catch him, though not for lack of trying. Lewis Hamilton, who has been quick all weekend, did manage to get his time into the 1:14s at the end of the third session. Though the Brit lost time in the middle sector. His best effort was just 0.079s behind his team mate, but meant he has to settle for P2 on the grid.

Last years winner, Sebastian Vettel took out P3 in the session after a stellar flying lap. The Red Bull driver, had been slower than his team mate all morning, and sat uncomfortably in the drop zone during Q2. A lap on the supersoft tyres moved Vettel up into Q3. In the final session, Vettel took more risks in the second and third sector, braking later going on the throttle earlier. On a track that isn’t best suited to the RB10, Vettel’s P3 is a massive step forward for the team. Despite Ricciardo qualifying in P6, his lap time was a mere 0.041s behind Vettel’s.

The Williams car looked fantastic on track, with the Circuit  Gilles-Villeneuve agreeing with the FW36. Bottas was the faster of the two, just missing out on P3 from Vettel by 0.002s. While Massa artificially topped the timesheets in Q2 on the supersofts before the Mercedes put in their supersoft times. The Brazilian qualified in P5, just 0.028s behind Bottas with 1:15.78.

Unable to match their performance during free practice, Ferrari settled back towards the middle of the grid during qualifying. Alonso, who’d been the fastest on track in FP1, was still competitive in qualifying. He took the right lines, and was considerably faster than his team mate in sector 1. Though the F14T just isn’t up there with the Red Bulls and Williams in chasing down the Mercedes. The best Alonso could get out of the car was enough for P7. Kimi Raikkonen was more aggressive with his Ferrari, clipping right up against the Wall of Champions to get his fastest laps. The Finn is somewhat out of place on the grid after encountering traffic on his only flying lap of Q3. Kimi will therefore start P10, though I wouldn’t expect to see him there for long.

Jean Eric-Vergne is doing all he needs to do on a Saturday afternoon to ensure he retains his seat at Toro Rosso for 2015. Though looking a little bit scrappy at times in the first sector, Jev pushed the STR9 to get the most out of the Renault power unit. The Frenchman comfortably made it through to Q3, and on the supersoft tyres delivered a 1:16.162 to line up alongside Alonso in P8. Daniil Kvyat, while outperforming Jev in the first sector, couldn’t match his team mate for pace on the rest of the circuit. In Q1 the Russian broke too late into turn 14, running over the chichane, though managed to put in a time to secure a spot in Q2. The second session was as far as Kvyat would venture, qualifying in P15, 0.551s slower than his team mate.

Jensen Button made an appearance in Q3 for McLaren. Button’s strongest sector was the third sector, which is somewhat expected given the straight line pace of the Mercedes power unit. Though Button’s quickest is still only enough for mid field. By the end of Q3, Button had made up some time in the first sector, but lost it in the middle sector, eventually qualifying P9. Kevin Magnussen struggled with the lack of downforce in the set up of his MP4-29, though performed well in Q1 despite this, temporarily sitting second fastest on the supersofts. Mini Mag made as far as Q2, with a fastest lap of 1:16.310, good enough for P12.

It was a disappointing qualifying for both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, with neither driver getting their car through to the final session. The VJM07 has the pace to be competitive on Sunday, though was a little twitchy in the first sector resulting in time lost. Hulkenberg should have been in Q3, though was bumped down into the drop zone in the final minutes of Q2 by Vergne. Despite a scrappy first sector, the rest of Hulkenberg’s lap was clean, eventually qualifying P11. Perez had an incident at turn 8, getting his tyres on to the white lines and spinning into the run off area. Emerging unscathed, the Mexican managed a more controlled lap to go through the the second session. In the end, 1:16.472 for P13 was the best Perez could get out of the VJM07.

Lotus’ E22 is not suited to the setup required for the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, making the session difficult for the team. Romain Grosjean was the sole Lotus on track in Q2 after Maldonado was forced to make a ‘precautionary’ early exit from the first session. The E22 didn’t have the straight line pace to be competitive on a single lap, but handles well in the corners. Grosjean got the most out of the package as he could, getting his E22 to P14. Despite not finishing Q1, Maldonado’s initial lap time was good enough for P17.

Sutil was the sole Sauber on track, after Gutierrez spun his C33 into the barriers at turn 4 in FP3. It was a difficult session for Sutil, not for any particular incident, but rather his C33 just lack both pace and downforce. The result was less than competitive lap times, and a starting position of P16 on the grid. Gutierrez’s free practice crash damaged the Mexican’s chassis, and means he will start from the pit lane.

Marussia are consistently outperforming Caterham on a Saturday afternoon this season. Max Chilton out-qualified Bianchi for P18 and P19 respectively. Though he is getting used to lining up ahead of Bianchi on the grid, Chilton’s race performance is yet to compare to that of his team mates. Kobayashi has been a safe bet for Caterham (excluding his first lap incident in Australia), keeping his CT05 intact which is more than can be said his Ericsson. The rookie driver is racking up his count track incidences. Adding to the list today by red flagging Q1 in the final minute after putting his car into the wall of champions. Kobayashi and Ericsson round out the back of the grid with P20 and P21.

The Canadian Grand Prix isn’t the most exciting race on the calendar*, though the high speed nature of the circuit and two DRS zones provide plenty of opportunities for over taking. It’s just up to the drivers to take the risk, and make a move. It would seem that Mercedes are set to take out another 1-2 podium finish (barring a retirement). So it will be up to Williams to challenge the Red Bull for the final step on the podium. P3 to P6 are separated in qualifying times by 0.041s, which should hopefully translate into some competitive battles for position come race day. At the very least, I’m hoping Sutil manages another pirouette as he did in the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix, that would be nice…

– Alex

* Though my opinion may be swayed by the fact that I watch the race half asleep at 3:30am… Timezones…