Formula One Open Wheel

What We Learned from Canadian Grand Prix 2017

The Big Picture: The Canadian Grand Prix, held since the early 1980s in historic Montreal, is the most stable of all North American Formula One races. Mexico City has been on and off. The US’s race has been in many locations and irregular in frequency. Contracts signed last weekend extend the event through 2029.

The Event:  The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is laid out on the Ile Notre-Dame in the St. Lawrence River. 2.87 miles in length, the track is famous for its “Wall of Champions” into which many a world champion driver have crashed, including Sebastien Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and Jensen Button.

In Our Last Episode:  Vettel won decisively in Monaco with teammate Kimi Raikkonen as a disgruntled second place.

Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton earned his 65th career pole, tying the record of his idol, Ayrton Senna. The Senna family presented Hamilton with one of Senna’s actual race helmets. Starting after the jubilant Briton was Sebastian Vettel, Valterri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bulls.

Start: Clean, but Max Verstappen got around Vettel and Bottas which led to wing damage for Vettel. Lap 2 featured contact between Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz. Sainz then collected Felipe Massa. Neither Sainz nor Massa finished.

Race: This was Lewis Hamilton’s day from start to finish. Vettel was unable to take podium because of his early wing damage. Bottas had trouble keeping up with Hamilton but was assured of second when Verstappen’s car stopped on Lap 11 for unknown reasons. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed the final spot on the podium. Hamilton led every lap, scored the fastest lap, and won the race, giving him a grand slam.

Best Team:  Mercedes was the most outstanding team of the weekend, taking pole, fastest lap, and the race win.

What We Will Remember:  It was Lewis Hamilton’s second grand slam of 2017 and the fourth of his career. His grand slams now equal the total for Sir Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, and Sebastian Vettel.

Quote of the Weekend: “It’s been such an incredible weekend. I just couldn’t be happier with how it’s gone and I’m so grateful for this result. We came away from Monaco and we were scratching our heads, but we pulled together and look what we achieved. We came here with a much better understanding of the car and we delivered a real blow to the Ferraris. Valtteri did a fantastic job too and this is our first one-two finish together. We’ve scored a big load of solid points and it’s well deserved. It’s crazy to think I had my first pole and win here 10 years ago. The race actually felt very reminiscent of 2007, in terms of how it unfolded. It’s a long race here, especially when you’re out there on your own, but I knew the car would hold together and it did perfectly.” Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes driver.

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend: “I think my start was not particularly good but at the same time not that bad either. The car was good, I think it was clear that today we could have been better than fourth, but that’s how we finished and what is done is done. Overall, we know we have a strong car. Looking back at the start, Bottas and I were trying to go from the inside when Max came around but these things can happen. Then, with the safety car on track I did not realize that the damage to the front wing was as bad as it actually was, we only noticed it at full speed. There was also some additional damage to other parts of the bodywork, hard to say what they cost me in terms of laptime, but the car did not feel as the one I had driven in the past two days. Yet the pace was there and I would have liked some more laps to finish on the podium, the trophy here looked nice… That was my target and I missed it. But we are growing up as a team.” Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari driver

Schedule:  In two weeks, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the capital city of Baku on June 25th.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

By Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.