The 2019 Grand Prix season has once again illustrated how Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team dominate modern day Formula 1 racing. With Hamilton winning four out of six races so far, and Mercedes already having nearly double the amount of points of Ferrari in the Constructors’ table, it’s business as usual.
However, the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix on 9 June seems well favoured towards the Ferrari car, and it could give Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc their best chances of a winning result this season. But with Lewis Hamilton in fine form and recently stating that he’s ready to put in another five years of Formula 1, it’s going to be another thrilling motor racing showdown.
How the power-hungry Canada GP could favour the Ferrari team
Mercedes have so far won every race this year, but they face a much tougher proposition at the Canadian Grand Prix. Whilst recent Grand Prix races in Monaco and Spain featured plenty of tortuous corners that showed just how competitive the Mercedes cars are on tight circuits, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has many long straights that could give Ferrari the edge.
The Mercedes Formula 1 chief, Toto Wolff, has stated that the team are already planning to introduce an upgraded engine for the Canada Grand Prix. But straight-line speed is where Ferrari have shown the greatest amount of promise. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc should have won the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain had it not be for reliability problems, and the Bahrain GP offered a similarly power-hungry circuit to the one featured in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Seeing as nearly half of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve circuit can be driven at full-throttle there’s hope that Ferrari could race ahead of Mercedes on the straights, and fend off Hamilton and Leclerc on the corners. Much will depend on how things go in the qualifying sessions, but if Ferrari don’t manage to put in a winning performance in Canada, it’s hard to see how they could succeed throughout the remainder of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
What’s gone wrong for Ferrari in 2019?
The last Formula One race saw Sebastian Vettel picking up second place, and it was alarming to see how this was Ferrari’s best position after no less than six Grand Prix races. The fact that Ferrari only managed to produce the third-fastest car after Mercedes and Red Bull was another reminder that the legendary racing team are once again facing another season in the doldrums.
Much of the pre-season expectations were geared towards Ferrari being genuine title contenders, as their new engine gave them a clear advantage on the straights. But with the SF90 coming up short in downforce, it has mean that Vettel and Leclerc have been struggling on corners.
Ferrari brought their first upgrade of the season to the Spanish Grand Prix, and whilst both Vettel and Leclerc managed to finish the race this time, their lack of podium positions will have done little to boost the team’s confidence.
With their worst start to the season since 2016, everything from the lack of downforce to issues with grip have been blamed. The recent Monaco Grand Prix was another disaster for Ferrari. Some issues like Leclerc’s puncture on the eighth lap could be put down to bad luck, but the embarrassing errors made in Saturday’s qualifying sessions have shown that all is not well in the Ferrari camp.
What’s next for Vettel and Leclerc?
Hopefully the upcoming Canada Grand Prix will finally give Vettel and Leclerc a decent opportunity to show the true power of the new-look Ferrari car. Leclerc has so far made a strong impression in the 2019 season, and the 21-year old Monegasque star has been putting plenty of pressure on his teammate.
Many have suggested that the new-found competition in the Ferrari team has caused Vettel to make some unusual mistakes during the first six races of the Formula 1 season. Leclerc replaced Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari at the start of the campaign, and he has already proven himself to be a very fast and confident driver.
Whilst Leclerc’s youthful enthusiasm may have cost him dearly at the recent Monaco Grand Prix, it seems as though he is having little issue with racing alongside a legendary driver such as Vettel. But with Vettel rumoured to be considering retirement at the end of the 2019 season, Ferrari could once again be looking for another big-name driver.
Much will depend on how things pan out in the next few races. Just like the Canada Grand Prix, the following race at the Paul Ricard circuit in France offers long straights well-suited to the Ferrari car. Plus the Austrian Grand Prix on 30 June is at the short Red Bull Ring circuit that features four good straights and only ten corners that might give Ferrari another reason to feel a little more confident.
Can anybody catch up with Lewis Hamilton?
The recent Monaco Grand Prix once again saw Lewis Hamilton picking up the chequered flag. Whilst this race provided plenty of drama as a result of Mercedes mistakenly putting Hamilton on medium rather than hard tyres, it gave the world another opportunity to see why this British star is at the peak of his game.
So far Lewis Hamilton has won the races in Bahrain, China, Spain and Monaco and he has once again found himself at the top of the drivers’ standings with an impressive 137 points. Not too far behind is his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with 120 points, and it looks like there is little hope of anybody catching up with the pair.
Despite this, it’s worth remembering that there are plenty of races to go before Hamilton earns his sixth Formula 1 championship title. Anybody who saw the Monaco Grand Prix will know that Max Verstappen always produces perhaps the most exciting and nerve-wracking performances and this Red Bull driver would be unlucky not to pick up a few wins in the current season. Plus McLaren are also starting to show some much better results recently, and it will be interesting to see where this team goes from here.
But ultimately, it’s all about whether Ferrari can get their act together at the Canada Grand Prix. If Vettel and Leclerc can take advantage of the long straights of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, they could show that the 2019 Formula 1 season isn’t necessarily another one-horse race.