F1 Power Rankings: Canadian Grand Prix

The Formula One World Championship briefly interrupts the European portion of the season for a quick fly-away adventure to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. This is my favourite race of the season but not just because it’s my home race. The Canadian GP is famous for scads passing and being nearly unpredictable. It’s easily one of the most exciting races every year. I may have rank these drivers based on how they’re driving now and how they will do in Canada but we have no idea how this race will pan out.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #3)
Seb has been relatively hot and cold this season but has managed to get a quick stranglehold on the championship battle: “The circuit has a nice rhythm and it’s one of the best races we have all year. The atmosphere and fans are great, the whole city lives F1 for the whole week and that makes us feel very special. I like it.”

#2 Fernando Alonso (LR #1)
Last round was the first time that I would say that Alonso’s race went poorly because the F138 lacked pace. Sure, he finished 8th in Bahrain but that’s because his DRS failed which required two unscheduled pit stops to correct. There was just nothing in the car in Monaco. The problem is that Canada is one of Alonso’s weaker tracks. This isn’t a good weekend to attempt a bounce back and that could be a huge mental defeat without a strong Valencia track coming next.

f1-kimi-raikkonen-helmet-2013#3 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #2)
The Iceman has had a lot of interesting experiences in Canada: “Many times the race has been quite a lottery as there seem to be different things which affect it. The weather can change a lot, sometimes the tyres or the track aren’t working very well, sometimes there are a lot of safety cars, or sometimes another driver runs into the back of you when you’re waiting at a red light.”

#4 Mark Webber (LR #5)
Red Bull is really cheaping out on the PR quotage. I guess that’s how they’re keeping under the resource restriction agreement: “Canada is a really good race. It’s a popular grand prix for fans and drivers; the fans are very passionate and it’s always an interesting grand prix because it’s another street circuit. There are some very good restaurants in Montreal, the whole city stops for the race and the atmosphere is a bit more traditional I would say.”

#5 Lewis Hamilton (LR #4)
Old Louise Hamilton is a big fan of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: “The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been a strong circuit for me and I’ve been lucky enough to win there three times in my career, including last season. It’s always a great weekend in Montreal with a fun atmosphere in the city and at the track. The circuit itself is really special; it’s very high-speed, great fun to drive and it’s definitely a track where late braking helps.”

#6 Felipe Massa (LR #6)
The first crash at Monaco may have been down to driver error but could Massa’s crash on Sunday be down to Formula One’s two chassis at the track per team. With Massa needing to use a new chassis for this weekend, one has to wonder if the banning of bringing spare cars to the track causes an unnecessary hazard. It’s entirely possible that a problem with Massa’s chassis, rather than a part defect, caused his second crash. This could have been avoided if he was allowed to use a spare car but the FIA banned it for cost-cutting measures. Maybe they should think about changing that before we see this repeated in Monza.

#7 Nico Rosberg (LR #7)
Just because you win a dreadfully boring race that fans wished would end doesn’t mean you move up in the power rankings. Nico’s lucky I didn’t drop him for that win: “The Canadian Grand Prix is always a great event as the fans in Montreal are so enthusiastic. The whole city really loves the race and it’s such a lively place to be over the weekend. We receive so much support out in Montreal and it’s great to see that enthusiasm.”

#8 Paul di Resta (LR #9)
Dario’s cousin talks about Force India reaching its 100th race: “We’ve been competitive on every track this year and that’s a credit to the team, so we expect to be at our usual level once again. It’s traditionally a track that has suited us, so we go there confident that we can fight towards the front once again. 100 races is a significant achievement and it’s great to see how much the team has grown during that time. It’s a credit to the commitment of the shareholders and hopefully we can give them something to smile about come Sunday evening.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2013#9 Romain Grosjean (LR # 8)
Romain speaks a massive truth about drivers: “The track is interesting; not an easy one to learn, but as we say most of the time if you have a good result then you like the track! I’d certainly like to finish this year’s race on the podium again; that would be a good record to maintain. The city’s great too. People speak French, the place is lively, there are some great restaurants and everybody is really welcoming.”

#10 Adrian Sutil (LR #14)
Sutil should watch himself. There are a lot of nightclubs to go to in Montreal: “It’s definitely one my favourite races on the calendar because it’s a great city. It’s also an interesting and unusual track, and it can be a long race with different scenarios and strategy options. I like the circuit, but for some reason I’ve never had good results there. Hopefully we can change that this year.”

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2013#11 Jenson Button (LR #11)
If anyone says that Monaco is similar to Montreal is basically 100% wrong: “Like Monaco, the Canadian Grand Prix can be something of an enjoyable lottery – but whereas Monaco is a low-speed, high-grip place, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the opposite: high-speed and low-grip. It’s a mix that always comes together to provide the fans with great racing, which is another reason why it’s become one of the most popular races of the year.”

f1-sergio-perez-helmet-2013#12 Sergio Perez (LR #10)
Checo claims about three home races every year. It’s a bit excessive: “For me, racing in Canada is always special because it’s one of the three races closest to my home in Mexico. As in Austin last year, I hope there’ll be plenty of Mexican fans travelling up to Montreal to support me during my first Canadian Grand Prix for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”

#13 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #12)
Even a guy in the race like Ricciardo thought Monaco was boring: “Making a pass in Monaco is near-impossible. If the guy in front is half-smart, he’s going to defend his line when you’re close… It tends to be a race of follow-the-leader. The next race won’t be like this. The DRS will be effective and there will be plenty of passing on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.”

#14 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #15)
Pirelli boss Paul Hembery talks about the tyre situation in Canada. They’re taking a chance by bringing the supersofts: “We’ll be bringing the P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft tyres to Canada. Both of them have a low working range so they should be well-suited to the likely temperatures and track conditions we will encounter in Montreal… Canada has always been one of the toughest circuits of the year for the tyres as there is a lot of traction and braking, while the cars also tend to run low downforce, meaning that the emphasis is on mechanical rather than aerodynamic grip.”

f1-nico-hulkenberg-helmet-2013#15 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #13)
I think we might have to give The Hulk this week’s most generic quote award: “The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is one of my favourites. It’s a challenging track with a mixture of a permanent racetrack and a street circuit. It has some tight sections that don’t allow for any mistakes. I like the whole layout and, in particular, the kerbs.”

f1-esteban-gutierrez-helmet-2013#16 Esteban Gutierrez (LR #16)
Then again, Steve makes a strong challenge for most generic: “It’s a really nice circuit and I like it a lot. The track is slippery and tyre management will yet again be very important, which gives us an opportunity to put a good strategy together. Obviously overtaking will be easier than in Monaco, which can benefit us.”

#17 Valtteri Bottas (LR #18)
Val talks about going to Montreal for the first time: “This will be my first time driving at Montreal and I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s similar to the last race in Monaco in some respects, being a street circuit with a number of the corners and straights very close to the walls. The challenge is therefore to quickly find the cars limit and use as much of the circuit as you can, without taking too many risks.”

#18 Pastor Maldonado (LR #17)
Not only does Pastor struggle in dry weather but he almost seems scared of the rain: “Montreal is definitely one of the most challenging tracks, especially when it rains as the downpours can be quite heavy. Obviously this causes changes to the strategy regarding pit stops and tyres. It also makes life much more challenging on the track because there are certain places where puddles form.”

#19 Charles Pic (LR #19)
Chuckie talks about the kerbs which can be just as important as the brakes to speed around the track: “You also need to be able to attack the kerbs, both to maintain speed and to save time, so that’ll be another area we’ll look at in FP1 and FP2, making sure we can really hit the kerbs hard without losing stability and balance.”

#20 Jules Bianchi (LR #20)
Jules is excited so for this weekend that he spent time in the simulator: “Canada is one of the races I have been most looking forward to all season and I have heard a lot of things about the track and the fantastic city of Montreal. Having been in the simulator this week I feel excited for the weekend, although I think we can expect to be challenged by the demands of the circuit characteristics.”

#21 Giedo van der Garde (LR #22)
Gary quite likes the party he’s about to wander into: “What I do remember from last year was how hardcore the fans are in Montreal! We have a couple of big North American sponsors, so the team had a lot of guests in the paddock and in the grandstands, but I remember that from early on Thursday morning the whole place was packed! In the city itself it was the same – there’s one street where the whole place is shut down for the race weekend and we had a team dinner there on the Saturday night. It was a fantastic atmosphere, a lot like it is at home in Holland for big sports events, so I felt really comfortable there and am excited about getting back, this time to race!”

f1-max-chilton-helmet-2013#22 Max Chilton (LR #21)
Max says that engineers and the downforce setup will play a fairly important role in success this weekend: “This is one of those circuits that will keep the drivers and the engineers fully occupied by the engineering challenge, as there is such a careful balance to strike between the low and higher downforce sections of the track, at the same time as managing brakes and tyres.”

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