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F1 Race Preview: Canadian Grand Prix


I don’t think there’s a single person who is disappointed that we finally get to return to Canada for our next stop on the F1 calendar. It’s been three long years since we last visited the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and we’re all excited to see who’ll add their name to the illustrious list of winners here.

Verstappen will certainly go into the Canadian Grand Prix as the favourite. But who else might have a chance at the win? Read on to inform your F1 predictions ahead of the ninth race of the 2022 Formula One season with expert insight from Jennie Gow.

Formula One 2022 Season: A look back on Baku

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend promised plenty of drama and yet again delivered it in spades! Once again, Charles Leclerc was unbeatable in qualifying on Saturday with yet another pole position, his sixth of the season.

But as with the previous race in Monaco, Leclerc couldn’t convert pole position into a race win. After losing the lead of the race to Sergio Perez at the start, things were starting to look up as he retook the lead after Max Verstappen’s pit stop.

However, his excitement soon turned to agony as just a few minutes later, Leclerc’s Ferrari began billowing smoke and he had to return to the pits to retire the car. This drama followed an earlier disappointing retirement for fellow Ferrari man Carlos Sainz following hydraulic issues.

The Ferrari double DNF left the way clear for Verstappen to take his fifth win of the season and extend his lead at the top of the standings to 21 points over his teammate Sergio Perez – and now a whopping 34 points over his title rival, Leclerc, who has dropped to third.

The engine failure for Leclerc almost certainly means he will pick up grid place penalties at races in the future. The reliability and strategy woes that seem to be derailing Ferrari’s title hopes need to be resolved and resolved quickly, if Verstappen isn’t to secure the Drivers’ title with many races in hand.

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Canadian Grand Prix 2022: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

The Canadian Grand Prix has been the site of some epic races over the years and is popular with fans and drivers alike. The rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix of 2011 was Formula One’s longest race, lasting four hours, four minutes and 39.537 seconds. The safety car was deployed six times, another record.

This weekend should be a simpler affair, though, and one that the teams and drivers are really looking forward to.

The man-made Notre Dame Island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River was created for the 1967 Expo World Fair and also played host to rowing and canoeing events at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. The Ile Notre-Dame Circuit was built in 1978 and has been the location for the Canadian Grand Prix ever since - pretty good use of land I hope you would agree!

The Circuit Ile Notre-Dame hosted its first race in 1978 and was won by Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve. In 1982, a few weeks after his death at the Belgian Grand Prix, the circuit was renamed in his honour and has been the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ever since.

The track is a fast, low-downforce circuit. There are many fast and flowing areas where cars can get up to high speeds but it is also quite stop-start, with plenty of chicanes providing heavy-braking areas. There is also the famous hairpin at turn 10 and the Wall of Champions at turn 14, which earnt the nickname in the 1999 Grand Prix when Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the barriers.

Canadian Grand Prix 2022: Can Hamilton make it a record eight wins?

It feels like a very long time since the F1 circus last landed in Montreal. In fact, it’s so long that last time out, Sebastian Vettel was on pole and Lewis Hamilton won the race! Could either driver replicate that form this weekend?

Well, Canada is where Hamilton won his first-ever Formula One race way back in 2007 – the first of a record-breaking 103 victories. He has won seven times around the circuit – the same number as Michael Schumacher.

If he were to win this weekend, he would become the most successful driver around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. However, despite finishing fourth in Azerbaijan last time out – following a truly heroic, almost back-breaking drive – an eighth win looks unlikely.

And despite a really decent performance from Vettel in Baku (where he finished sixth), he would also be a really long shot for the win or pole this weekend!

Canadian Grand Prix 2022: Who are the favourites?

So, who will be the favourite in Canada? Well, the favourite for pole is surely Leclerc again. He is the in-form man when it comes to qualifying – having secured six out of the eight pole positions so far this season. His style has been compared to that of the late Gilles Villeneuve so it would seem apt if the Monegasque man could snatch pole again here.

Vettel managed it in a lightning-fast 1:10.240 last time out but I’d be amazed if Leclerc could go faster this year due to the car designs being different.

Neither Verstappen nor Leclerc have taken pole or a win at the Canadian Grand Prix before – but even if their less-fancied teammates, Perez and Sainz, happened to pip the two lead drivers to pole, neither of them have started the race from the top spot - so it seems highly likely that we will get a debutant polesitter this weekend.

Can Leclerc convert pole to a win in Canada?

Since 2002, only seven different drivers have started in pole position. Sebastian Vettel has five pole positions to his name including the last two races to be held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Lewis Hamilton has six – the most recent being in 2017. Nico Rosberg was on pole in 2014, Fernando Alonso in 2006, Jenson Button in 2005 and prior to that Ralf Schumacher claimed two with Juan-Pablo Montoya on pole 20 years ago.

Of the 40 Canadian Grand Prix held at the circuit, only 19 have been won from pole position – just under 50%. However, the last race in 2019 was the first since 2014 in which the pole man didn’t win the race. So if Leclerc gets pole, which is likely based on his previous form this season, converting it to a win might not be that easy.

Canadian Grand Prix 2022: An outside chance for Carlos Sainz?

I really believe that Carlos Sainz is just moments away from his first Formula One win. He has suffered from low confidence and had some really bad luck so far this season, but for me, it is just a matter of time before the Spanish driver converts his fine form to a top spot. Could this be the weekend?

Ferrari have more wins than any other manufacturer in Canada with 12 wins at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in addition to seven poles and nine fastest laps. If they can sort their reliability issues out, then perhaps this will be Sainz’s weekend to shine.

Will Stroll or Latifi be the home hero?

Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi are both Canadian and are both excited about the return of their home Grand Prix.

However, this could realistically be the last one for Latifi who the media are suggesting could be on his way out of Williams at the end of the year. He has yet to score a single point this season and is becoming more well-known for his spectacular crashes and inability to see blue flags than for his driving ability.

While Stroll doesn’t look to be going anywhere, largely because of the significant investment his father is making in the Aston Martin team, his season has been disappointing so far – with only two points to his name.

It would be nice for both to get a decent result in front of their home fans. But I can’t see them troubling the top 10, based on recent form.

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