Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel has been winning Formula One races all over the world for the past three years with ruthless efficiency.
In chalking up three successive world F1 Drivers’ Championship victories, the German has added his name to the honour roll of winners at almost every track on the circuit.
Only a few races have eluded him, most notably his home race – Germany, but also the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
The demanding street circuit, with its long straights and slow, tight corners, does not suit Vettel’s Red Bull, but his failure to win there has had little to do with his car.
In 2011, he seemingly had the race at his mercy when he charged to the lead after a long rain delay, only to make a mistake on the last lap. He slid wide, a rare error, but one which allowed a hard charging Jenson Button to overtake him for the checkered flag.
“Obviously one of the craziest moments was in 2011,” he recalled as he looked ahead to Sunday’s race. “I made my first mistake of the [entire] race which cost us the win. But that’s racing.”
Determined to make amends, Vettel started last year’s grand prix from pole position and led the early part of the 70 lap race. But he lost pace over the final laps and was lucky to finish fourth after skimming the wall near the end.
Although he leads the world standings with 107 points, a victory on Sunday is anything but assured.
There have been four different winners from the six races this season. Only Vettel and Fernando Alonso have won twice.
Unlike Vettel, Alonso has tasted victory at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit before, winning in 2006, en route to his second world title with Renault.
Alonso is third in the title race, 29 points behind Vettel, and Ferrari have not won at the track since 2004, when Michael Schumacher was at the controls.
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, is second on 86 points. He won the season-opener in Australia for Lotus and finished runner-up in three successive races before fading to 10th at the last race in Monaco.
The Finn won in Montreal in 2005 but noted that it remains one of the most unpredictable events on the F1 calendar.
“Many times the race has been quite a lottery as there seem to be different things which affect it.” he said.
“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.”
If recent form is any guide, Mercedes could be the team to beat this weekend. Germany’s Nico Rosberg has set the fastest times in qualifying to snatch pole position at each of the past three races and won in Monaco.
“Monaco was a fantastic weekend for the team and I’m so proud of the victory that we achieved there. We’ll be hoping to maintain that momentum in Canada this weekend,” Rosberg said.
Hamilton, who started on pole in China and has two podium finishes this season, is a Canadian Grand Prix specialist, winning in 2007, 2010 and last year.
He is tied with Nelson Piquet for the second most wins in Montreal, trailling only Schumacher, who has won a record seven times.
“The circuit itself is really special,” the Englishman said. “It’s very high-speed, great fun to drive and it’s definitely a track where late braking helps.”
“It’s not too far off a Monaco-style circuit where you need a similar set-up to bounce off the kerbs so we should be quite competitive, although looking after the tyres will be our main challenge.”
Reuters Statistics & Facts ahead of Canadian GP
- Four different teams have won in six races so far this year (Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes).
- Nico Rosberg’s win in Monaco, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finishing second, was the first German one-two in Formula One since the Schumacher brothers Michael and Ralf at the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix.
- Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has 32 career wins, Vettel 28, Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton 21, Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen 20 and McLaren’s Jenson Button 15.
- Ferrari have won 221 races since the championship started in 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 36.
- Mercedes have been on pole for the last four races. Germany’s Nico Rosberg, winner in Monaco, is chasing his fourth pole in a row.
- The last driver to take four successive poles was Vettel in 2011 (Hungary/Belgium/Italy/Singapore/Japan).
- Vettel has 38 poles to his credit, putting him third in the all-time list (Michael Schumacher had 68 and Ayrton Senna 65). Hamilton has 27 and Alonso 22.
- Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after three seasons in Formula One.
- None of the five 2013 rookies have scored points so far.
- Kimi Raikkonen has now finished 23 successive races in the points for Lotus and this weekend can equal Schumacher’s 2001/02/03 record of 24 with Ferrari, although scoring systems have changed.
- Former champions Williams have yet to score a point this season and for seven races in a row – their worst start since 1975.
- Hamilton has won the Canadian Grand Prix every time he has finished (in 2007, 2010 and 2012).
- Alonso (2006), Button (2011) and Raikkonen (2005) are the other previous winners on the grid. Red Bull have never won in Canada.
- Ferrari last won in Montreal in 2004 with Michael Schumacher. McLaren have won the last three Canadian Grands Prix and four of the last five.
- In total, McLaren have won 13 times in Canada to Ferrari’s 11 and Williams’ seven. Michael Schumacher won a record seven times in Montreal.
- This year’s race is the 44th Canadian Grand Prix and 34th in Montreal. The circuit is harder on brakes than anywhere else on the calendar.
- Since 2000, the race has been won from pole only four times.
- Four drivers have taken a debut win in Montreal: Belgium’s Thierry Boutsen (1989), France’s Jean Alesi (1995), Hamilton (2007) and Poland’s Robert Kubica (2008).
- Rosberg’s Monaco win made him the first driver this season to lead every lap of a race. It also ended a run of 16 races won only by world champions.
- Vettel’s second place in Monaco was the 50th podium finish of his career.
- Sunday’s race will be the 100th for the Force India team under that name.
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