After two stops in Europe, Formula 1 heads to North America for the first time this season as Circuit Gilles Villeneuve plays host to the Canadian Grand Prix, on the Ile Notre Dame in Montreal.
Lewis Hamilton is 25 points adrift of his championship rival Sebastian Vettel following the Ferrari driver’s victory at the last round of the campaign in Monaco.
Here we assess the big talking points prior to the seventh round of the season.
Can Ferrari keep the momentum going?
Ferrari top the constructors’ championship standings while their driver Sebastian Vettel tops the drivers’ table as the F1 circus sets up tent in Montreal. The Reds are fresh from a famous one-two victory at the Monaco Grand Prix and have momentum on their side.
However they now do battle on a high-speed track which is very differen to the twisty and narrow the streets of Monte Carlo. But in the SF70H have a car that has proven to be a match, if not stronger, than the best Mercedes have to offer and it will be intersting to see if they can keep the upper hand in Canada.
Will Hamilton bounce back?
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has conceded that, in his eyes at least, Ferrari are now the favourites for the championship following their one-two in Monaco a fortnight ago, a race in which Lewis Hamilton finished a distant seventh.
There can certainly be no hiding from the fact that the Briton is facing a tall order to get his title charge back on track. The key in Canada, a circuit which has suited Hamilton in the past, is whether he will be able to get on top of the tyre temperature issues that have plagued two of his last three outings.
The smart money would be on Hamilton, who was courtside for an NBA game with Barcelona star Neymar earlier this week, to bounce back. So often in Hamilton’s career has a duff weekend been followed by a strong one, but another sluggish display will be of huge concern to the triple world champion and his Mercedes team.
Alonso returns to the day job
Fernando Alonso returns to the McLaren cockpit this weekend after his exploits at the Indianapolis 500. “The Indy 500 was an incredible experience and it’s been amazing to learn a completely different style of driving, but I’m ready to get back to my day job and go racing in F1 again,” Alonso said.
The 35-year-old Spaniard is likely to be on a comedown as he trades the thrill of fighting for one of motor racing’s biggest prizes for the hope of hauling his McLaren, and its uncompetitive and unreliable Honda engine, somewhere near the points.
Alonso has vowed to take his decision on what he will do next year in August and, with only four rounds left before the summer break, McLaren will want to show signs of improvement in order to convince him to stay.
Time for Lance to end his Stroll
Lance Stroll, the 18-year-old rookie, has appeared in a number of commitments in Canada this week ahead of his debut home race. Stroll, whose motor racing career has been bankrolled by his fashion billionaire father Lawrence, is in need of a strong display after a lacklustre start to his career.
Stroll has yet to finish in the points and he has been one second slower than his Williams team-mate Felipe Massa, a driver who is past his best, in qualifying this season. Time then for Stroll to buck up his ideas – and where better to do it than in front of his home crowd?
Will the Wall of Champions claim more victim?
The final corner of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve became well known for crashes involving former World Champions. In 1999, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the same wall which had the slogan Bienvenue au Québec (Welcome to Quebec) on it. The wall became the infamous ‘Wall of Champions.’
The wall also was involved in a crash with Ricardo Zonta, who was, at the time, the reigning FIA GT sports car champion. In recent years, Formula 1 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg, CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya, Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Carlos Sainz Jr. and 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button have also fallen victim to the wall.In 2011 Friday practice the wall claimed 4-time F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel.
Before the wall was ‘renamed’ it also claimed victims such as 1992 World Sportscar Champion and long-time F1 driver Derek Warwick who spectacularly crashed his Arrows-Megatron during qualifying for the 1988 Canadian Grand Prix.
Will Red Bull come to the party?
Red Bull are suffering a below par season, their drivers struggling with the RB13 which simply has not been kind to the collective talents of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. However there was a glimmer of hope in Monaco where the Blues were closer tomthe sharp end of proceedings than they had been in the first five races of the season.
But that was Monaco… in Canada they may find the power dished out by their TAG Heuer badged Renauilt engine to be down on the required horses to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes. Whether the genius of Adrian Newey and his design team can reduce the deficit to the pace setters will be something to monitor during the weekend on Ile Notre Dame.