It may be debatable if he has the fastest car or not, but on Saturday, boy did Lewis Hamilton make it look like it.
As Toto Wolff said afterwards, a lap like that – three tenths faster than the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, seven tenths faster than teammate Valtteri Bottas – makes you realise just how special he is.
At no point prior to Q3 did the Mercedes seem out-of-reach of the Ferrari, and then the final session arrives, and he just pulls a stonker out of the deepest recesses of his nether regions.
It was only fitting that that was the lap that got him level with Ayrton Senna’s total of 65 pole positions. Say what you will about Hamilton as a personality, but he certainly deserves the highest praise as a driver, and the helmet of Senna’s was a well-deserved reward.
Now attention shifts to Sunday, and what Ferrari have to answer. If Friday’s results are to be believed, the advantage should swing back towards the Scuderia, whose long-run pace was far more consistent. As things stand we really don’t know if Mercedes has got on top of the issues that led Hamilton to brand the car “weak in all areas” after FP2, and considering the qualifying gap to Bottas, it’s possible the car is still not as good as it seems. Sunday should be very, very interesting.
Haven’t been able to write that in a while.
Taking out the reintroduced Montreal Raft Race, McLaren are officially no longer winless in the Honda era. Of course, it probably helped one of their rowers was a former Olympic medallist – also they didn’t seem to have any Honda engineers on-board to weigh their efforts down. Still, it counts for something, right?
Stroll Struggle Watch: Eight tenths down on Felipe Massa, out in Q1. Ouch.
Conversely, Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen put in particularly excellent qualifying performances – Alonso P12, Hulkenberg back in Q3, and Verstappen out-qualifying a teammate for the first time in Canada
The raft race wasn’t the only initiative of Liberty Media’s to make its mark on Saturday, with free live streaming introduced for race attendees. It’s a bit weird praising a billion-dollar corporation all the time, but you can’t deny they’re doing a good job.
Pascal Wehrlein has had a particularly hit-or-miss 2017 so far – add Saturday’s crash to the misses.
Race Tyre-Strategy Preview, Courtesy of Pirelli:
- The theoretical quickest pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:
- The Quickest One-stopper: ultrasoft for 22 laps + 1 stint on soft to the flag
- The Second Quickest One-stopper: ultrasoft for 33 laps + 1 stint on supersoft to the flag
- Third Choice (slower) Two-stopper: 2 stints on ultrasoft (22+22 laps) + 1 stint on supersoft to the flag
- Different permutations of compound usage within each strategy are possible.