1) Vettel commits to all-out attack
That does not want to lose points to Lewis Hamilton is a given. What was impressive at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was just how committed he is to the task. Damage to the front wing on lap one was a major setback, coming back to finish fourth a huge recovery and the manner he achieved it a statement of intent. Having chased down and overtaken his team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, and still looking for a podium place, he saw passing the two Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon as paramount. Ocon was first and Vettel’s lunge down the inside of turn one, on the dirty line, was a breathtaking piece of bravado. He was losing downforce in the slipstream and was sliding – a risky manoeuvre but he made it stick and then scythed past Pérez on the final chicane. As damage limitation goes it was a masterclass. But what really stood out was his determination not to play the percentages. He knows he is in a nip-and-tuck fight with Hamilton for the championship and there was a chance a move could end his race but he went for it anyway. “Full risk, full on,” he said. “I wanted to get past, full stop.” Which is as good an attitude as can be hoped for from a title contender.
2) Force India’s tactics tangle
In a season where have put together a successful campaign, another great race in Canada was marred only by indecision. They have scored double points in every race bar Monaco this season, trail Red Bull by 41 points and are fourth in the constructors’ championship. Pérez and Ocon took fifth and sixth in Montreal but could have done better. Ocon was on fresher rubber at the end and was bottled up by the slower Pérez who had been trying to pass Daniel Ricciardo for third. The team asked Pérez to let him pass but allowed him to hold the place when he protested and asked for more time. Ultimately Vettel caught them both, which conceivably he would not have done had Ocon hared after and caught Ricciardo. The team’s chief operating officer, Otmar Szafnauer, said they were unsure of whether a swap would have worked. “The question is would Esteban have had a better chance and you don’t know the answer,” he said. But at least Ocon had a chance. It cost them their best shot at a podium finish this year and has raised the question over whether the finance Pérez brings to the team is pulling strings on the pitwall.
3) McLaren-watch part VII
Impossible to ignore, much as many would like to, McLaren’s car crash now appears to be part of some perverse, slow-motion groundhog day. In with a chance of their first point of the season, . He had once again proved his worth, wringing everything out of the car to claim 12th in qualifying and in doing so proving the chassis is very strong. The Honda engine is 90-100bhp down on the Mercedes and was 15mph off the pace through the speed trap on Saturday. His frustration has long been clear but after Canada the expected divorce from Honda and a return to Mercedes customer engines looked closer than ever. The team’s executive director, Zak Brown, until now firmly behind working through the issues, looks finally to be tired of the platitudes. “The engine just let go without warning,” he said. “It feels like you could replay this interview from a lot of races this year. We are talking about the different options to fix the situation, this reinforces that we cannot sit around waiting for things to come good. We need to be proactive.” Holding on to Alonso is paramount for the team and a Mercedes engine in a good chassis might just be enough to do so.
4) Max is mad
was understandably frustrated after a premature finish in Montreal. His race ended with a battery failure on lap 11 and, when asked afterwards about the next round in Baku, said: “I don’t care too much. The whole season has already been crap.” This is his third retirement this season and it came after such a promising start. He had made an electrifying launch off the line, claiming second place through turn one and, although it was his Red Bull that clipped Vettel, the Ferrari driver accepted he was not at fault. Verstappen was then characteristically feisty – going after Lewis Hamilton’s lead at the restart and displaying all the attributes that have made him so popular. He was also well set, with the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, confident they had the pace to cover off Valtteri Bottas and maintain second place. The mechanical failure was a body blow and he was outspoken in his disappointment. “The start was great. I think it was the best start that they ever had at Red Bull, so that was good,” he said. “But in the end you are still left empty-handed, so that sucks tremendously.” He is understandably unhappy but Canada proved he can still play a part in the battle at the front and that Mercedes and Ferrari cannot ignore a charging bull.
5) New idea, no new story
Another spot of innovation from was well-received over the race weekend when they released a video of the drivers’ briefing from Monaco. The meetings have not been shown publicly since the 1990s and the interest in it was huge. Liberty say there are no plans to do it again, amid concern that making the discussions public would dissuade the participants from speaking candidly. But doing so would be another step forward in bringing the fans closer to the sport – and it would at least be a concrete move which was something wholly absent from the press conference held by F1’s senior management team of Chase Carey, Sean Bratches and Ross Brawn in Montreal. Their answers as to what to expect in future could have been pretty much cut and pasted from statements made in January. Nothing new was forthcoming – promoting fan engagement, more races in the US, making events a festival of entertainment and, yes, Silverstone, we want to keep you on the calendar but renegotiating the deal is not on the table. That they are publicly presenting themselves and answering questions is an improvement on Bernie Ecclestone’s methods but it is also time they put some meat on those bones.