Winners and Losers at the Canadian Grand Prix
9 June 2014 – A dramatic Canadian Grand Prix saw Mercedes beaten for the first time in 2014, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo stealing victory from Nico Rosberg. On the other end of the scale, Felipe Massa and Sergio Pérez endured a mammoth clash, while Lewis Hamilton retired. GPUpdate.net picks its winners and losers...
Pre-season there were perhaps a few doubts over whether Daniel Ricciardo really had what it takes to be a major player at the front of the Formula 1 field. It didn't take long for any questions to be answered in 2014 and he arrived in Canada having been 'best of the rest' behind the Mercedes duo for the last two races. But the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve wasn't expected to suit the RB10 and Ricciardo admitted that his qualifying lap was a 's**t house', even if it was just 0.041s behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Ricciardo stayed out of trouble for the duration of the race and crucially profited from Red Bull's strategy to jump Vettel. He remained calm behind Sergio Pérez – who was faster down the straights – and made his move at the crucial time. From there he rapidly hunted down the wounded Nico Rosberg to claim a popular and well deserved first win in the sport.
This was the weekend when Lewis Hamilton was supposed to claim back the authority in the world championship battle but instead the hands of fate aided Nico Rosberg in extending his championship advantage to a comfortable 22 points. Rosberg edged out Hamilton in qualifying and made his mark with a forceful but fair move into the first corner. From there he controlled proceedings, even if Hamilton was frequently taking chunks out of his lead. He had a moment at turn four but once the MGU-K problems hit, he was able to maintain a decent pace in the circumstances. With the lack of straight line speed he needed to nail the first two sectors every lap and he did – had Pérez managed to hold off Ricciardo for another lap or two (and Rosberg himself not run wide on lap 48) there's every reason to suggest that he would have claimed victory despite his W05 being severely disadvantage – itself an example of the squad's overall advantage.
Several drivers had a good race in Canada – including the likes of Jenson Button and Nico Hülkenberg – but no-one needed a top result more than Jean-Éric Vergne. The French driver arrived in Canada on the back of a streak of woeful misfortune which masked the progress he has made this season. But at a circuit which suits his driving style he was on form all weekend and set a strong time in Q3 before jumping Fernando Alonso at the start and only losing out through the pit stop phase. He was able to stay ahead of Kevin Magnussen and claim a handful of points for Toro Rosso. The recent form of Red Bull junior Carlos Sainz Jr in Formula Renault 3.5 has undoubtedly led to suggestions that the Spaniard is ready for Formula 1 in 2015. But Vergne's recent performances show that he shouldn't be dispensed with just because he's experienced (in Red Bull/Toro Rosso terms anyway!) Now he needs to build on this result across the next few rounds.
There were many losers during a dramatic Canadian Grand Prix but one of the main casualties was championship contender Lewis Hamilton. The Brit traditionally runs well at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and after witnessing Rosberg take the win in Monaco, losing 18 points to his rival in Canada must have been a tough pill to swallow. Hamilton was on form throughout practice and most of qualifying but he failed to make it count during the closing stages and had to settle for second. He made the better start in the race but was fairly edged out by Rosberg and dropped behind Vettel, albeit a position which he soon corrected. He carved into Rosberg's lead but couldn't get through and when car troubles hit he was the one who suffered most. Whereas Rosberg could continue, Hamilton's brakes gave up the ghost and he had to call it a day. After a couple of tricky races, he needs a strong result in Austria.
Having departed Ferrari and arrived at Williams just as the team experienced an upturn in form, Felipe Massa has not yet picked up a result which the car's ability suggests is possible. The Brazilian has been beset by misfortune but in Canada it looked as if he would finally make the breakthrough. He started well and when Mercedes hit trouble he became the first non-Silver Arrow to lead a racing lap in 2014. Williams duly serviced him for a second time to avoid his tyres hitting the cliff but he was held up for too long by Hülkenberg and team-mate Valtteri Bottas. After clearing those two he pumped in personal best times and caught up with the lead group. But in trying to pass Pérez the Mexican jinked into his racing line and the duo had a high-speed clash, with Massa ending up in the wall. Considering his earlier position, a win was not out of the question, so ending the race in hospital was a disappointment.
Perhaps the most damning indictment of Ferrari's season was the fact that only 11 cars officially finished the race in Canada and the red cars of the Prancing Horse were sixth and 10th. Fernando Alonso struggled with balance and while his pace improved, he was unable to catch the leading group ahead and had to settle for sixth. Kimi Räikkönen meanwhile endured a dismal weekend as he rounded out the Q3 runners and had a scrappy race, which included a spin exiting the hairpin. The Finn was 24 seconds behind ninth-placed Magnussen at the end of the race and was fortunate to pick up a point. With Renault picking up their first victory of the new era only Ferrari has yet to savour top spot, with Alonso's podium in China an ever-distant memory. These are dire times for Formula 1's iconic team and there's little chance of matters improving quickly.