Team-Mate Wars: Canadian GP

Date published: June 14 2017

As self-interest spilled over into stupidity on the other side of the Force India garage, Esteban Ocon earned his first point in the Team-Mate Wars.

Mercedes
Hamilton 5 – Bottas 2
Race: Hamilton

A stellar weekend for Lewis Hamilton, with two peerless laps in Q3 on Saturday, a speedy getaway on Sunday and then a bit of a cruise around looking at the deltas. It was appropriate that he should show Senna-like domination on a weekend when he matched the great man’s pole record. Valtteri Bottas did exceptionally well muscling his way past Vettel into P3 at the opening corner and taking Sebastian’s attention away, enough for him to make a race-changing error by failing to spot Verstappen on the other side.

Ferrari
Vettel 5 – Raikkonen 2
Race: Raikkonen

Vettel may have outqualified Kimi by a margin, but his first corner mistake (ramming his front wing into Verstappen’s tyre) was to prove fatal for his race chances. Raikkonen chose to be careful through the opening three corners and got jostled down the order as a result – however he didn’t need to make a sub-optimal early stop like Vettel. There’s no doubting that Vettel’s recovery drive was strong, but ultimately it was Kimi’s failing Ferrari brakes allowed him past in the closing stages.

Red Bull
Max Verstappen 6 – Daniel Ricciardo 1
Race: Verstappen

In football, there is a lot of pre-game analysis where goalkeepers look at videos of opposing teams’ penalty-takers and which side of the goal they tend to favour. It would be interesting to replay a load of Max’s race starts and see if he tends to go to the outside if he starts on the outside, and vice versa. In Spain, he got caught out on the outside and was cannoned into by Raikkonen (courtesy of Bottas) which ended his race. In Canada he made a fantastic start round the outside and got no puncture from Vettel’s front wing. Result. His battery may have felt differently, but it was a mega race up until then.

Daniel Ricciardo pedalled as hard as he could to keep the Red Bull ahead of the big pink objects that filled his mirrors for much of the race, and he would have been grateful to Sergio Perez for being as stubborn as a burro, at not letting the Force India strategy work out. Christian Horner doubts that either Force India could have got past, but you never know until you try.

Force India
Sergio Perez 6 – Esteban Ocon 1
Race: Ocon

Sticking to your guns is something we admire in F1 drivers. But there comes a point where self-interest spills over into stupidity. Sergio Perez crossed that line on Sunday. What was the point of Force India running a completely different strategy (as James Allen pointed out during the race) for Ocon if the team can’t get the benefit from it?

It’s quite understandable for Sergio to hang on to his place if – having let Ocon past – he didn’t get it back. But the team said they would switch Ocon back if he couldn’t get past Ricciardo. And Ocon only had a limited number of laps to make it count. So what could have been a podium and fifth or sixth place, turned into fifth and sixth place. It kind of echoed Perez’s attitude last race when he said he didn’t care if the engine blew up.

From a team point of view it probably won’t make much difference. Force India won’t catch Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship and they look well clear of Toro Rosso, and Williams are in a development season bringing on Lance Stroll. But they might have had a podium and saved Patrick Stewart from drinking a load of champagne-flavoured bacteria.

Williams
Felipe Massa 7 – Lance Stroll 0
Race: Massa

Massa outqualified Lance Stroll by 0.8 of a second in Q1 on Saturday, but got a poor start and (very unlike Felipe) lost places through Turn 2. He was just recovering his speed when Sainz swept carelessly across the front of Grosjean and got pitched into the Williams driver. Race over. Massa looked as fast as the Force Indias, and so it was a hefty blow for the team who counted the Isle Notre Dame as one of the places to score big points courtesy of their Mercedes grunt.

That grunt continued in the back of Lance Stroll’s car and the rookie benefitted from the loss of Verstappen, Alonso, Massa and Sainz in front of him to claim his first World Championship points. Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel for Lance Stroll. And it’s not an oncoming train.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso 6 – Stoffel Vandoorne 0
Jenson Button 1- Stoffel Vandoorne 0
Race: Alonso

Vandoorne had another poor qualifying, ending up half a second adrift of Fernando Alonso. There may be a lot of talk in the motorsport press about McLaren scurrying around behind the scenes trying to find a replacement for their Honda engine, but the same could be said about Vandoorne.

It would be interesting to see the average qualifying gap between Alonso and Button, and Alonso and Vandoorne. If Alonso should leave at the end of the season, then Stoffel as new team leader…?

In the race Fernando was hampered by the fallout from the Sainz-Massa impact but was soldiering on with the usual blend of anger and sarcasm we know and love from team radio.

Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz 5 – Daniil Kvyat 2
Race: Kvyat

Another awful grand prix weekend for Toro Rosso, throwing away some great grid positions thanks to a combination of poor driving, poor knowledge of the rules and a PR disaster from Kvyat. Daniil, if you can’t get your car off the line for the parade lap, everything that follows is down to you and your team, not the other drivers trying to warm up their incredibly hard tyres.

After the race and the various penalties that were applied to him, Kvyat chose to describe the stewarding of the race as a “stupid circus”. There are those old enough to remember (yes, I’m talking to you Mr. Grant Richardson of Long Ditton) the days when Max Mosley would have taken a dim view to such remarks, and a short spell in the gulags would follow.

He should never have started from 11th on the grid and a small single penalty was nothing compared to the position he would have been in if he’d taken up the correct grid position his clutch problem had earned him.

His team-mate managed to penalise three cars including his own. Sainz’s wayward driving out of Turn 2 bounced him into the innocent Grosjean and the unsuspecting Massa. His future grid penalty was well-earned.

Haas
Romain Grosjean 3 – Kevin Magnussen 4
Race: Grosjean

Grosjean outqualified Magnussen again and kept it tidy through Turn 2 only to have a Toro Rosso take out his front wing. Magnussen should have had some points given the car’s innate speed, but overtaking Vandoorne under the VSC was never going to be a smart move.

Renault
Nico Hulkenberg 7 – Jolyon Palmer 0
Race: Hulkenberg

Palmer was less than two-tenths shy of Hulkenberg in Q2, so Jolyon is getting there. Radio 5’s Tom Clarkson (who’s almost certainly a buddy of JP) made the mistake of saying to him afterwards, “you were even slower in Q2 than you were in Q1” trying to make up for the fact that he’d missed out on beating his team-mate again. But he’d used the word “even”, and the sensitive Jolyon picked up on it. With Robert Kubica getting his own private test how long can it be…?

Has Nico Hulkenberg lost weight? Anybody? Interviewed on the grid he looked the slightest he has in a long while. His performance, as usual, was rock solid.

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson 2 – Antonio Giovinazzi 0
Marcus Ericsson 3 – Pascal Werhlein 2
Race: Ericsson

Once Pascal had made his Saturday trip into the barriers, which necessitated Sauber going into the repair truck to find bits of old car to strap on, (like an F1 version of Scrapheap Challenge) he was never going to be as quick as Marcus.

Star of the Race: Lewis Hamilton
Overtaking move of the Race:  Max Verstappen on Sebastian Vettel at Turn 1. A high-risk pass, that few can pull off without tears.
The Maldonado Award: Carlos Sainz jr.
The Last Word:
McLaren Engineer: “Fernando, it’s Plan A plus five laps.”
Fernando Alonso: “You are not giving me useful information!”

Andrew Davies

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