The 2018 Formula 1 season officially reaches the one-third distance mark this weekend as Round 7 of 21 takes place at one of the most popular destinations on the calendar, the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
Following Daniel Ricciardo’s impressive victory on the streets of Monaco last time out for Red Bull, many now believe a three-way battle is in store for the championship is on the cards. However, the signs are not looking great for the Australian even before he has stepped foot in North America, as engine penalties mean he’ll likely start from the back of the grid.
Meanwhile, Ferrari and Mercedes will look to bring some normality back to proceedings after playing second fiddle in Monte Carlo with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel the likely candidates for the victory.
Here’s our look ahead to this weekend’s action.
About the race
Set on an island in the Ile de Notre Dame, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is in many ways a high-speed version of Monaco.
Long straights into a number of slow and medium-speed corners put an emphasis on engines and brakes but the walls are close and ready to embrace any driver who gets it wrong.
Known for unpredictable races with plenty of Safety Cars, it has thrown up some incredible moments including Hamilton’s first win in 2007 and Robert Kubica coming back from a huge crash that year to take his maiden F1 win 12 months later.
Then who can forget Jenson Button’s incredible drive from last to first in the four-hour rain-hit spectacular in 2011, passing Vettel on the final lap to claim the win.
Montreal is also ready to surprise with the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ at the final chicane catching out Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve during the 1999 race alone.
It’s one of the ultimate risk and reward circuits and 2018 is already shaping up to be a thriller.
Top driver picks
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes ($31.1m)
Winner of the last three Canadian GPs and six in total, the championship leader can match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven victories at this race this weekend.
It doesn’t matter what he drives, Hamilton can always be considered a contender which could be a good thing as his Mercedes may not be quite as well suited to the track as in recent years. But if the British driver can come close to the performance he achieved in Barcelona last month, stopping him will be very tough.
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari ($27.8m)
If one man can stop the aforementioned Hamilton though, it is Vettel. His Ferrari would seem to have most of the key advantages around this circuit.
On the straights, it has often been the Scuderia that have had the upper hand, under braking too they have the edge but the main area is likely to be the tyres with Pirelli bringing the same Hypersoft, Ultrasoft and Supersoft compounds which Mercedes struggled with in Monaco. Interestingly, Ferrari did too, which may offer Red Bull hope, but it is likely the Italian team and their lead driver will be the combination to beat.
Esteban Ocon, Force India ($9.9m)
Fresh from an impressive drive to sixth in Monaco, the Frenchman returns to the venue which kick-started his rivalry with Force India teammate Sergio Perez last year.
Ocon could well have been on for a possible podium but without a team order was instead left stuck behind the Mexican and dropped down behind a recovering Vettel late on. Though it hasn’t been the ‘Oconsistent’ year that 2017 was, he has continued to impress and with some momentum after Monte Carlo and a car which always does well on low downforce, high-speed tracks the 21-year-old could well be the midfield leader.
Worst driver picks
Fernando Alonso, McLaren ($11.3m)
Canada may mark 300 Grand Prix starts for the double world champion but it is likely to be an unhappy weekend to reach that milestone.
McLaren’s main weakness all year has been on the straights and that will likely be exaggerated in Montreal, particularly as engine supplier Renault is only reportedly bringing a marginal increase in performance from an engine upgrade. The Spaniard’s trademark has often been to make up for poor pace in qualifying by making up places in the race but when he admits Safety Cars and maybe rain is his best hope, you know expectations are low.
Lance Stroll, Williams ($9.1m)
The local favourite who scored his first points in F1 at his home race last year but 12 months on, Stroll still isn’t showing too many signs of progress.
Most of that is down to a Williams car which is the worst on the grid, however, in Monaco there were signs that the struggle was already getting to the 19-year-old as he vented his frustration across the radio almost all weekend. His teammate Sergey Sirotkin is even starting to get the upper hand over him so it will be interesting to see if the Canadian’s second trip home acts as inspiration or whether over exuberance will see him put it in the wall.
Top team pick: Ferrari ($28m)
Undoubtedly the team to beat this weekend, it could well only be Hamilton heroics or a slack weekend for Kimi Raikkonen that stands between the Scuderia and a potential 1-2 finish in Montreal.
Red Bull also have one hand behind their back with Ricciardo out of the picture with his grid penalties and the ongoing saga of which Max Verstappen will turn up at each race, the one that could potentially disrupt the top two or the one that has crashed at four of the six races so far.
These are our picks and preview for the Canadian Grand Prix, now all you need to do is sign up and play! Check out the Official Daily Fantasy F1 games where you can win cash prizes, entries into the $20,000 guaranteed game, a VIP trip to a Grand Prix and more. Play now.