A lot has changed in Formula 1 and the world since the last running of the Canadian Grand Prix, in 2019. The last time Formula 1 was in Canada, Sebastian Vettel was driving a Ferrari and finished first on track but second to Lewis Hamilton after a controversial time penalty. Now, Formula 1 has new technical rules, a cost cap, new drivers, new team names, and team liveries.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a 2.710-mile lap, with 13 turns, including the infamous and imitated “wall of champions,” and the chicane at turns 8&9, where Vettel earned the controversial time penalty costing him the 2019 race. The 57th running of the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be 70 laps, likely in dry conditions. However, the forecast for Saturday includes a potential for rain.
Red Bull, Ferrari, and Reliability
Red Bull has the best race car, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are both in excellent form, and (seemingly) a handle on reliability issues from early in 2022. These factors paired with Ferrari’s blunders, mistakes, and failures has given Red Bull a sizeable lead in both World Championships.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s engine customer teams—Haas and Alfa Romero—will be hoping that the reliability concerns around Ferrari’s most recent engine upgrades are addressed as soon as possible. But that reliability fix will not be implemented this weekend. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a power-sensitive circuit that should raise concerns about Ferrari’s reliability issues playing a major role in how the weekend plays out.
Oh, Canada! Formula 1’s Canadian Contingency
Formula 1 hasn’t had a legitimate Canadian challenger near the front of the grid since Jacques Villeneuve drove a Williams in the 90s and competed with Michael Schumacher for the World Championship. Canadian Formula 1 supporters will have to wait longer to have a driver at the front of the grid to support them.
Aston Martin, formerly known as Team Silverstone and Racing Point, may do the majority of the work in the United Kingdom, but the Candian Grand Prix is a “home grand prix.” Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll owns the team. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was born in Montreal and has had the Montreal Canadiens logo on his helmet at times.
Despite this being a home race, it is highly unlike the Stroll will score an impressive result in Montreal. Stroll will need an excellent weekend, a little chaos, and Aston Martin improving on their current aerodynamic philosophy to achieve a surprise result.
The End of the Road, Eh?
A Canadian driving a Williams? For a lot of Canadians, that means Jacques Villeneuve in the Adrian Newey-designed Williams of the mid-90s. This will likely be the current Canadian driver in a Williams’ only chance to race in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Nicholas Latifi has been with Williams since 2020. Latifi has spent the majority of his F1 career at the back of the grid, in a bad Williams car. Paddock rumors have Williams striking a deal for Alpine’s superstar-in-waiting reserve driver, Oscar Piastri, to drive for them in 2023.
This deal is similar to the deal that has Red Bull contract driver Alex Albon driving and performing well for Williams in 2022. Piastri is a significant step up from Latifi, and with no real options on the grid for 2023, Latifi won’t be in a seat for the 2023 season. Latifi will want to impress and have a good weekend at the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, Likely his first and last Canadian Grand Prix.
What to do about Mercedes?
Really. What to do about Mercedes? The porpoising and bouncing on the W-13 has left both Mercedes drivers in pain and openly complaining about the ride quality. There is a simple solution and a significantly more complicated solution to the Mercedes ride quality problem.
Simply put, raise the car’s ride height. Yes, this will increase drag and you will lose performance, however, adjusting the ride height is the easiest and quickest fix to the ride quality issue. Mercedes is not going to sacrifice performance. They are the 8-time defending constructors World Champions because of their pursuit of performance. So, while this is a simple solution, it’s frankly inviable for Mercedes to pursue.
The more complicated solution involves changing F1’s suspension technical rules. Making the car’s suspension less stiff will improve the ride quality of the cars and help to eliminate the short and long-term consequences of porpoising and bouncing. This is the most difficult solution, but the one that makes the most sense going forward from 2023 onward.
The FIA issued a technical directive regarding the vertical frequencies a car can endure. The metrics for testing will be determined during practice for the Canadian Grand Prix. This technical directive was issued to address the violent bouncing causing safety concerns.
For their part, Mercedes have acknowledged the severity of the problem, stating that things need to change. With Ferrari’s recent failures, combined with George Russel’s consistent and excellent season thus far, Mercedes is closing in on Ferrari for second in the constructor’s championship. What can Mercedes bring to Montreal to improve the ride quality and continue to close in on Ferrari, while not sacrificing performance?
The answer to that question is unclear. What is clear is that Mercedes is not going to sacrifice performance and, potentially, falling down the competitive order as a result.
Qualifying Betting Odds
Pick Charles Leclerc to be the fastest qualifier. In 2019, in his post-race interview, Leclerc noted that he needed to work on his qualifying form. Well, a lot has changed since 2019, included in that list is Leclerc’s qualifying performances. Stunning and electrifying are two ways to describe watching Leclerc in a one-lap shootout.
Leclerc has qualified first for 6 of the 8 races in 2022. There is valid logic behind Leclerc entering the Canadian Grand Prix as the qualifying favorite, listed as a 4/5 favorite on oddschecker.com. Verstappen and Perez’s odds are 3/1 and 4/1 respectively. Unless someone like Lando Norris (100/1) or Fernando Alonso (150/1) has a magical lap, and there isn’t a decent Red Bull or Ferrari on the track, Leclerc or the Red Bulls will likely take the poll.
Canadian Grand Prix Betting Odds
It’s going to be hard to bet against Max Verstappen in 2022. If he shows a portion of the pace he did in Baku, Verstappen might run off in the distance and lap half the field. That’s why Verstappen remains the favorite to win the Canadian Grand Prix at 10/11. Red Bull teammate Perez is listed at 4/1 Ferrari’s Leclerc is listed at 11/2, while Sainz is 16/1. Considering Ferrari’s reliability woes and recent string of mistakes and failures, I cannot condone picking a Ferrari. I‘d be more likely to pick Mercedes Russell (22/1) to win the race before picking a Ferrari.
Even though the Ferrari is the faster car and significantly more likely to win the race, there are too many issues for me to pick Ferrari to win. Once you factor in the Red Bulls, it becomes harder to pick Ferrari to win the race.
Here are our picks for the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix:
Pole Position – Charles Leclerc
Qualifying Dark Horse – Fernando Alonso
Race Winner – Max Verstappen, Second – Sergio Perez, Third – Fernando Alonso
Race Winner Dark Horse – Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly (150/1)
The 2022 Canadian Grand Prix is June 17-19, 2022, from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.