How the landscape has changed for Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes since we last visited Montreal in 2019


Formula 1 returns to Canada for the first time in three years, and it couldn’t come at a better time for Ferrari, whose championship challenge finds itself in a skid that is spiraling out of control.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been a happy hunting ground for the Scuderia, the red team crossing the line first in each of the last two editions, albeit with an infamous twist in 2019 race history, and oh how they would desperately love it! to continue that streak this weekend.

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Three races into the season, Ferrari was flying high at the top of the constructors’ championship, 49 points clear of Red Bull, with Charles Leclerc 44 clear at the top of the drivers’ standings. But then it went downhill, and fast.

In the next five races, Ferrari scored just 59 points. Leclerc dropped out of the lead in two of the last three races and saw a negative 80-point swing to Verstappen, leaving him 34 adrift of the reigning world champion.

Verstappen extends his lead over Leclerc in the drivers’ championship

His teammate, Carlos Sainz, has been in impressive form. He has been the first to retire in three of the last six Grands Prix, with a streak of 31 consecutive race finishes, and the only driver to qualify in all races in 2021.

They’ll be hoping to turn the page in Canada, where at least the new rear wing they introduced in Baku should, says boss Mattia Binotto, help them reduce their straight-line speed deficit to Red Bull, which should be of particular benefit in Montreal given the track features.

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They have a short-term fix after examining hydraulic components that failed on Sainz’s car in Baku, while examinations started on Leclerc’s engine, which failed and arrived in Maranello on Wednesday.

His priority will be to get two cars to the finish after suffering his first double mechanical retirement in almost 25 years (since the 1997 British Grand Prix) and to score well to ensure some stability.

Their qualifying form has been immense, with Leclerc taking pole in each of the last four races, but on Sunday afternoons they drop back relative to Red Bull. We’ve seen in the data that their long-run pace based on Friday’s race has been better than Red Bull’s in three of the last four races (Spain was behind), but that hasn’t translated to Grands Prix.


Sainz will want to start a solid streak in Montreal after a handful of retirements

Meanwhile, Red Bull is in remarkable shape. They have won each of the last five races and are now one-two in the drivers’ championship for the first time since the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix more than a decade ago. They were 47 points behind Ferrari ahead of Imola. They now lead by 80, on a staggering five-race, 127-point streak.

LOOK: The Canadian Grand Prix 2019: relive the last race in Montreal

Verstappen still isn’t comfortable with the RB18, particularly in qualifying, but he made up for it on Sunday afternoon, capitalizing on the team’s superior race pace, tire handling and straight-line speed to battle for four race wins. five. He imagines what it will be like once he is aware of his problems from a turn…

He is also being pushed hard by teammate Sergio Perez, the Mexican who has finished in the top two in each of the last three races, and five times this year. He is driving at the highest level in its history, having quickly unlocked the potential of the new generation of cars, and it is that speed and consistency that is making Red Bull the favorites for its first constructors’ championship since 2013.


Perez has quickly gotten into the groove with the RB18

Their rivals Mercedes have also had some consistency, particularly with George Russell, who has finished every race this year in the top five, but they still don’t have a car capable of contending for race wins or even podium finishes (if the Red finish). bulls and Ferraris).

They continue to be hampered by rebounds, with their director of motorsport strategy James Vowles admitting this week that the team had taken their setup direction to the extreme in Baku, pushing “the pack and our drivers too far” in pursuit of the performance.

READ MORE: Mercedes admits they took their ‘package and our drivers too far’ in Baku as they predict improved pace from Montreal

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is anticipated to be another challenging event for the reigning world champions, before we get to quieter tracks like Silverstone. However, the team hopes that their qualifying deficit will not be as high as it was in Baku (1.3s).

Plenty of stories, then, to dig into this weekend at the sharp end of the field, and that’s not to mention an extraordinarily tight midfield, which has seen changes in performance between teams from track to track. Who will finish better than the rest this weekend?