Wolff: Canada ‘a huge challenge’ that could favour Ferrari
Following their sixth straight win of the year in Monaco, Mercedes are just seven points off having had a perfect 2019 so far. But before the action begins at the Canadian Grand Prix, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has sounded a note of warning about the Silver Arrows’ chances at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, believing that the track’s characteristics could hand the advantage to their rivals.
While Mercedes’ W10 has won this year on tracks as diverse as China and Monaco, the car’s particular strength lies in its cornering ability, boasting downforce levels that Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly has previously called “scary”. But with Montreal predominantly made up of high-speed straights connected by slower-speed corners, there appears to be some anxiety in Wolff ahead of the race that the Silver Arrows’ 2019 streak might come to an end this weekend.
Montreal’s track characteristics could favour our opponents – there are many long straights, and fewer corners in which to make up lap time
“We are beginning to see more clearly the strengths and weaknesses of our car,” he said. “In the past six races, we were very strong in the corners but lost time on the straights. This will make Canada a huge challenge for us, as the track characteristics could favour our opponents – there are many long straights, and fewer corners in which to make up lap time. But we're looking forward to the challenge.”
Without calling them out directly, Wolff was clearly referring to Ferrari, who are believed to have an undisputed horsepower advantage which, in Bahrain for example, was reportedly worth a full half a second per lap on the straights. Perhaps in anticipation of that, Lewis Hamilton hinted at the Monaco Grand Prix that Mercedes would bring their first engine upgrade of the season to Canada, in an attempt to close down the power deficit to Ferrari.
“I think we will probably have a new engine by the next race,” said Hamilton. “So the car will continue to move forwards, as we will.”
Last season’s Canadian Grand Prix saw Ferrari unseat three years of Mercedes dominance in Montreal, as Sebastian Vettel took his third victory of 2018. But with the Scuderia on the back foot after a win-less 2019 so far, and Lewis Hamilton doubtless hungry to take a record-equalling seventh win at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, this year’s event is poised to be a fascinating contest.