Canadian Grand Prix: Ferrari pegged back by resurgent Mercedes

at Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Montreal, Canada, Saturday 10 June 2017.


If Monaco was the race in which everything went right for Ferrari, the Canadian Grand Prix was the exact opposite.

Arriving in Montreal on a high after a 1-2 in Vettel’s favour with Hamilton only seventh in the principality, the Scuderia were confident that they could repeat their form in North America.

Second and fourth for Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying put a damp towel on those expectations, but it was just the start of a frustrating weekend.

At the start, Verstappen’s jet-propelled Red Bull got ahead of and subsequently hit Vettel’s front wing as Sainz and Massa collided to bring the Safety Car out.

Vettel’s front wing was badly damaged with debris hitting his floor also hampering him for the race.

The German elected to pit two laps after the Safety Car period on lap 5, and bolted on the supersoft tyres. He emerged down in 17th position. Meanwhile, Raikkonen ran wide at turn seven and lost out to Perez.

At the front Mercedes were comfortable, Hamilton and Bottas pulling away after the retirement of second placed Max Verstappen with battery failure on lap 11.

This was just the tonic for a poor Monaco Grand Prix.

Vettel’s determined drive earned him fourth place eventually after some masterful overtaking including a move on the inside of Esteban Ocon as he attacked Force India teammate Sergio Perez with five laps to go.

That result represents something of a save, as Hamilton took 13 points out of Vettel as opposed to the 19 Vettel took off the Brit in Monaco.

Raikkonen meanwhile had to limp home to seventh, after his brakes wore out towards the end. The Iceman was a little hot under the collar after an off at the final chicane, but held off the charging Nico Hulkenberg.

Formula One’s second visit to Azerbaijan in two weeks looks set to follow the rest of the season in being on a knife edge.

Jack Prentice

Image Credit: Pirelli Media

Lewis Hamilton, the Defender of the Castle Black


Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Friday 09 June 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY2825

As the day of the new Game of Throne season is closing, I couldn’t think of a better title for this article. Lewis Hamilton this season is like the defenders of the Castle Black, he is fighting to hold the castle from Sebastian Vettel and from Ferrari.

On Sunday in Montreal, the Brit, avoided the wall of champions and defended his own wall, the wall of the world champion. A great weekend for Hamilton as he took the pole position and lead the race from the begging to the end, drove seventy laps, made zero mistakes and secured Mercedes’ first 1-2 of the season after seven races.

Valtteri Bottas finished behind his team-mate, but I’m not sure if he could achieve that if Max Verstappen didn’t have to retire due to a mechanical problem at the first laps of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo was the third man on the podium, a good race for the Australian, who once again finished on the podium and scored some points for Red Bull.

After an amazing recovery, Sebastian Vettel, who started second, finished fourth. The German, had to pit because his front wing was damaged after a collision between him and Max Verstappen at the opening lap. Verstappen had a good start and jumped from fifth up to second, but on his way up his left-rear wheel collided with Vettel’s front wing and that caused problems to Vettel.

The safety car was deployed on the first lap of the race after a collision between Carlos Sainz Jr. and Romain Grosjean. Sainz had a contact with Grosjean after the straight on turn 2, Carlos lost the control of his car and crashed on Massa’s car. Both walked away unharmed, but they had to retire and Romain pitted for a new front wing.

When the safety car returned into the pits, Hamilton defended his place from Verstappen and that was the only time in which the Brit had to do that. When Verstappen retired, Hamilton increased his lead to his competitors and had an easy evening in Montreal.

Scuderia Ferrari altered their strategy and from one-stop strategy they decided to go for a two stop strategy which gave an advantage to Sebastian Vettel during the final laps of the race. The German was unstoppable during the final part of the Grand Prix and after some flying laps he overtook his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and also passed the two Force Indias which were unable to defend their positions.

Nice drive from the four-time champion, who showed how strong he is this year and how much he wants to win his fifth world title and first with Ferrari.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Sunday 11 June 2017.
World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _O3I0168

Driver of the Day

Many said Vettel, but I am between Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll. Ocon managed to control his tyres during the race and before his first pit stop, he was second behind Lewis Hamilton, both pitted on the same lap. In Canada, Esteban was better than his team-mate, but he didn’t want to risk a move on Perez, so he finished sixth behind him.

Lance Stroll scored his first points as an F1 driver in his home race and became the second youngest driver who scores points in Formula One. The Canadian, had a good race and especially compared to his previous results this time the young driver was outstanding.

Once again McLaren- Honda was a disappointment. Fernando Alonso had a good race and he was in the top-10 but an engine problem in the penultimate lap forced him to retire. The Spaniard wanted to enjoy the weather and he decided to climb in the grandstands to meet his fans.

Lewis Hamilton, with his victory, remained close to Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship, just 12 points behind his main rival. Mercedes, passed Ferrari in the constructors’ championship and they are leading by eight points.

Victor Archakis F1 Editor – @FP_Passion


Images Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

Canadian Grand Prix: Marks out of Ten


Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Sunday 11 June 2017.
World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _O3I0085

Lewis Hamilton once again ruled the roost at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on the Ille De Notre Dame in the St Lawrence Seaway in Montreal is a highlight of the Formula 1 season, a break between the European rounds. Known as a power reliant track compared to the prior rounds at Spain & Monaco the pecking order was shuffled slightly. We analyse each driver’s race in the simplest way we can, through marks out of ten.

Lewis Hamilton – 9

Ten years on since his maiden win in F1, Hamilton once more sees the top step of the podium. Montreal is a happy hunting ground for the Brit – this is his sixth time winning in Canada. He destroyed his teammate in qualifying by 0.7secs and matched his icon Ayrton Senna’s pole total of 65. It was a weekend that he needed, the hat-trick, pole, lights to flag and fastest lap. He kept the action kept behind him and caught up in the championship as we head to Baku.

Valteri Bottas – 7

The first 1-2 of the 2017 campaign for Mercedes, signs of the previous three seasons, but with Bottas all the challengers fell by the wayside. A poor qualifying from the Finn, a quite considerable gap of 0.4secs from the front row. He was helped by Ferrari’s issues as he took a comfortable second place. A solid result from the Finn but once more in the shadow of his teammate Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo – 8

The Honeybadger made it three podiums in a row, taking advantage of other drivers and using a unique strategy of running softs on the second stint rather than the super softs. He struggled early in the weekend with car trouble, and missed most of free practice two. The most important factor was his quick out lap which managed to keep Perez in the Force India at bay. We got to see a shooey to the delight of the Canadian fans – even getting Sir Patrick Stewart himself to partake in the ritual.

Max Verstappen – 8

Verstappen looked for all the world as if he could split the Mercedes after a blistering start, clipping Vettel’s wings especially. His race ended only ten laps in after an ERS failure and battery shutdown, the Ducthman visibly angry at his misfortune. Red Bull look as if they’ve made a step forward.

Sebastian Vettel – 9

Excellent recovery drive after contact damaged his front wing. Dropped to last after repairs, and a despite a damaged floor came from 16th to 4th. The four-time champion provided entertainment in the final twenty laps, limiting the damage to his championship lead to 13 points.

Raikkonen 7: A poor start saw Kimi stuck behind Perez and Ricciardo early on, the Iceman came alive when Ferrari switched the strategy to a two-stop. Unfortunate with brake failure but did well to preserve seventh from a difficult position with ten laps to go.

Sergio Perez – 8

Perez will not have won himself many French fans as he kept a faster Esteban Ocon behind him in the race-long battle for a podium position with Ricciardo. Perez will have his reasons, while Force India showed their car to be strong once again this season.

Esteban Ocon – 9

Showed a good temperament during the race and kept his head despite losing out to Vettel late on. His tyres were fresher at the end of the Grand Prix as Force India kept him out for a longer first stint, and wanted to have a go at the podium, but Perez refused to let him by.

Nico Hulkenburg – 7

The reliable Nico Hulkenburg scores points again after taking a gamble early on with the virtual safety car switching the strategy that they more than likely had planned. Renault are still not where they want to be and with this in mind it was a solid job all weekend. Almost caught the ailing Raikkonen at the end.

Jolyon Palmer – 6

This is the second successive race that the Brit has finished just outside the points after 11th in Monaco last time out. He’s faced constant speculation about his future after Hulkenberg’s excellent start at Renault. A man under pressure, he will be heartened by the step forward made in Montreal.

Lance Stroll – 8

The Canadian rookie got the monkey off his back as ninth place secured his first world championship points, at his home race. He is the first non-Villeneuve Canadian to score points in F1. After struggling in qualifying, Stroll executed a one-stop strategy well and we may now see the tension that he’s driven with all season loosened for the rest of the year.

Felipe Massa – 5

Massa was pole-axed by a pirouetting Carlos Sainz on lap one after being boxed in at the start. A good qualifying saw the Brazilian take seventh, and with power circuits such as Baku and the Red Bull Ring coming up, Williams can be confident of further points.

Romain Grosjean – 7

Grosjean managed to snatch a point from the jaws of nothing. The Swiss-Frenchman was chopped by Sainz on lap one to spark a safety car as the Spaniard was speared into an unsuspecting Felipe Massa. Picking up the pieces from Alonso’s engine failure on the penultimate lap, Haas’ weekend was rescued.

Kevin Magnussen – 5

A weekend to forget for Magnussen. He tried to be opportunistic at the end of the virtual safety car by pouncing on Stoffel Vandoorne, but timed his jump too early and earning himself a penalty. Failed to get out of the first qualifying session as both Haas’ struggled for pace through the weekend/

Marcus Ericsson – 6

This was always going to be a case of rolling treacle up a hill for Sauber. An underpowered old Ferrari engine was always going to suffer on a circuit where top speed is crucial. Sauber will be stronger on other circuits.

Pascal Wehrlein – 5

Wehrlein did himself few favours when he spun in qualifying, breaking his rear wing and gearbox. The German’s only route to points this weekend was going to be a Safety Car strategy call as in Barcelona, but it didn’t materialise for the ex-Manor man.

Stoffel Vandoorne – 6

Stoffel Vandoorne was another man on a hiding to nothing this weekend, with his Honda engine severely lacking in power. McLaren will hope improved results come on more twisty circuits.

Fernando Alonso – 8

Alonso had tigerishly fought his way up to ninth place until the penultimate lap, when his engine expired in a familiar tale of woe for the former double World Champion. The Spaniard still found time to vent his feelings about his engine during the race at a weekend in which he demanded McLaren show that they could win races by September. That looks well off.

Danil Kyvat – 5

Failed to get away for the formation lap and couldn’t get back into position. As a result received a drive through penalty. The Russian managed to fight his way back up to tenth but damage ended his day. Another chapter in a frustrating season for Kvyat.

Carlos Sainz – 5

His race lasted a matter of half a mile before his squeeze on an unco-operative Grosjean sent him to the wall, via the Williams of Massa. At a circuit where Toro Rosso were expected to struggle, he showed solid pace until Sunday.

Chris Lord & Jack Prentice

Image Credit: Steven Tee via PIRELLI MEDIA

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is preparing to host its 39th Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, a 4.3km-long track that features the infamous Wall of Champions – which has claimed the pride, and carbon fibre, of several drivers over the years, including names such as Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and 2017 championship points leader Sebastian Vettel.

The 70-lap race often boasts excitement, not only the dramatic encounters as you enter the pit straight, a number of on-lap overtakes and manoeuvres due to the high-speed nature alongside low asphalt grip.

Ultrasoft tyres will be the preferred option in the dry this weekend, with all four title contenders holding at least eight sets of the purple-walled rubber due to the low degradation expected, meaning a split-second mistake on the usual two-stop strategy could make all the difference.

Mercedes and Ferrari will be the ones expected to top the timesheets come Sunday, with the tarmac ribbon situated on the Notre Dame Island in Montreal favouring those with higher-power over aerodynamics. Bad news for the returning Fernando Alonso. At least he won’t have any penalties to walk into this weekend unlike his part-time replacement Jenson Button last time out in Monaco.

However, one target for the rest of the field to aim for will be Rubens Barrichello’s current race lap record around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve of 1:13.662, which the Brazilian set back in 2004.

Whether it be a Silver Arrow or Italian Stallion standing aloft on the podium come the end of Sunday afternoon, it will undoubtedly provide thrills and spills and disperse crucial points in the race for the Drivers’ Championship.

By Joe Owens

Image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Will we see another name added to the Wall of Champions?

2014 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 6th – 8th June 2014
Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW36 Mercedes, Action,
World Copyright: © Andrew Hone Photographer 2014.
Ref: _ONZ1071 / via Pirelli Media

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve based on Montreal’s Notre Dame Island is a stunning track. The track has the right balance of slow- to high-speed areas that creates some spectacular racing.

There is one infamous part of the track which legends such as the great Michael Schumacher have hit—they call it the ‘Wall of Champions’. After the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix the wall on the exit of Turn 14 was christened most notably with three world champions. Drivers had hit the wall prior, but 1999 was when it was especially unforgiving.


Many drivers—or shall we say victims—had fallen prey to The Wall especially this year, but it all began with Damon Hill, he was the first notable casualty, after winning the World Championship in 1996. Now driving with Jordan he was amongst a midfield battle, and he clipped the rear of his car against The Wall—you could say he was an appetiser for it.

15 laps later Michael Schumacher mid-chicane lost control after going off the racing line, and slid helplessly into The Wall’s grasp; at the time the German was leading the Grand Prix. The difference here was that Hill managed to get away, but Schumacher & Ferrari could not, with severe damage caused. The main course? The Wall was not done there, it wanted more!

Canada’s own Jaques Villeneuve was the third champion into The Wall, only 5 laps after Schumacher, pretty much nose on, it was getting more and more of the cars at every attempt! The Wall after that had had enough, was full and had its fair share of rubber across it. Villeneuve was the dessert of The Wall’s three-car meal in 1999. From then on it was named the Wall of Champions.

Recent Years:

The Wall laid low for a few years, claiming the odd driver here and there—on a diet, you could say, but when it saw an opportunity it was more than happy to take full advantage.

The rise, then fall, of Jenson Button at the 2005 Canadian Grand Prix, for example. He took pole position in qualifying, and then threw it away in the race when Schumacher was chasing him for third. He attacked the chicane but as a result broke his rear suspension: The Wall was ready for a taste of BAR, though much like Hill he managed to escape The Wall’s grasp.

The most recent major casualty was in 2011, where we had the most incredible race that Button won. Funnily enough it was the complete opposite with Button rising to the top from the bottom.

The Wall did not devour anyone during the race, as it was still buzzing from the first practice session. Sebastien Vettel lost his rear on a very green track, and over the kerbs he headed straight towards The Wall. So early on in the weekend, Vettel could not escape, and it ended his session with The Wall covered with fresh carbon fibre and rubber, whilst leaving the Red Bull team a major headache to get his car ready for FP2.

Other notable mentions:

– Ricardo Zonta, a champion in the FIA GT series, was actually the first to hit The Wall in the 1999 Grand Prix.

– Juan Pablo Montoya—the 1999 CART and two-time Indy 500 champion—in what turned out to be his penultimate Grand Prix, did brush The Wall in 2006 resulting in retirement. Could this have been the catalyst for what ensued in the following US Grand Prix, resulting in an early Formula 1 departure?

Will there be another one this year though? It’s been a few years since The Wall last had a tasty meal. Could an F1 champion such as Hamilton or future champion Max Verstappen join the ever-growing list of victims claimed by the Wall of Champions? The cars seem to suffer more in dirty air this year, and Canada always has been a tough track on brakes. The recipe is there for The Wall to claim another driver.

Chris Lord, F1 Correspondent

Canadian Grand Prix Preview, 9-11June

GP CANADA F1/2016 – MONTREAL 12/06/16


Montreal is getting ready to host the Canadian Grand Prix, one of the most famous and historic tracks in Formula 1. In 1977, Giles Villeneuve inspired the French Canadians and they decided to design and construct an F1 circuit.

In their mind was the famous quote “simplicity is the best”, so their idea was to take the lle Notre-Dame, and connect all the roads around the island. It took them less than a year and about $2m to build and upgrade the track to meet Formula One’s standards, the first race was held in 1978.

No one could imagine a better debut for the track, Gilles Villeneuve on his debut season with Ferrari won the first Canadian Grand Prix, but the track was marked by Villeneuve’s death in 1982 and renamed in his honor.

Michael Schumacher holds the record of seven victories in Canada, whilst McLaren have won the race for thirteen times.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Laps: 70

Circuit Length: 4.361 km

Race Distance: 305.27 km

Lap Record: 1:13.622 (Rubens Barrichello – 2004)

Tyre Allocations: Ultrasoft (Purple), Supersoft (Red), Soft (Yellow)

Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

The drivers will aim to warm up their front tyres properly, because that is the key to a quick lap in Montreal, especially during the qualifying session. The circuit’s format affects the brakes and the tyres, and that is because the track applies longitudinal forces rather than lateral forces. Finally, this year’s cars are much faster than last year’s, which means that the lap record is in danger and it might be broken this weekend.

Last season Lewis Hamilton lead the race from the start to the end as the Brit took the pole position and remained first till the chequered flag followed by Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. Nico Rosberg, qualified second but finished fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and behind Max Verstappen.

This year Ferrari will try to build their own wall of champions, a wall which will allow them to remain first in the constructors’ championship and give the advantage to Vettel to increase his lead from its competitors.

The question is if Scuderia will manage to finish once again in the front row and secure the second 1-2 of the season.

Victor Archakis F1 Editor – @FP_Passion

Monaco Grand Prix: two shots of happy, one shot of sad

Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Thursday 25 May 2017.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONZ8912  courtesy of Pirelli Media

What an ordinary Grand Prix in Monaco we saw on Sunday! Ferrari took all the stakes. Everything they could win in the Casino of Monte Carlo, they won. A fantastic Sebastian Vettel, even losing the pole position, was able to overtake the great Kimi Raikkonen, who grabbed the pole but wasn’t able to keep the fury of Seb behind him.

Valtteri Bottas tried too, but this year Ferrari is a title challenger, strong in every race. And without an unlucky Lewis Hamilton, things were surely easier for Italian squad. They have to thank Stoffel Vandoorne, who showed he is still young to feel the pressure of Monaco’s corners, for crashing twice: once in qualifying (and causing the end of the Q2 for Lewis Hamilton trying to improve his time) and once in the race, ending in inglorious fashion McLaren’s Grand Prix. But even if Lewis could have made it into Q3, we really don’t know if he could have battled with Ferrari on Sunday.

Behind Ferrari a superb Daniel Ricciardo grabbed a fantastic third place, despite many saying his performance was going down lately. No way! I’ve always thought Daniel is a great race driver and he hasn’t lost his talent. And it’s always so good to see his endless smile on the podium! And with Carlos Sainz finishing in sixth position, I think these two are the drivers of the day. Carlos showed how good Toro Rosso is in this moment and his own performance is remarkable considering the difficulty of a circuit like Monaco.

In the end, let me spend some words for Jenson Button. I was absolutely surprised looking at his performance in qualifying. He never tried the car before, only some laps in the simulator. And with wider tyres and new regulations he got in the car and learned immediately how to go fast! He is still a champion.

But the sad thing to face was that stupid penalty. After having qualified ninth, Jenson had to start from the pit lane because of new power unit parts. So, a race ruined from the start, in a circuit where is almost impossible to overtake. And after a frustrating part of the race spent behind Pascal Wehrlein, he finally tried to pass but Monte Carlo said no, you can’t. And, as a result, we saw a spectacular and scary accident with no consequences for poor Pascal and a retirement for Jenson too.

So, while Ferrari went to win the race, with two shots of happy, McLaren went to lose again with one shot of sad. Courtesy of Bono Vox…

Massimo Trapanese, F1 correspondent

Monaco In Verse

It’s the Monco Grand Prix, the grandest of the races on the calendar. Let us take a lyrical lap.

The Lights Go Out, The Tyres Burn

Sainte-Devote The Very First Turn
Is There A Crash, How Many Cars?
Your Safely Through To Beau Rivage

Inches From The Barrier At Massenet

The Cars They Jostle, Positions Are Set

Into Casino A Sweeping Curve

Mirabeau Next Will They Hold Their Nerve

Slow Right Down Approach The Hairpin

Grand Hotel Spectators Shout And Sing

Its Portier Next As They Enter The Tunnel

Heading For Novelle, Into The Chicane They Will Funnel

Sweep Round The Harbour Through Tabac

Then Louis Chiron, There’s No Turning Back

The Swimming Pool Section, No Time For A Dip

They’d Better Slow Down, Thats My Only Tip

Because It’s Rascasse Next, The Cars They Slow

Then Its Off Through Noghes And Off They Go

Through The Grid For Another Lap

As The Crowds They Scream, They Cheer, They Clap

This Is Monaco Full Of Glamour And Speed

These F1 Legends Are Brave Indeed

The Barriers So Daunting And The Crowd So Near

Negotiating The Streets, Drivers With No Fear

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Monaco Track Preview

Image courtesy of Red Bull Racing

The winding streets of Monaco are preparing to host their 75th Grand Prix this weekend, and what a track it is.

The picturesque circuit, stretching over 3.337 kilometres and consisting of 19 mostly low-speed corners and a flat-out tunnel, is Formula 1’s contribution to the infamous Triple Crown of Motorsport, and has featured some of the sport’s most notorious victors.

None more so than the man who holds the most wins around the circuit, the great Ayrton Senna.

The Brazilian claimed six victories in Monaco during his decade-long career, and potentially could have secured a seventh if it were not for Le Mans royalty Jacky Ickx, who red-flagged the rain-sodden 1984 race without consulting fellow track stewards, allowing Senna’s arch-rival Alain Prost to pick up a half-points win on lap 27.

Senna’s half-dozen Monte Carlo victories went some way to secure McLaren’s dominance over the iconic track.

The Honda-powered team currently leads the way in terms of constructors wins with fifteen, six ahead of nearest chasers Ferrari, however it is highly unlikely McLaren will extend that number this weekend even though the circuit will not punish their lack of power as much as others on this year’s race calendar.

It will in fact most likely be the Driver’s Championship contenders Sebastian Vettel and two-time winner Lewis Hamilton, who currently holds the record for the fastest ever lap set around the track—a 1:17.939s achieved last year—that will be contesting for number one spot come the end of the 78-lap race.

Red Bull can possibly expect to mount a challenge if their set-up, which has hindered them on several occasions so far this year, is correct—with maximum emphasis on downforce this weekend due to low tyre wear.

As potentially should have been witnessed during the Spanish Grand Prix a fortnight ago, Monaco will see the return of the red and purple-striped Pirelli P Zero—an appearance that will please drivers following their frustration with the manufacturer after the conservative decision in Barcelona to run soft and medium compounds.

No matter what it will surely be another thrilling instalment of the Monaco Grand Prix, which will celebrate hosting the race for three quarters of a century on Sunday.

With just four points between both Vettel and Hamilton at the top of the driver’s standings, it is sure to provide another twist in the tale for the 2017 World Championship.

By Joe Owens, F1 Correspondent


Ferrari have a chance to write the Monte Carlo script

Image Credit: Zak Meuger/LAT/Pirelli Media

How fitting that Formula One heads to Monaco around the time of Cannes Film Festival just mere miles from the principality.

As with Cannes and the film industry, the Monaco Grand Prix is arguably the most glamorous setting for F1’s main characters to produce another masterpiece such as those celebrated in Cannes..

And boy, have Ferrari given us something to get us out of our seats this season.

Where in the previous years of the turbo era Mercedes could walk off into the distance, the Prancing Horse have had something of a revival.

Each of the five races in 2017 have been filled with enough intrigue to get even the judges at Cannes out of their seats, and like all good films, the ending has often been difficult to predict.

Indeed, despite Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton winning the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago, Ferrari can arrive in Monte Carlo in confident mood once more.

Pitting under a Virtual Safety Car brought out by Stoffel Vandoorne aided Hamilton no end, as his Mercedes on faster tyres and having taken six seconds out of Vettel meant a lot of the hunting was done for the Brit.

The Silver Arrows were said to have brought a raft of upgrades compared to the developments made by Ferrari, yet Hamilton qualified just half a tenth quicker after a promising start to the weekend.

With Vettel taking the lead at the start, Hamilton and Bottas weren’t exactly all over the German four-time champion like a cheap suit.

Once he did get ahead, Hamilton did not simply gallop away into the distance and Ferrari still harboured hopes of a win until the final eight laps.

Both Ferrari drivers have stood atop of the podium in Monte Carlo before, with Vettel taking the honours in a crazy 2011 race and Kimi Raikkonen in scintillating form for McLaren back in 2005.

However, you have to go back to 2001 for the last time the Scuderia won in Monaco, courtesy of Michael Schumacher.

This season represents one of their best chances to end that drought, and around the casinos of Monte Carlo, their ability to nurse tyres may prove to be their trump card.

With it confirmed that Ferrari are in the title fight for the long haul, they have another chance to provide their own plot twist this weekend.

Jack Prentice @JPrentice8


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