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F1 2018: 6 things we learnt from the Canadian Grand Prix

Published: 11 June 2018

► Our thoughts on the Canadian GP
► Vettel leads the championship by one point
► Verstappen doesn’t crash

After the boredom of a processional Monaco it’s fair to say we were all in need of a Canadian thrillfest at the Isle of Overtaking, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Long straights, big braking points and few fast corners means Montreal favours (Mercedes) sprinters, particularly Lewis Hamilton, who has won here six times. However, thanks to a delayed engine upgrade, the Silver Arrows were on the back foot, and all was set for an intriguing race.

Throw in a third DRS zone – new for this year – and the 2018 Canadian GP  was to be the antithesis of the last race.

Qualifying had given us a tantalising grid – Bottas a hair’s breadth behind fastest man Vettel, Max in third place with more to prove than Bruce Springsteen on Born to Run, and Hamilton displaced from the front of the grid for the first time in seven years.

But in what is already shaping up to be an unpredictable season, despite all of that the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix was something of a soggy chip (or ‘Poutine’ as the locals would say) but there were still things to take away. Here’s what we learned.

1) You cannot unwave the chequered flag

Turns out that once you wave the chequered flag, whether erroneously or not, it means the race is over. Like, properly over. Model Winnie Harlow found this out the hard way when she accidentally ended the Canadian Grand Prix two laps early with a premature wave.

Luckily race leader Sebastian Vettel had seen the mistake on the big screen so didn’t slow down. Daniel Ricciardo wasn’t so lucky - his fastest lap was null and void, with that honour going to teammate Max Verstappen.

Maybe she was trying to do us all a favour ending the race early – the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix was so boring that during lap 48 the commentators were more interested in working out which footballer they’d met during the pit walk.

2) Heartbreak Stroll

If you’re going to clock up your first DNF of the season, your home circuit is perhaps not the best place to do it. Particularly in lap one.

Still, the Quebec native provided perhaps the only drama of the race at turn five when he ran out of space and into Brendon Hartley. Both drivers were unharmed.

3) Lewis loses his cool

An early pitstop for Hamilton to sort out a cooling problem meant he was leapfrogged by Ricciardo, and failed to make up the distance before the chequered flag, leaving him a point behind Vettel in the driver’s championship.

Even when his engineer recommended setting ‘HP1’ (presumably a turn-it-up-to-eleven mode) Lewis looked adrift, and didn’t really have the place to properly challenge Ricciardo in the closing laps.

We can’t blame him though, the Englishman’s car looked all-over the place most of the weekend – and the rear in particularly had all the grip of a shopping trolley. After dominating the field in Barcelona, it seems that Mercedes – and at least HAmilton’s side of the garage – is looking for answers again

4) Alongso way to go

Canada was Fernando’s 300th Formula 1 race, putting him narrowly behind Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in the longevity stakes.

It’s tragic but maybe poignant then that his McLaren couldn’t make it to the end of the race, leaving him to pull out early. I

5) Seb’s half century

Another fact nugget for F1 stat-fans – Seb celebrated his 50th win in Montreal, putting him fourth in the list of all-time greats – only one behind Alain Prost

It was also the first time Ferrari has won in Canada since 2004 – taking their tally to 14, one win clear of reigning champs Mercedes.

6) Max-imum attack

Finally a second 2018 podium for Verstappen who ran a very mature race and finished in third – his best ever performance in Montreal.

Max has shown some serious grit this year and pulled out a decent result despite clearly being under the cosh a bit from his Red Bull bosses.

Full Canadian GP 2018 race results

Position Driver Team Engine
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault Renault
9 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda
12 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari
14 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes
 dnf Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault
 dnf Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda
dnf Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes

Read on for more details of the 2018 F1 season.

F1 2018: season guide and race calendar

Round Event Location and date
1 Australian Grand Prix
Melbourne, 23-25 March
2 Bahrain Grand Prix
Sakhir, 6-8 April
3 Chinese Grand Prix
Shanghai, 13-15 April
4 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Baku, 27-29 April
5 Spanish Grand Prix
Barcelona, 11-13 May
6 Monaco Grand Prix
Monte Carlo, 24, 26-27 May
7 Canadian Grand Prix
Montreal, 8-10 June
8 French Grand Prix
Le Castellet, 22-24 June
9 Austrian Grand Prix
Spielberg, 29 June-1 July
10 British Grand Prix
Silverstone, 6-8 July
11 German Grand Prix
Hockenheim, 20-22 July
12 Hungarian Grand Prix
Budapest, 27-29 July
13 Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps, 24-26 August
14 Italian Grand Prix
Monza, 31 August-2 September
15 Singapore Grand Prix
Marina Bay, 14-16 September
16 Russian Grand Prix
Sochi, 28-30 September
17 Japanese Grand Prix
Suzuka, 5-7 October
18 United States Grand Prix
Austin, 19-21 October*
19 Mexican Grand Prix
Mexico City, 26-28 October
20 Brazilian Grand Prix
Sao Paulo, 9-11 November
21 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Yas Marina, 23-25 November

The teams in 2018 Formula One

Mercedes-AMG F1 W09

Mercedes is looking to take its fifth straight drivers’ and constructors’ championship and right now it's hard to bet against it. Called the Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+, the new car looks a lot like last year’s W08 – apart from the addition of a Halo and the removal of the shark fin. However, that’s no surprise, as the team has said it's more of an evolution of last year’s car than anything else.

It’s no secret that last year’s Mercedes F1 car was fast, but often considered a ‘diva’ when it came to certain tracks. While it was the fastest car over the whole year, the W08 proved troublesome to set up in the first half of 2017 – and the 2018 car tries to fix most of those problems.

In testing at least, the car has looked impressive over one lap – certainly close to both Red Bull and Ferrari – and its race pace appears to be the class of the field. With Bottas now settled in, though, we're hoping for a little more intra-team rivalry in 2018. 

Ferrari SF71H

Ferrari put up a decent challenge to Mercedes for most of 2017, but towards the end of the year, reliability woes and poor decision-making cost Vettel and the Scuderia both championships.

However, the Ferrari didn’t exactly lack pace – and the 2018 car looks like a menacing step forward. Unveiled on the same day as the Mercedes, the new Ferrari features an evolution of last year’s innovative sidepod layout that has been copied by most teams this year – apart from title rivals Mercedes. In testing, Vettel seemed to grab all the headline times, and the car certainly looked fast – though it may be slightly slower than the Mercedes. While his times were good, Vettel seemed a little less enthiusiastic about his pace than the rest of the paddock – suggesting the team realises it'll need to improve. 

Ferrari are hoping to take a championship for the first time since 2007 – and this new car could still deliver that: ‘We can already see significant signs of change when it comes to the team's production capacity,’ said team president and CEO Sergio Marchionne. ‘The important thing is to start 2018 with all this expertise and experience and to manage this organisation. I have no doubt that we will be competitive.'

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14

Called the RB14, the new Red Bull will be driven by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, and represents one of earliest launches ever from the Milton Keynes-based team. Often, the team would only unveil its car on the morning of Barcelona testing.

In 2018 the Red Bull will run Tag Heuer-branded Renault engines, but will also feature Aston Martin in more prominence too.

As for Red Bull's chances for another world championship? That's hard to say right now. In 2017, the team started off slow, but towards the end of last year, its cars were regularly challenging for race wins. Fast-forward to 2018, and during testing the new RB14 has been a solid fixture in the top three. Whether or not it can bring that pace to the championship itself remains to be seen.  

McLaren-Renault MCL33

The first car of the new McLaren-Renault partnership, the MCL33 carries the hopes of double-world champion Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

The car also comes with great expectations, because for the last few years McLaren have claimed to have a great chassis, but one let down by an underpowered Honda engine. For the last few seasons we’ve seen the Renault do great things in the back of a Red Bull, and that means there’ll be no excuse for McLaren this year. Due to a lack of sponsors, McLaren had the scope to listen to fans and bring back a classic Papaya orange livery – and it looks fantastic. If anything, the new design apes that of Alonso’s Indycar last year, and that’s no bad thing.

Testing hasn't been great for McLaren, with the MCL33 causing several stoppages. However, although reliability may have looked poor compared to the rest of the teams, it's a massive step up from the year before. What's more, the McLaren appears to have pace, for the first time in about five years.

Williams Martini Racing FW41

Williams has unveiled its new car, and it looks pretty special. The first car designed with significant input from new technical officer Paddy Lowe, Williams' 2018 car borrows a lot from both the Ferrari and Mercedes cars we saw last year.

Interestingly, the FW41's livery features a white and black trim, with the darker areas helping to obscure much of the new technology and features on the car. Testing showed that Williams look to be in the thick of the midfield battle. 

Haas F1 VF18

This year the Haas F1 team once again shares resources with Ferrari, and features a driver line-up of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. The new car did look impressive enough to be involved in F1's mega-midfield battle, but now appears to be slightly ahead of the midfield back and the fourth fastest team.

Toro-Rosso Honda

Toro-Rosso have lost two drivers but gained an engine supplier. This year’s all-new line up features Pierre Gasly and endurance-racer Brendon Hartley – but it’s the engine in this car that everyone is talking about.

After three terrible years with McLaren, Honda has moved to supply engines for Toro-Rosso, and in testing nothing has happened. That's right, the Honda in the back of the Toro Rosso has had no problems whatsoever, and new reports suggest it's not that much down on compared to the Honda from last year. In fact, Toro Rosso says its working relationship with Honda is much better than that of Renault, and it'll be looking to use that new relatiosnhip to the fullest in 2019. Either way, the Toro Rosso is once again a neat and tidy car, and could suprise some people in 2018. 

As for its Honda engine? If all goes well, it’s possible the 'A-team' of Red Bull will follow Toro Rosso to Honda, too.

Sahara Force India VJM11

After several clashes last year, Sebastian Ocon and Checo Perez join forces once again, in the new Force India car. 2017 was a relatively good year for the team. And it’d be hoping to do the same, or better, this year. After a huge update with some interesting features, the Sahara Force India may head towards the top of the midfield – especially when you factor in its Mercedes PU. 

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team

Although the new car is powered by a current-year Ferrari engine, the 2018 Sauber cars will take on the Alfa Romeo name. The Sauber will race in a dashing red-and-white livery, but there are other interesting aspects to the car, too. The C37, to use its codename, is one of the first cars that appears to take full advantage of the aerodynamic rules around the Halo device.

This year, teams have a small amount of aerodynamic leeway to reduce the impact of the safety device. Sauber’s C37 features a small gap designed to condition and divert airflow once it leaves the Halo device. The 2018 Sauber will be driven by Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.

Renault Sport Formula One team

This year Renault hopes to see its increased investment make even more of an impact, and with the impressive Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg behind the wheel, there’s a good chance it’ll see better results. Like last year, the R.S.18 features a black and yellow livery, and there are several interesting features on teh car – including an exhaust blown rear wing. After poor funding and a medicore driver line-up, Renault is hoping to turn a corner in 2018, and it looks like it has everything in place to do so. 

F1 2018: rule changes

This year’s cars will look pretty much the same as last year’s with the caveat of two small changes: shark fins (the large boards attached to the car’s engine covers) are gone for this year, and the controversial new Halo system will be installed to every racer in 2018, too.

The engine rules aren’t that different to last year’s with the only difference being the amount of engines the teams can use throughout the season. Last year, drivers had an allocation of four power units each per season, and now that’s been reduced to just three.

It’s a move that was originally designed to save money, but according to Mercedes’ engine boss Andy Cowell, it’s meant the development of an all-new engine, and the construction of up to 100 possible test units.

‘It's crazy,' Cowell told Italy's Corriere dello Sport, 'because the manufacturers will have to virtually redo many parts. We will build at least 80 to 100 engines and then test them on the bench and take the three or four that have the best reliability and power characteristics. That's a huge cost that the manufacturers will not be able to recover.’

F1 2018: what is the Halo?

Brought in to reduce the risk of head injuries after incidents involving Jules Bianchi and before that, Felippe Massa, the Halo device is essentially a metal ring that floats above the driver’s head – hopefully protecting them from flying debris after an impact.

Although it’s not been favoured by fans, teams or drivers, the FIA forced the new safety system through late last year, and that means it’ll be present on every car on the grid from the first race of 2018. 

However, despite F1 shooting for a new, fan-friendly image, it’s actually revealed nothing about what the Halo is, how it works and the rules and challenges around it. Instead, Mercedes and its new technical director James Allison have explained everything you need to know about the new Halo system.

According to Allison, the relatively late decision to include the system in 2018 has resulted in a serious challenge for teams, with the weight of the titanium device proving to be an issue. Teams have also had to strengthen the chassis of the car to make sure the Halo can withstand the weight of a double-decker bus.

Finally, Allison explains that the Halo can be modified for aero reasons, with each team using a fairing to reduce the wake of the device, and hopefully stop it interfering with the aero surfaces on the rest of the car – as well as the engine air intake.

By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk