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Canadian GP: Engine upgrade expected as Mercedes seek to remain undefeated

Lewis Hamilton expects Mercedes to have an engine upgrade for Canada, in a weekend which could see him tie Michael Schumacher’s record of seven victories around Montreal.

Already with a 17-point championship lead, Hamilton returns to the place which witnessed his maiden F1 victory, in which five then subsequently followed his 2007 win.

Record breaking has seemingly become a weekly occurrence for the five-time World Champion.

However, in 2018 Sebastian Vettel ended a run of three consecutive Canadian victories for Hamilton, as he also leapfrogged his rival in the championship by one point, at the time.

But a lot can change in 12 months.

After 6 rounds in 2018, Hamilton led Vettel by 14 points to then be trailing after Canada but, fast-forward a year and the Mercedes driver now leads the Ferrari by 38, with no chance of their championship positions changing this time around.

And with an engine upgrade expected, it is quite likely that lead will only increase especially considering the form of Hamilton in Canada, but also that of his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas.

Four consecutive podiums and a tremendous P3 in 2013 qualifying whilst driving an uncompetitive Williams, potentially places him as Hamilton’s closest rival this weekend, especially with this engine upgrade.

“I think we will probably have a new engine by the next race, so the car will continue to move forwards, as we will”, Hamilton said.

A quote which may worry the rest of the grid, because one may think they couldn’t possibly improve on their performances in 2019, yet Mercedes and Hamilton seem adamant that they can do.

However, Canada does possess very long straights.

Something that could play into Ferrari’s hands considering their speed on straights and Vettel’s Montreal form.

Although, one must never rule out the Red Bull and Max Verstappen, somebody whom many suggest is driver of the year thus far in 2019.

The midfield

Renault’s performance in 2019 has been very underwhelming, but Canada this weekend could be the perfect place to re-discover their form and get back to an upward trajectory.

Both their drivers are very strong at the track, which should possibly see them lead the midfield this race.

Daniel Ricciardo claimed his maiden F1 victory around Canada in 2014, with a second podium in 2017, whilst Nico Hulkenberg is yet to finish lower than eighth since his DNF in 2013 at the track.

A very impressive P5 was then claimed in 2014 by the German, a tremendous way to bounce back from that DNF. So, maybe this is also the weekend to boost Ricciardo’s momentum in what seems to be a backward move to Renault for the Australian.

But Haas, too, can be expected for a strong race in Canada as they have started to build momentum in 2019, following a fairly slow start which saw just one-point finish in the opening four races.

The tightness of the midfield continues to escalate, a compactness which should only continue in Canada as they all seek ways to claim that coveted fourth place in the constructors table.

Lance Stroll

Despite in a new team for 2019, Lance Stroll, whom is currently on a run of ten consecutive Q1 eliminations, continues to struggle within Formula One.

And although this will be his home race, the track doesn’t suit the Canadian’s driving but is a pivotal weekend for him, if he is to turn around his current form.

The P3 around Azerbaijan in 2017 seems a distant memory for the 20-year-old.

Stroll needs to start showing why his father was correct to sign him for Racing Point, considering it was Esteban Ocon who faced the consequences, a driver which many expect tremendous things for as politics forced him to have no seat in 2019.

With his team-mate Sergio Perez in ninth, Stroll is placed all the way down in 16th and a home race is potentially what he needs to start fresh, despite it not being a favoured track of his.

Especially with Perez currently leading 5-1 on race results, therefore it will be interesting to keep an eye on the Canadian to see how he copes with the pressure of a home race, considering his current position.

What time is the race on?

With the first North American race of 2019, it will also mean the start of an evening race for UK viewers, starting at 19:10 on Sunday with Saturday Qualifying at 19:00.

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