Lewis Hamilton will hope to extend his lead at the top of the Formula One drivers’ championship with victory at one of his favorite circuits at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 2.10pm ET).
Hamilton is a master of the Montreal track, having won there on six occasions, just once less than the record-holder, Michael Schumacher. He has qualified on the front row in nine of his 10 appearances and has beaten his teammates nine to one in qualifying in that time.
The Circuit Gilles Villenueve is well-suited to Hamilton’s aggressive, late-braking approach, and no one has been able to prevent him winning the event in each of the last three years. Even with Ferrari and Red Bull both looking stronger this year, he is rightly the favorite with the American online sports betting companies to emerge victorious on Sunday.
Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel are, on paper, his two likeliest challengers, and both have previously won in Canada. Ricciardo took victory in Monaco two weeks ago, ahead of Vettel and Hamilton, but the Red Bull driver’s hopes of securing another triumph will be impeded by a grid penalty for changing power unit elements. Vettel, while obviously quick, and with a good Ferrari underneath him, hasn’t always showed strongly in Canada.
That would perhaps leave Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull as one to watch this weekend, but he has been too erratic this season to be counted upon. Likewise, it is difficult to see either Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari or Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in Monaco, truly testing Hamilton on race day.
With all that in mind, a record-equalling seventh victory at the Canadian Grand Prix could be Hamilton’s this weekend.
Esteban Ocon secured his best finish of the season to date for Force India by coming home sixth in Monaco, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly. The Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finished eighth and 10th, either side of Verstappen, who was only able to recover to ninth after a crash in practice saw him miss qualifying and start at the back.
Ocon secured seven top-six finishes last year in an impressive full debut season with Force India, including a sixth-place finish in Canada, behind teammate Sergio Perez in fifth. After a bitty start to the new season, he is hopeful of again enjoying a good race this weekend, where Ricciardo’s penalties could open up an opportunity for a stronger than normal finish.
Force India have always gone well in Canada. Hulkenberg finished fifth for them back in 2015 and eight of the last 10 cars they have entered into the race have finished in the points. While it was Perez who had the upper hand in the battle of the teammates at last year’s race, it is Ocon who looks the more likely top-six challenger this weekend.
That is, not, however, to say that Perez won’t also enjoy a good race on Sunday. He did finish on the podium in Canada for Sauber back in 2012, and then thrice came home just outside the points in 11th before his return to the top 10 in each of the last two years.
Renault and McLaren have been the most consistent points scorers in the midfield so far this season, but there has generally been at least one other team in that pack who has showed better pace than them in each of the races to date. They will both expect to improve and get closer to the front three teams as the year progresses, but improvements thus far have been marginal, and they are not yet out of reach for the teams behind them.
Now, Force India seem to be making their move towards offering a challenge for the fourth-place in the constructors’ championship that they have taken in each of the last two years. Perez has been an incredibly consistent performer in that time and is certainly capable of adding to Force India’s points haul by securing a top 10 finish in Canada this weekend.
Our Preview’s F1 Canadian Grand Prix Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
Our Canadian Grand Prix predictions and picks with the USA bookies are: