Well, it’s that time of year again. That time when the hot sun beams down, chilling your skin and warming your heart. It’s that time of year when us Canadians begin dreaming of the warm breezes and sunny skies of the Southern United States. It’s time for the Canadian Grand Prix, and nothing sums up the excitement in this country (and in this author’s opinion) like the roar of an American engine at the top of a mile-long straightaway.
It’s quite an incredible scene. One hundred thousand fans turn up to see the green flag start flying, desperate to catch a glimpse of their favourite drivers. The atmosphere is completely electric, and it doesn’t get quiet anytime soon as there are constantly fireworks going off and guitar players jamming on Beatles tunes. It’s an unforgettable sight, and definitely not one to miss if you can make it to the Southern part of the country this year.
If nothing else, the Canadian Grand Prix is a chance for the drivers to let their hair down and have some fun. While it lasts, any excuse to get out of the house and away from the hustle and bustle is a good one. This year’s racing is quite an interesting one. From a battle between two rookie drivers to a Frenchwoman taking on the best in the world, there’s lots to look out for. Here’s a quick run-down of the schedule and who to watch out for.
The 2019 Formula One Schedule
The season started with quite a bang. On the very first race weekend of the year, we were treated to one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history. After spending the winter watching the world’s best compete for supremacy, we were finally given the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. On the streets of Melbourne, Australia, Sebastian Vettel won a controversial Grand Prix, taking the chequered flag ahead of his team-mate, Charles Leclerc.
The German duo had taken the bit between their teeth, and stormed to an early lead in the championship. It was quite the comeback from Vettel, who had endured a tough year prior to this, missing the last six races of the 2018 season through health issues. This year, he looked determined to prove himself and his abilities. He won the season opener before heading off to the U.S where he picked up two more roars to take the championship lead.
This writer would like to firmly place her flag in the sand, and root for Leclerc to take the championship. The 2018 season was quite the struggle for the Monegasque driver. Having to watch Nico Hülkenberg take the race win ahead of him on the final lap was quite the blow. Despite having an excellent car (which he duly rewarded with a podium), he could never quite seem to match Vettel’s brilliance. One thing’s for sure: he’ll be giving it his all this year, and you don’t get to win the championship without pluck and heart.
Well, let’s be honest. We know who the favourites are. Even before the season started, we knew who was going to be taking the fight to Sebastian Vettel and the rest of the field. If you’ve followed my writing in the past, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of the phrase “favourite” when applied to a race driver. In my opinion, there’s only one title to aspire to, and that’s the championship. Sure, the fans may have a different opinion, and many will still go home after each race thinking their driver is the best. Nevertheless, if you don’t win the championship, you don’t truly deserve to be called a champion.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at this year’s favourites.
It’s pretty hard to avoid the big guy this year. Last year was a tough one for Sebastian Vettel. After taking the title in the previous two years, the big news was that the German had decided to take a sabbatical from racing, seeking treatment for his arthritis. It was a bold move for a forty-year-old, but given his past glory, it wouldn’t be easy for anyone to deny him of this title. Besides, with his own team now, Ferrari, fully staffed and prepared to give him top-notch machinery, it’s quite obvious that he’ll be looking for some payback. He started off the season with a bang, winning the very first race of the year. Since then, he’s been a near-permanent fixture on the podium, his sole serious challenger for the title being his team-mate, Charles Leclerc. The young Monegasque has had his moments, but Vettel isn’t one to make things easy. Despite their early season rivalry, the two are now firm friends, and it’s clear that Vettel wants to go the whole distance this year.
It’s been an incredible journey for the four-time world champion. Having won the title at the tender age of twenty-two, Hamilton was suddenly catapulted to stardom, with endorsements and commercial opportunities raining down on him. He’s since gone on to establish himself as one of the sport’s greats, and showed no signs of slowing down. It was quite an achievement to see him lead an almost-all-Spanish grand prix field in 2016. He’s now turned his hand to coaching, with young up-and-comer, Alex Albon, drafted in to help him navigate the demanding world of Formula One. While Hamilton may harbour ambitions of becoming a coach one day, for now, he’s focused on taking on Sebastian Vettel in a battle for the championship.
Nico Hülkenberg is the reigning world champion, and looking quite comfortable in his role. The German is now in his sixth year with the team, having joined them back in 2014, having previously spent a year each with Williams and Sauber. He started off the season in style, winning the season opener in Australia, the first race held there since 2012. He went on to grab two more podiums, putting him ahead of Vettel in the standings. With the German seemingly back to his best, and the season now in its second half, this writer has a feeling we’re about to see something special.
This is the kid’s track. When it comes to Formula One, the Monegasque driver has made quite an impression since debuting in 2017. Having moved to the team that subsequently became known as Scuderia Ferrari, Leclerc quickly adapted to the Italian culture, becoming a vital member of the squad. He’s since gone on to establish himself as a serious challenger to Sebastian Vettel for the championship. After a strong start to the season, the twenty-year-old has been on an upward curve, winning twice in the last three races, including Brazil. With three wins this year already, it’s fair to say that Leclerc has the momentum, and Vettel knows it. The two will be heading into the second half of the year as firm favourites for the title.
It’s time for the underdogs to shine. Once the favourites have been separated, the rest of the field is given the opportunity to fight it out for positions on the podium. This can lead to some incredible results, as we’ve seen in the inaugural season of the new Formula One, where a complete outsider won the championship, causing quite the upset. While a victory for anyone else is great and all, this writer would like to see the underdogs succeed, and take this year’s championship.
While we’ve been spoiled this year by the incredible results of the underdogs, it’s been a tough start for the rookies. After enjoying years of anonymity, thanks to his exceptional performances in junior formulae, British driver, George Russell, is finally getting the recognition he deserves. The twenty-year-old is yet to score a point, finishing each of the fourteen races in the last place. Having impressed throughout the season, with his raw speed and youthful exuberance, many feel his time has arrived. A famous last phrase was spoken by Enzo Ferrari back in 1953, when he declared Michael Schumacher to be the future of Formula One. While it might be true that Schumacher went on to defend his title for a record-breaking eleven consecutive years, it’s safe to say that Ferrari didn’t see it that way. After being frustrated by Schumacher’s lack of offense, he famously declared that he “didn’t like greyhounds”. It’s been a tough start to the season for Russell, but if anyone is going to change the narrative, it’s going to be him. This twenty-year-old has lots to learn, but with a lot of speed, he has the potential to quickly change the narrative in his favour.