At the end of the Monaco Grand Prix it emerged that Pirelli and Mercedes Benz, using their 2013 challenger, carried out a two day tyre test right after the Spanish Grand Prix, two weeks earlier. Testing a current car or one of a design less than two years old mid season is forbidden under Article 22 of the FIA’s sporting regulations.
However there is a catch, the contract with Pirelli, who supply the tyres to all the teams, states that they may call on any team to conduct up to 600 miles of testing, on behalf of all the other teams, so long as all the teams are offered an equal opportunity to test.
Ferrari also did a tyre test with Pirelli earlier in the season using a permitted 2011 car and the issue now being investigated by the FIA is to see if Mercedes Benz tested with an unsanctioned car? Pirelli claim they did not specify the use of a 2013 car for the tests in Barcelona, which were for tyres to be used next year. Mercedes Benz have made no official comment on a matter which could see them excluded from the championship.
If Mercedes Benz did not break the rules expect to see more teams taking part in tyre tests, which to date they have been reluctant to participate
in. In light of the possible consequences it is impossible to fathom that Mercedes Benz would take the risk of testing an unsanctioned vehicle. The FIA’s decision has yet to be timetabled, but is awaited with baited breath.
The day after the Monaco Grand Prix 1965 Champion John Surtees opined that there has to be a better balance between ‘pure competition and entertainment’ in Formula One and I am the first to agree that talk of tyres has become far too convoluted over the last few months.
This weekend sees the Formula One Championship returning to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. With Nico Rosberg driving his Mercedes Benz to an unexpected victory last time out we now have four teams with race winning cars this season making predictions more difficult than ever.
On current form Mercedes Benz are almost guaranteed to lock out the front row of the grid in qualifying. Tyre issues not withstanding, the pressure is on three time Canadian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton to start from the front and win, as his significantly less well remunerated team mate Nico comes into the weekend on a roll of three consecutive pole starts and one win.
The main championship interest will be to see what Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus can pull out of the hat. Fernando’s season has been one of consistent highs and lows, which is an exciting way to go about winning a championship, but unlikely to get the desired season end result. Kimi’s points finishing consistency means that with only one win he is ahead of Fernando who has won twice in this years championship.
Sebastian Vettel must be looking to consolidate his championship lead, with Mercedes Benz likely to take the top two spots he need take no risks to ensure a good points finish and I expect team mate Mark Webber to follow Sebastian to the checkered flag.
Where number two drivers Felipe Massa for Ferrari or Romain Grosjean might finish is anyone’s guess, a top six finish for either is possible and anything higher would return them to hero status after multiple shunts in Monaco.
McLaren, like Ferrari, are thirteen time Canadian Grand Prix winners and they showed improved performance in Monaco even though they came home with fewer points than the similarly Mercedes Benz powered Force India team.
Look for Jenson Button to challenge for the win in inclement weather, Sergio Perez is likely to again get ahead of his team mate Jenson during qualifying and the race, question is can, the chastised for his antics in Monaco, Sergio bring the car home in one piece?
Force India will have a scrap on their hands with McLaren for the lower points finishes. With the announcement that McLaren is to ditch it’s Mercedes Benz motors in 2014, in favour of Honda, it will be interesting to see if Force India move up the Mercedes Benz pecking order.
If so, I expect to see fifth place in the constructors championship, currently disputed with McLaren, to go Force India’s way. Adrian Sutil boosted by his 5th place finish in Monaco should provide a stiffer challenge to Force India team- mate Paul di Resta this weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Éric Vergne at Torro Rosso will be lucky to get points as a result of retirements at the front, expect them to be dicing with Sauber’s Nico Hülkenberg for the points awarded for 9th and 10th place finishes.
Williams will be buoyed up with the news that after two years they will be switching from Renault to Mercedes Benz motors next season, but it is difficult to see either Pastor Maldonado or Valtteri Bottas improving on their seasons best 11th place finishes this season, unless of course the weather plays havoc.
Charles Pic and Giedo van deer Garde in the Caterhams will be looking to add reliability to the improved turn of speed shown in Monaco and hoping to get the better of Marussia drivers Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton in the process. A top ten finish from either team is out of the question, barring a mid race earth quake. Max will almost certainly start from the back of the grid after being issued with a five- place grid penalty for driving Pastor Maldonado off the road last time out.
I’ll go with Lewis Hamilton for the win from team-mate Rosberg followed by Alonso, Raikkonen, Vettel and Webber. A result that would see Vettel leave the race with a marginally reduced but nonetheless consolidated championship lead. If the weather plays a factor, as in the past, all bets are off.
Ralph can also be found at: http://psychoontyres.blogspot.com