Momentum, its a funny thing, it can be there one minute and gone the next, something Nico Rosberg knows all too well. After winning the first four Grand Prix of the season it looked like he was the odds on favourite for World Champion this season. Three Grand Prix later, and that nearly two win advantage is down to just 9 points after two wins in a row for Lewis Hamilton.
The race in Canada was unusual and maybe not the best warm up for Baku, the temperatures were extremely cold (colder than even winter testing in Barcelona which took place in March), and blustery – neither a modern Formula One car likes. Baku is going to be the opposite with high temperatures in the 30’s and bright blue sky alongside the Caspian Sea (Although it isn’t a sea).
Canada should give an indication of the order in Baku, I say should has the cool track temps could give an artificial read to the weekend. You have to expect Mercedes to do well on the ‘World’s fastest street circuit’, and Ferrari should be up there. Red Bull and Honda have already said they could struggle, Honda particularly had problems in Canada although were masked by a great qualifying position for Fernando Alonso by getting his car into the top ten.
The start highlighted the problems Mercedes have with their start system, yet again neither getting away from the line well which gave the opportunity to Sebastian Vettel. Like Montreal there is quite a short distance to the first corner, that could pay into the hands of the Ferrari if they are on the second row (or even the front row if things go well). You can’t discount Williams either. Canada was a good weekend for them with Valtteri Bottas back in form to collect a third place, although these power circuits Williams have done well on over the last couple of years with a less draggy car than some other teams. Back on a fast circuit, and they should do well.
At the back of the field there are many other stories. Renault lost another chassis in Canada, that’s on the back of losing one in Monaco as well and for a team rebuilding that isn’t ideal as they are starting to look ahead to 2017. Sauber also had issues, Felipe Nasr just hasn’t got to grips with the car and is still complaining about the handling, although Marcus Ericsson hasn’t complained at all and now looks the faster of the two. With both paying for the drive, recent clashes haven’t helped with harmony.
It is a real shame that a brand new venue should have to clash with one of the big three races – the Le Mans. It has also denied us other Formula One drivers heading to Le Mans to try and emulate the win by Nico Hulkenberg last year, with several drivers in the sport wanted to give it a go.