Among the most challenging circuits on the roster, the legendary Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, at Montreal will be expected to unfold another competitive race for round seven of the 2018 Formula 1 season.
While the mere thoughts of racing at the iconic racing track, named after Gilles, a true great of the sport would bring a smile onto current World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s face, one wonders what might be the thoughts of Daniel Ricciardo?
Will we see Ricciardo smile again at the Canadian Grand Prix?
The man responsible for providing to F1’s upbeat, ultra-competitive turf a smile of warmth and if it could be said, some incandescence, may not be particularly pleased for his chances this weekend, even as he’ll prepare for a strong qualifying session on Saturday.
But before that, both for the Australian and his Red Bull team, concerns loom large in light of being sanctioned for using too many parts in what was ultimately- an emphatic win at the Principality of Monte Carlo, a fortnight ago.
When on Lap 30 of having led the 78-lap contest at Monaco Ricciardo was half-way through the tunnel, he informed his team over radio communication regarding a sudden loss of power. But, in what later transpired to be a truly epic drive, saw a visibly underpowered Red Bull drive past the checkered flag, having defended mightily well from the trailing Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
The prospect of dealing with several places worth of grid penalty
In doing so, Ricciardo already used the maximum number of permitted energy stores (battery) and control electronics to register his maiden win at Monaco, for him, a redemption that was earned ahead of leading stalwarts of the game- Hamilton and Vettel.
Therefore, as exciting as the prospect of racing in the nippy breeze of a classic old-world circuit, Daniel Ricciardo’s Canadian Grand Prix stands the risk of being stifled by what seems likely to be a grid penalty in light of his Monaco drive. So could this manifest in the form of a demotion to several places, perhaps nearing the back of the grid, we will have to wait to know?
Here’s what Red Bull’s Adrian Newey has said. “He will definitely be taking some penalties in Montreal, we haven’t heard at the moment just how many,” Newey said.
Can Ricciardo, the ‘race burglar’ emerge with something special?
Purely on conjecture but knowing Ricciardo’s resilience, should that happen, all hopes would rest on the ‘honey-badger’ to clinch a few feisty places, in the event of the Red Bull driver competing with the back-markers in the 70-lap competition.
And this would truly add credence to Martin Brundle’s description of the famous Australian driver, who, in the wake of Ricciardo’s stellar drive at the Chinese Grand Prix (the first of his two race wins this season) called him a ‘race burglar’.
The most important challenge, once again, would be to tackle the marauding pace of Ferrari and Mercedes.
Are they nearly at par on straight-line speed from what we’ve seen in the six Grands Prix?
Here’s what Ricciardo fans would want
Knowing Ricciardo’s penchant for competition, the man who berated his chances following the clash with Verstappen at Baku, he would be busy preparing for the much-anticipated Grand Prix instead of just ruing his chances.
That said, purely on current form, if there’s a driver who can salvage a good position on the track, despite being aggrieved by penalties, then it’s definitely Ricciardo, who, in the light of beginning his Shanghai challenge from P6, took the top step of the podium thanks to a pure exhibition of skill and daring.
What’ll also add more hope to his campaign would be the fact that his first-ever career win came here at the Canadian Grand Prix. In claiming the acerbic 70-lap contest, a race that measures not just speed but patience and skill, given slower corners and longer straights, jumped from P6, well behind the likes of pole-sitter Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel and Raikkonen to claim a scintillating maiden race win.
On Sunday, June 10, 2018, as the Formula 1 entourage will stare at the five red lights, here’s hoping that the third-placed driver in current world championships will give fans and pundits something to rave about.