Johannesburg - From top dog to underdog. At least that is what Toto Wolff would have us believe as Mercedes prepare for the Canadian GP – a race won by Lewis Hamilton on five occasions.
A problematic weekend from their lead driver in Monaco and a clear indication that Ferrari have chosen a “number one” have left Mercedes reeling.
Not only did they relinquish the Constructors’ Championship lead on the streets of Monte Carlo, but Hamilton trails Sebastian Vettel by 25 points – the same number for winning a race if one of the chasing pack could cast aside what finishers two to 10 also accrue.
Monaco’s fallout had Wolff stating that Mercedes were the underdogs and Ferrari the clear favourites.
A red top two sweep in Monaco does not, however, equate to a strong car at the power-hungry, brake-eating Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Vettel won once
Some pundits believe Ferrari’s first win in Monaco since 2001 marked a turning point for a team that has not won a Drivers’ title since 2007.
It is perhaps at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday that will be the true test of their resurgence.
The Scuderia have not won in Montreal since Michael Schumacher’s unprecedented seventh win back in 2004.
The same cannot be said of Mercedes.
Hamilton will arrive on the grid chasing his third successive Canadian GP win and his sixth in total.
History is very much on the Briton’s side, especially as Vettel has only won here once – in 2013.
History, though, may be all that is on Hamilton’s side because his tyres definitely aren’t.
Pirelli is once again bringing its softest range, which includes the ultrasofts – the tyre that befuddled Hamilton and his inconsistent W08 in Monaco.
But while Hamilton and Vettel promise to set the stage alight at the front, it is perhaps those behind who have the biggest stories to tell.
Having been firmly relegated to “number two” status last time out, whether by race strategy or design, Kimi Räikkönen needs a strong weekend to prove that he is not a second.
And Jolyon Palmer needs an even stronger finish to hold on to his race seat.
According to reports earlier in the week, Sunday's Grand Prix is of do-or-die consequence for the British racer, who has yet to get off the mark and score any points this season.
Although Palmer has had the worst of Renault’s reliability issues, he has also been their worst driver, leaving the Enstone team pondering whether it is time to replace him.
He may know the answer to that on Sunday evening.
Another driver looking to get inside the top 10 is Lance Stroll, although that’s not the case if you ask him.
The Canadian rookie said he was targeting improvements and not points on a race-by-race basis, however, unless his points start to outnumber his crashes, that pay driver tag may see him scorned and not loved by his home fans.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso is back to his “day job” after his Indianapolis 500 bid was scuppered by a Honda engine failure.
Same story ... different series. Or is it?
Unfortunately for McLaren, who have made some not so thinly veiled threats to drop Honda’s engines, the headline tonight is likely to be “same series, same story”. – TEAMtalk Media