With another front row lockout almost a certainty at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve the world’s eyes were on engine supplier Renault and their main customers RBR, who had been hoping for another quick performance after an uplifting result for Daniel Ricciardo at the preceding race in Monaco.
The boot was on the other foot this weekend however, as Sebastian Vettel managed to secure an impressive third place on the grid after a disappointing best lap from his team-mate. Mistakes aside, the performance certainly helps in proving that Red Bull are now moving in the right direction.
For a team coming off the back of four championship wins, the start of the 2014 season has not been an easy one for either Red Bull, Renault or Sebastian Vettel but after an impressive set of times in Q3 and managing to reduce the gap to the Mercs, especially after both drivers admitted to not putting in the most accurate lap, is an impressive display which can only serve to boost confidence in the Milton Keynes camp.
Was this just one-off hot lap with the right conditions, or a sign of overall improvement from the Bulls?
Williams, after a disappointing Qualifying and a less-than-stellar result in Monaco, arrived in Montreal confident and by Q3 were the obvious choice to bring the fight to Mercedes.
They did not disappoint, taking full advantage of a special qualifying only engine mapping which was delivered for this race, both drivers were comfortably as fast as the Red Bulls throughout the afternoon but not quick enough for the front row. With their pace and improved performance I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the white suited drivers on the third step after the race this afternoon.
With Ferrari, McLaren and Force India all seemingly out of contention for the top slots on the timesheet after a disappointing set of results it seems that although the gap is closing on Mercedes, it is obvious that some teams are still struggling with both reliability and aerodynamic performance, with Räikkönen quoted as saying he was still struggling with the handling of the F14T in Q3.
Whatever the result in today’s race, one thing is clear: As we turn a crucial corner in the 2014 season which often sees improved updates from most of the grid, the gap is surely closing on the Mercedes drivers.