After two races in Europe, Formula One heads across the Atlantic to North America for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Here, we take a look at the key talking points ahead of Sunday’s race in Montreal.
Hamilton’s the Montreal master
If you had told Hamilton that he would lose only three points to Vettel in Monaco, a notorious bogey track for his Mercedes team, the Brit would have nobbled your arm off.
And after salvaging third, only one place behind the Ferrari driver, Hamilton can now head to a circuit where he has become the master in recent years. Following trips to California, to check in on his pet dogs Roscoe and Coco, and then up and over to New York, Hamilton, 33, arrived in Montreal on Tuesday night.
It was here where he won his first grand prix, back in 2007, and it is a venue where he has gone on to triumph a further five times – including a hat-trick for Mercedes (2015, 2016, and 2017). Indeed should Hamilton win on Sunday, he will match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Canadian Grand Prix victories.
Vettel needs victory to spark title charge
Vettel’s campaign started in spectacular fashion after he recorded back-to-back wins, but following an accident through no fault of his own with Max Verstappen in China, before falling off the track in Baku, and Mercedes and then Red Bull’s resurgence in Spain and Monaco respectively, Vettel heads to Canada winless from his last four races.
Montreal has been well-suited to Mercedes, but let us not forget Vettel should have won there back in 2016 only for Ferrari’s two-stop strategy to backfire and afford Hamilton the win.
It will not be a disaster for Ferrari if Hamilton triumphs on Sunday, but should Vettel upset the odds and beat his rival, then it will go some way to sending a statement of intent, and one which you fancy he needs, to reignite his championship charge.
Ricciardo facing grid penalty misery
Ricciardo won in Monaco despite nursing an engine problem so terminal that his Red Bull boss Christian Horner likened it to the troubling Apollo 13 space mission. But Ricciardo’s engine failure in the principality will come back to bite him this weekend with the Australian due to serve a hefty grid penalty on Sunday.
Indeed Ricciardo could be thrown to the back of the pack, dependant on the number of engine parts his Red Bull team have to change. It is a blow for Ricciardo’s title chances after he moved up to third, and within 38 points of Hamilton following his Monaco triumph.
But after the dreary spectacle in Monaco a fortnight ago, at least we can rely on one of the finest overtakers in the sport fighting his way back through the field to provide the entertainment this weekend.
Triple ton up for Alonso
Fernando Alonso will this week become only the fourth driver in Formula One history to reach the landmark of 300 grands prix entries. Rubens Barrichello (326), Jenson Button (309) and Schumacher (308) are the only other men to have surpassed the milestone.
Alonso was set to finish seventh in Monaco before he retired (his first DNF of the season) with a gearbox issue. The 36-year-old Spaniard fears the high-powered Montreal track will work against his McLaren car.
“Canada is going to be challenging,” Alonso said. “It’s a tough circuit with long straights. Our lack of speed is maybe a penalty there.”
Lawsuit filed against Raikkonen
A Canadian waitress has filed a reported seven-figure lawsuit against Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen, the 38-year-old Finn, has been accused of touching the woman’s breasts after the Montreal race two years ago.
The woman made the allegations in a blog back in 2016, but did not name Raikkonen. Earlier this year, she gave her version of events to the police.
Raikkonen has denied the allegations and has claimed he is a victim of blackmail. The Finn’s lawyers have filed an extortion counterclaim.
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British teenager Lando Norris has been approached by Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso to race for them for the remainder of the Formula One season.
Norris is the reserve driver for McLaren this year, but Toro Rosso made a formal move to sign the 18-year-old on loan as a replacement for the under-performing New Zealander Brendon Hartley.
It is reported that Toro Rosso wanted to make Norris Britain’s youngest ever F1 debutant in Austria next month – just seven days before his home race at Silverstone – but McLaren are believed to have rejected their proposal.
Toro Rosso were keen for the temporary deal to be extended into next season, but McLaren’s plans beyond this year remain undetermined and the British team could yet choose to promote Norris to one of their race seats in 2019.
Whether he is driving a caravan around a Formula One track or throwing touchdowns with Tom Brady on a super yacht in the south of France, Daniel Ricciardo is a man who knows no boundaries.
The Australian, fresh off the back of a stunning victory around the streets of Monaco, is now third in the drivers’ standings after his win in the Principliaty.
Ricciardo topped every session across the weekend in Monte Carlo – including each of the three qualifying sessions – before overcoming a serious loss in power to beat Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to the chequered flag.
In the midst of a purple patch, it was a perfect weekend for the Perth native and begs the question; can he challenge for the title this season?
The Red Bull driver is now 38 points behind Hamilton, who is 14 ahead of Vettel.
All three have now chalked up two victories each this season and with another 15 races to go, the title fight has already intensified.
For all the talk of a two horse race in 2018, Ricciardo has firmly put his name in the frame.
At 28, he is two years Vettel’s junior and four years younger than Hamilton, and although he is nowhere near as successful as either opponent, he is starting to showcase the skills and confidence to challenge two of this generation’s best.
In China last month, he picked off Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas in three clean sweeps to rise through the field from sixth for his first win of the season.
It was a masterful performance, with each overtake aggressive but smoother than the last.
It was just one of the many examples of his genuine class behind the wheel, and with a competitive car, he could potentially topple the big names on a consistent basis.
Reliability issues saw the Milton Keynes-based Red Bull suffer their worst campaign in 2017 in nearly 11 years, but their new chassis and a strong Renault-powered engine should put them in a position to challenge their rivals this season, as they bid to close the gap at the top of the constructors’ championship.
But for all the positive talk coming out of Buckinghamshire, Ricciardo faces an uncertain future at Red Bull and is unwilling to sign beyond 2018 until he understands the potential of this car.
Christian Horner and Co wil be desperate to keep hold of the biggest name in the sport at the moment. Along with teammate Max Verstappen, Red Bull boast the most exciting driver line-up on the grid.
With Bottas and Raikkonen entering the final year on their respective deals, a driver merry-go-round could ensue at the end of the campaign with the Australian a front runner to secure one of the Mercedes or Ferrari seats.
Primed to be a world champion, Ricciardo has the tools at his disposal and a car – if consistent – to make this dream a reality. And with his confidence sky high and his driving ability on song, now is the time for Ricciardo to step up and show why is one of the leading men on the grid.
Any driver can flicker before fading, but the ever-smiling Australian needs to prove his recent ferocious form is here to stay and that he can firmly push Vettel and Hamilton in the title race and in future years.
Hamilton may lift the title for a fifth time in November, but this could be the year we see Ricciardo close in as a serious contender for the world championship.