Hi folks...

From Monaco we now go to Canada for the first of two back-to-back events in North America. Montreal is always a good location and the atmosphere should be great as the fans there are passionate about their motorsport and are big followers of Formula 1.

It is a shame that we don't have a local star, with Jacques Villeneuve not participating this year, but they will still flock to the grand prix. Montreal itself is a good city too - vibrant and all the people are well educated about the sport.

As for the track it is ideal in many ways as it is based just on the outside of the city and being part-street and part-permanent course it makes for an interesting locale.

It is tough on machinery however, because the braking is quite heavy. It is also quick and unforgiving with kerbs and walls in close proximity to the track. That means drivers' can get caught out and quite often a few will have some offs, particularly at 'Champion's wall'. It is also a bit bumpy because of the cold winters over there and that adds to the challenge.

Last time out of course it was all about McLaren-Mercedes and while I was a little bit concerned about the race at the Principality being a little bit one dimensional, the result was pretty much as we saw it.

Of course post-event the FIA launched an investigation into whether or not McLaren broke the rules by enforcing team orders and I was very pleased to see that Ron Dennis' squad were cleared of any wrong doing.

I had a number of people contact me after looking for weird and wonderful quotes but I don't think McLaren did anything wrong. The situation was very different from what went on a few years ago with Ferrari.

The difficulty on all these things is defining strategy, defining tactics, defining instructions and defining team orders. There is a fine line between those and once a race gets underway it is difficult to assess what is strategy and what is an instruction.

So, if you analyse it the right guy, namely Fernando Alonso, won on the day because of his performance on the circuit. I think the things that were said afterwards were construed to be something other than what went on. You are always going to get difficulties though when you are running two parallel championships' alongside each other with the constructors' and the drivers'. It is a tough one to try and manage.

Returning to this weekend I don't think McLaren will enjoy that same advantage as they did in Monaco. Monte Carlo just suited the MP4-22 more than any of the other cars and I believe we will be back to where we were for Barcelona.

That's not to say Ron Dennis' team won't be right up there because its car is obviously very good and will go well, but I would anticipate that Ferrari will be much stronger than it was two weeks ago.

Monaco was probably one of the weaker races for the Scuderia because of the long wheel base of its car and because of the effect of trying to use it around a close proximity circuit.

McLaren and Ferrari will again be the main contenders then and I think that will be the case throughout most, if not all, of the season.

Within those teams there is a good fight going on between the drivers and Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are having a great battle. They are really making each other step up when they get in the car at each event and it is clear the team is getting the best out of both of them.

Alonso has to dig very deep to keep Lewis at bay, while Lewis is learning all the time. The new experiences he is encountering are creating hurdles that he maybe didn't anticipate but that has been brought about by his overall performance so far, which for a rookie, has been sensational.

At Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen seems to be struggling some what and I am a bit surprised that he hasn't been stronger. That is not to say I am writing the guy off though.

There is a great deal still to come from him and he just needs to get on top of the car a bit more. He just seems a little bit uneasy with it. His mistake in qualifying two weeks ago was a blow and for him at this level I wouldn't have anticipated it happening, but it did. Now he needs to move on.

Felipe meanwhile is going from strength-to-strength and is driving very well indeed. His qualifying performances are extremely strong and his race performances now are very strong too. He is not making any mistakes and he is very solid. There is just a growing confidence within him. He has very much taken it to another level from what we have seen over the last few seasons.

As for the others, BMW are pretty much 'best of the rest' behind McLaren and Ferrari at this moment. Although people like Williams are definitely improving and have a very strong little package.

It is worth noting that Renault was much stronger in Monaco too. Whether that was a case of the circuit just being kinder to the R27 we will have to wait and see, but it did look more promising.

At Honda it looks like a little bit of progress has been made there as well, which is good for Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

Like Honda, Toyota will desperately be out to produce something, especially with Williams doing so well with its customer Toyota power-plant. The Cologne-based operation really should be doing something more. I have to say though it is becoming one of the teams you look at and struggle to understand just where it is going wrong. If you reflect on Red Bull Racing as an example, it is slowly making progress and it does look like it will be a stronger proposition for the remainder of the season. Can Toyota turn things around like RBR? We will have to wait and see.

As for the tail-enders, Scott Speed did well for Toro Rosso in Monaco and ninth was a good result for him and probably his best race to this point - it was very creditable. I'd like to see the consistency there now and more of the same as the year goes on, but that shows there is a bit of progress being made there behind the wheel and with what the guy has got to race.

STR as a team have seemingly made some progress but you can't get too sucked in with Monaco because it can actually change the shape of the grid slightly because of the way the circuit is. A few things may not suit certain cars and if you have got a car that has a few blemishes in terms of handling sometimes they get hidden and masked. But Montreal will again show the true form - mark my words.

So to my prediction, I am going to tip Kimi for pole and the win followed by Lewis and Fernando in second and third, then Massa, Giancarlo Fisichella and rounding out the top six, Nico Rosberg.

Enjoy the race...

MB

 

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