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Formula 1 Preview: Canadian Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Debargha Banerjee

Credit: Dan Istitene - Formula 1 via Getty Images

From a grand prix built on pomp and prestige without so much of the on-track action, we now turn to a completely different challenge for our drivers in Montreal. As we know from the rich history of the Circuit Gilles-Villenueve, dramatic moments are abundant here and, thankfully, overtaking is a frequent occurrence. Ladies and gentlemen, here is everything you need to know before the Canadian Grand Prix.

Circuit Guide

Credit: Formula 1

The Circuit Gilles-Villenueve comes as a breath of fresh air after the narrow-walled streets of Monte Carlo. Three DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones link an exhilarating selection of twists and turns, meaning passes are always possible.

The lap starts with the wide and winding turns 1 and 2, which could well see cars going two or even three wide right from the get-go. It is not uncommon to see a driver forced into bailing out and cutting across the grass too, and it will be fun to see how aggressively they all behave on the first lap especially.

A relatively short run down to the tighter turns 3 and 4 follows, the site of Sebastian Vettel’s infamous error while leading Lewis Hamilton in 2019 which the stewards deemed to be an unsafe reentry. Mistakes are punished harshly here, as the German ultimately lost the victory due to the penalty that this incident earned him.

The walls seem to close in every lap through turn 5 and into turn 6, on the exit of which Vettel skidded off under difficult conditions in 2011 to hand Jenson Button an extremely hard-fought win. It is worth pointing out that despite these iconic moments, the four-time world champion has still emerged victorious here on two occasions (2013 and 2018).

A burst of DRS is available to drivers coming out of turn 7, as they fly down to the tight turns 8 and 9, making sure not to get caught out by the treacherous raised kerbs. After another blast of the throttle, the drivers have to slam on the brakes to get themselves around the slow turn 10 hairpin and past the little kink of turn 11, then the DRS flap opens wide and the fun starts if you’re close enough to the car ahead.

If you’ve managed to make your move down the long straight, then your task is to keep it together through the rapid right and left jinks of turns 13 and 14 without taking the kerbs too aggressively and ending up in the notorious Wall of Champions. Then, DRS becomes available once again and uses the same detection zone as just before, so you can pull away over the start-finish straight and into turn one again.

Credit: Carlo Allegri/AFP via Getty Images

Weekend Format

There is no Sprint this weekend, but it is a return to the Americas so timings are a little later than for the last two grands prix.

Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 18:30 pm

Practice 2 - Friday, 22:00 pm

Practice 3 - Saturday, 17:30 pm

Qualifying - Saturday, 21:00 pm

Race - Sunday, 19:00 pm

Weather Forecast

Summer has started but the rain is never far away. Light rain is expected for parts of Saturday and Sunday, throwing an element of unpredictability into the mix for both qualifying and the race. Warm but pleasant temperatures are forecasted, with light winds throughout the weekend giving the fans a real taste of the variable Canadian weather.

Major Talking Points

  • More Trouble at Alpine - With a mere two points to show for eight rounds of racing so far this season, the situation isn’t showing any signs of settling down soon either as the French manufacturers announced their parting of ways with Esteban Ocon at the season’s end, following an overly ambitious manoeuvre on his teammate that put his own car out of contention.

  • Have Red Bull made the Right Choice? - Sergio Perez has now been confirmed as a Red Bull driver for another two years, and with minor cracks starting to shine through in the team in terms of performance and stability both on and off the track, time will tell if the right decision has been reached or if more ambition was required.

  • Can Leclerc and Ferrari go two in a row? - No team has won back-to-back races other than Red Bull since Ferrari in 2022, and no driver other than Verstappen has done it since Hamilton in 2021, so could this be the moment that Ferrari take to capitalise on Red Bull’s woes and truly throw at least the Constructor Standings into a proper battle?

Last Race Recap

The main story from the Monaco Grand Prix was of course Charles Leclerc breaking his streak of misery around his home race and earning himself a place on the top spot of the podium. Ferrari fans therefore might have enjoyed this race if just to watch 78 laps of someone beating Verstappen, but quite simply, to call it a race would be generous - it was more of a procession.

Lap 1 had all the chaos as we first saw Carlos Sainz make contact with Oscar Piastri ahead of him at Sainte Devote before steaming uncontrollably straight on at Casino and seemingly wrecking his chances of a good result. The red flag was soon flown however after multiple incidents left the narrow track impassable.

The major incident was a dramatic collision between Perez and the two Haas cars, as Kevin Magnussen tried to dive round the outside of the Mexican through Beau Rivage much to his rival’s surprise, and the pair were sent sliding along the walls and out of the race as they collected Magnussen’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg in the process.

Multiple photographers were too close for comfort as they tried to get the perfect shot of the action, even leaving one bruised but thankfully otherwise OK.

Credit: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Ocon had gone for an outrageous lunge on his own teammate Pierre Gasly at Portier, giving him no room to avoid a collision that almost flipped Ocon’s car on its side and left him with race-ending damage.

This incident was looked upon extremely dimly by Alpine team principal Bruno Famin, warning of serious consequences which preceded the announcement of Ocon’s upcoming departure from the team.

With no established order to rely on, positions were restored to the starting grid from the cars still running in the race, giving Sainz the saving grace that he needed to get back up to a podium position. The red flag also allowed all the drivers to switch to a new set of tyres, essentially removing the obligation to make a pit stop in the race and the potential jeopardy of differing strategies later on.

Aside from a relatively controlled puncture for Lance Stroll, any on-track action was few and far between in this race. Eventually, Leclerc made no mistake in securing his first ever victory around Monaco and it was a result adored by fans of the sport all around the world.

Piastri followed suit with an impressive performance throughout the weekend, while Sainz could only thank those behind him for restoring his P3 through the red flag.

Lando Norris had a quieter weekend just slotting behind the Spaniard, while George Russell did exceptionally well to nurse a set of medium tyres for 77 laps and stay ahead of the ominous Verstappen behind on much fresher tyres. Hamilton had a frustrating race, just unable to mount a proper challenge to the pair ahead of him.

Yuki Tsunoda put up another magnificent display to come home in eighth, again proving his credentials for a potential team change next season even if Red Bull won’t put their faith in him. Alex Albon and Gasly rounded out the points playing positions with excellent performances of their own as well.

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