After a two-week break, Formula 1 returns to racing and jumps across from Europe to North America for the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal.
Max Verstappen enjoys a 53-point lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez after a fifth win of the season in Barcelona. The Dutchman heads into this weekend’s race as the favourite.
It’s a home race for Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll and his son Lance who finished sixth in Spain. The carnival-like atmosphere in Montreal makes it one of the more enjoyable GP weekends on the calendar.
Famous for the Wall of Champions, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was named after the Canadian driver who died at the Belgian GP in 1982.
Incidentally, four years earlier Villeneuve had won the first running of the Canadian GP at the Ile Notre Dame, a man-made island.
The first half of the lap works the brakes intensely and is punctuated by chicanes and a sharp hairpin.
The long back straight in sector three is 1190m long and is interrupted by a chicane at Turn 14 before another straight.
The lap ends with the famous Wall of Champions after Michael Schumacher and Canadian Jacques Villeneuve left their ‘autographs’ on it during the 1999 Canadian GP weekend.
The drivers will hit the maximum throttle for 76% of the lap and change gears 52 times and the top speed is around 320km/h.
Overall, it’s a rapid track that requires a low downforce setup and therefore favours cars like the Aston Martin. We know Red Bull’s RB19 seemingly has almost no weakness, and is fast across most track layouts.
Aston Martin Comeback In Montreal?
On the topic of the British team, their star driver Fernando Alonso bullishly claimed that the Spanish GP was “the last time we are not on the podium”.
The double world champion boasts five podium finishes in seven races and he wasn’t happy with the seventh spot at his home race.
Reports in Europe suggest the team will run a heavily upgraded car in Montreal. Alonso is leading the charge to beat Mercedes who recorded their best performance in Spain.
Mercedes Throw Cold Water On A Barcelona Repeat Performance
Mercedes were buoyed by their double podium finish in Barcelona a fortnight ago but conceded the upgraded W14 will struggle in Montreal.
“We were pleased with how it performed, and it will provide a new baseline for us to build from,” the team said.
“But we must also manage our expectations. It was a circuit that suited our car, and we should expect our direct competitors to be stronger in the next races.”
“The gap to Red Bull is large and it will take lots of hard work to close that down. Nevertheless, we’re up for the challenge,” the team concluded.
The Best Of The Rest
This F1 season has thrown up many different scenarios, and the teams like Alpine and even Haas have produced similar times to Mercedes, Ferrari, and Aston Martin.
It’s disappointing to see Ferrari lying in fourth place after seven races, but their team hasn’t performed to the high standards of F1.
They simply haven’t been able to sew together a strong weekend. With Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, they have two strong drivers. They need the entire team to pull their weight, or risk being frustrated in Montreal.
Perez is a good outside bet at 5.00 to win the race. Max is favourite at 1.30, and perhaps a cheeky bet on Alonso at 19.00 is worthwhile.
I think Alonso will grab a podium finish and look out for Hamilton and Russell in the top six.
There’ll be a safety car based on how difficult the drivers find it to stay off of the Wall of Champions.