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Canadian Grand Prix Race Review: Ton up for Red Bull as rivals make gains

Max Verstappen’s lights-to-flag victory in the Canadian Grand Prix brought up 100 race wins for Red Bull and with it the prospect of plenty more to follow.

Verstappen once again cruised through the race to record his fourth successive victory and sixth from eight rounds this season, drawing level with the great Ayrton Senna on 41 career wins in the process.

The two-time world champion is now fifth on the list of all-time wins in F1 and should close the gap on those ahead of him further this year in the remaining 14 races.

And, while the Drivers’ Championship is firmly Verstappen’s to lose after he extended his lead to 69 points, Red Bull’s rivals can be content with at least having got a bit closer to the Dutchman.

What2023 Austrian Grand Prix
WhereRed Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria 
When9 AM ET, Sunday, July 2nd
How to watchTSN
OddsMax Verstappen -300, Sergio Perez +600, Fernando Alonso +900, Lewis Hamilton +900

Aston and Mercedes see cause for optimism

While Verstappen’s second consecutive victory in Montreal was rarely in doubt, the winning margin of 9.5 seconds was the second smallest of the 2023 season.

Red Bull had a few issues, most notably with tyre temperatures on a relatively cool day at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but the fact Aston Martin and Mercedes didn’t let Verstappen disappear over the horizon was a plus in an otherwise uncompetitive season.

Fernando Alonso took second for the second time this season on a good weekend for Aston Martin, who saw plenty of improvement following a series of major upgrades.

Alonso was unlucky not to have snatched pole in a wet qualifying session and the Spaniard’s Aston performed well during the race as the two-time champion held off third-placed Lewis Hamilton.

Although George Russell’s DNF after hitting the barrier on lap 12 put a dampener on the Silver Arrows’ weekend, they were pleased with how competitive they were at a track they didn’t feel suited their car.

Mercedes’ upgrades are clearly working well though, and with more to come for the British Grand Prix, they can be confident of eroding Red Bull’s advantage further. 

More expected from Ferrari

Ferrari are another team pleased with the results of their upgrades after a strong race performance made up for a qualifying blunder.

Charles Leclerc was fuming with the team after they got their strategy wrong on Saturday, but was pleased with the way they bounced back with the Monegasque driver claiming fourth, one place ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz.

While the race performance was a big plus, this was a track where Ferrari were expected to thrive and had they not got qualifying wrong, they could have been challenging Alonso and Hamilton ahead of them more seriously.

The Italians continue to underperform and Canada goes down as a missed opportunity to score only their second podium of the year.

Problems mounting for Perez

When all is working well, Ferrari have the second quickest car on the track, as demonstrated by the Scuderia comfortably keeping Sergio Perez’s Red Bull behind them to condemn the Mexican to another frustrating weekend.

After a strong start to the season, the last few races have been nothing short of a disaster for Perez, who didn’t get out of Q2 for the second race running, while he’s now gone three races without a podium finish.

Canada isn’t Perez’s favourite race, but that’s no excuse for his continued inability to get anywhere near the performance level of Verstappen and his future at Red Bull may start to come under threat without a rapid turnaround.

Albon makes a statement

Alexander Albon can testify to how ruthless Red Bull can be after being demoted in 2021 following a season-and-a-half as Verstappen’s team mate.

Albon decided to leave the Red Bull set-up as a result, taking up residence with perennial back maker Williams, where he’s pulled off some impressive results.

The London-born Thai racer chalked up his best result for Williams in Canada, holding off several drivers to claim seventh place off the back of starting tenth.

Albon is enjoying an excellent season, twice finishing in the top 10, while he’s also made it through to Q3 on two occasions.

Should he continue to punch above his weight for the remainder of the season, there’s a possibility a more competitive team may give him a second chance to battle further up the grid, with the 27-year-old claiming he still has a good relationship with Red Bull.

Canadian Grand Prix Race Preview: Alonso gunning for Verstappen

A mixed up grid will line up for the Canadian Grand Prix after constantly changing weather conditions caught out some big names during qualifying.

But Max Verstappen showed why he's sauntering towards a third consecutive drivers' championship. 

Seemingly oblivious to the chaos around him, the Red Bull star blitzed the competition to take his fifth pole position of the season and third in a row.

Verstappen is just -400 to take his sixth victory of the season. 

Having led throughout in Spain last time out and set fastest lap along the way, the flying Dutchman may target a second straight Grand Slam, which he can be backed at +200 to achieve.

Following Saturday's downpours, a more settled, though cloudy, day is forecast for the race.

Another opportunity for Alonso

Nico Hulkenberg qualified a sensational second, but the Haas driver was given a three-place penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for red flags, so his place on the front row is taken by Fernando Alonso.

It is the fourth time this season that the Aston Martin driver has started second, although he has managed to finish that high only once.

The wily veteran has talked up his team's upgrade package ahead of this race, though, and with five podiums already from seven races this year another top-three finish will be the least Alonso is aiming for.

Canada is a circuit where it's possible to make a lunge at the first corner, but Alonso may play it cautiously.

Even if he gets ahead of Verstappen into turn one, the Red Bull is so much quicker on the straights that Alonso has next to no chance of keeping him behind. 

And with Aston Martin in a battle with Mercedes for second in the constructors' championship, Alonso arguably has more to lose than Verstappen and Red Bull, who enjoy enormous advantages in their title races.

Perez on recovery mission again

While Verstappen can seemingly do no wrong, his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez failed to reach the top-ten qualifying shootout for the third race running.

The Mexican found himself on the wrong tyre for the track conditions in Q2, and will start 12th on the grid. 

Just ahead of him, but also missing out on the top ten was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who's team overruled his request to switch to the slick tyres that turned out to be the optimum choice.

Perez climbed from 11th on the grid to finish fourth in Spain last time out, and he should find overtaking at Montreal even easier. 

The Mexican's early-season hopes of mounting a championship challenge have long since fallen by the wayside, but he will be targeting a podium finish, for which he is a +200 chance.

Mercedes aiming to consolidate second place

Mercedes have made steady improvement throughout the season, and their double podium in Spain saw them sneak ahead of Aston Martin into second place in the constructors' championship.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will line up third and fourth and will aim to attack Alonso from the outset.

Having both drivers near the front gives Mercedes more strategic options, and they may use different tyre tactics with the two drivers in an attempt to wrong-foot Alonso and Aston Martin.

Lance Stroll in the second Aston continues to underperform and will start only 16th - much too far back to be of any assistance to his team-mate.  

Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying Preview: Time for Ferrari to shine

The next stop on Max Verstappen and Red Bull's title-winning tour is the Canadian Grand Prix, where there's the potential for someone to rain on the Dutchman's championship parade in qualifying.

Red Bull have won 17 of the last 18 Formula 1 races with Verstappen chalking up his fifth victory in seven rounds of the 2023 season.

Barcelona brought out the best in Verstappen's Red Bull and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is another track that plays to the strengths of the reigning Constructors' champions, with Verstappen favored to chalk up Red Bull's 100th win as team.

But, the high probability of rain on Saturday for a vital qualifying session threatens to spice up the fight for grid positions at a track where the driver starting from pole has won five of the last six editions of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Pressure on Perez

The drivers are getting used to competing in wet conditions with the last two race weekends affected by rain to some degree, while the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was postponed due to flooding. 

While the impact of the damp conditions in Montreal are still to be felt, Red Bull's Sergio Perez will hope they can level the playing field slightly after two disastrous races. 

The Mexican finds himself 53 points adrift of Verstappen, but Canada is set up up well for Perez to bounce back. 

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is something of a hybrid track, sharing similarities with a street circuit; the type of venue that tends to bring out the best in Perez. 

Verstappen has taken pole in the last two races, but his colleague has clocked the fastest times in Saudi Arabia and Miami, and he could do with a repeat to improve his fading title aspirations.

Sainz a sneaky P1 contender

Working out who will be the closest challenger to Red Bull was already tricky enough before the forecast called for rain with Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari having taken it in turns to finish best of the rest this season.

This track sets up well in theory for the Scuderia, who can benefit from the long straights and expected lack of tyre degradation. The most comparable circuit to Montreal is Azerbaijan, where the Italians enjoyed their best weekend of the season with Charles Leclerc winning the sprint and taking second in the race.

Leclerc is historically the stronger qualifier than his Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz, taking 19 poles to the Spaniard's three, but he has been a little erratic this year. 

Leclerc's distrust of his SF23 is another red flag and Sainz could outqualify his team mate for the third time in four races having started from second in Spain. 

Aston advances amid Mercedes worries

Ferrari and Red Bull may have to watch out for Aston Martin on Saturday with the Silverstone-based outfit bringing a package of upgrades to Montreal. 

Aston are bullish on their chances with Fernando Alonso eyeing a podium place, while Lance Stroll is determined to produce a strong showing on home soil. 

Aston Martin don't view their car as a strong qualifying contender, but Alonso has started from the front row twice this season and has the bit between his teeth.

Mercedes are another team that tend to do their best work on a Sunday and the Silver Arrows are downplaying their chances of a strong weekend in Canada, despite being on an upward trend. 

Mercedes secured a double podium finish in Spain, but aren't confident of getting the best out of their upgraded W14 on this very different circuit. 

Water babies McLaren and Alpine may thrive

The potential for chaos in a wet qualifying session on a circuit with several trackside barriers is high and there could be opportunities to snip a few high grid spots.

First in line to do that are Alpine and McLaren, who looked quick in a rain-affected finish to the Monaco Grand Prix and performed well in cooler conditions in Spain. 

While Monte Carlo is a difficult comparison to any other circuit, their cars and drivers working well together in the wet is a plus, especially for McLaren's Lando Norris after he qualified third in Spain. 

Alpine's Pierre Gasly was fourth in Barcelona and it shouldn't come as a shock if the two teams are well represented in the top-10 shootout.

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