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Montreal Takeaways: Max's 41st win, Red Bull's century

Montreal Takeaways: Max’s 41st win, Red Bull’s century

Montreal Takeaways: Max's 41st win, Red Bull's century

Max Verstappen took his 41st Formula 1 career win at the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix on his way to delivering Red Bull their 100th, a major milestone for a young driver and his relatively young team.

The reference to Verstappen’s youth here is a mere reference to his 25 years, which means he has quite some time ahead of him to achieve much more in the sport, as on the experience front, he lacks none being currently on his ninth season in top flight. How time flew since the Dutch teenager stepped into an F1 car back in 2015 before even turning 18.

Although a direct comparison doesn’t work between different F1 eras, Max equaling the great Ayrton Senna’s tally of wins holds a great sentimental value to say the least.

As for Red Bull Racing, who are in F1 for their 19th season (they started in 2005), achieving their 100th win puts them in fifth on the list of most winning Constructors, 14 shy of Williams in fourth who in comparison have been around for 48 seasons. Mercedes have 125 wins to their name in third while McLaren’s 183 are second to Ferrari’s 242.

Ferrari have raced in F1 for 72 seasons, averaging 3.36 wins/season, while Red Bull averaged 5.26 wins/season over their 19 years. An impressive hit rate for the energy drinks outfit, also bearing in mind the differences of eras.

But enough with statistics. Going back to the race in Montreal last Sunday, one cannot deny that it was not very exciting, especially if you consider the thrilling rainy Qualifying we enjoyed on Saturday.

Here are theTakeaways from the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix.

A podium of royalty

Sending Adrian Newey up the podium to receive Red Bull’s Constructors’ trophy was a fitting gesture from the team to their design genius who has drawn up seven winning RB’s over his tenure.

And the fact that we had Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton as the top three drivers in the race made it a podium of F1 Royalty spanning several generations.

Max is going on with his relentless mission of re-writing the F1 record books with his abundance of natural talent, and his continuous development and growth towards being a complete driver, and while that might put off “some” who want to see a different winner every race, the hard fact is: Another part of our sport’s history is in the making and we get the privilege to witness a genius at work.

As for Fernando, the man keeps defying logic and time, delivering blistering pace race after race, lap after lap, his 41 years a mere number. That 33rd win will happen no doubt, even more, just a matter of time.

Lewis, on the other hand, seems to be rejuvenated with his upgraded Black Arrow proving yet again why he is a seven-time F1 Champion, the way he and his Aston Martin counterpart traded blows throughout the race in Montreal was a joy to watch.

Lewis said: “It’s quite an honour to be up on the podium with two other world champions.”

Well we are fortunate to be following F1 in an era when the likes of Verstappen, Alonso, and Hamilton are driving cars, the likes of Newey are designing.

Ferrari: What could have been

Ferrari had a tough race in Spain despite having upgraded their SF-23, and the expectations were that another difficult weekend was on the cards for them in Montreal, especially that they didn’t know the reason behind their struggles last time.

However, early signs from Friday showed that the Prancing Horses were in the mix for a top result as their one-lap pace was good, and surprisingly their race pace was too. Not good to beat Verstappen of course, but enough to take the fight to Mercedes and Aston Martin.

But then came Qualifying, and the team shot Charles Leclerc in the foot in Q2, not putting him on the slick tyres in time to put in a dry lap before the rain came and that was it, his fate was sealed and he didn’t make the top ten shootout.

In the other Ferrari, Carlos Sainz was slightly better, but his weekend was marred with errors, be it the multiple impeding incidents which he cannot be fully faulted for as the pit wall shoulders some blame, or his silly crash in FP3.

In the race, Ferrari’s decision to stay out under the Safety Car initially seemed to be another stupid call from their strategists, as knowing their chronic tyre degradation issues, they should’ve jumped at the opportunity of a free pit stop.

But they proved to be on the money, confident their tyres were holding on well, and made a decent jump up the order to finish fourth and fifth.

Had it not been for the bad strategy that ruined Leclerc’s qualifying and Sainz’s overall problems, the Reds should’ve been able to achieve a better result given how the SF-23’s performed. A case of what could’ve been.

Mercedes and Aston Martin now level on performance?

Mercedes jumped Aston Martin in the pecking order in the previous race in Spain, and that was normal as the eight-time F1 Constructors’ Champions upgraded their W14 since Monaco, while the first major upgrade package bolted on Aston Martin’s AMR23 came in Canada.

From what we’ve seen in Canada, Aston Martin still had the edge on Mercedes in qualifying (with Alonso that is), but the latter were much better in the race with Hamilton and Alonso slugging it out for the runner up position.

Aston Martin were hoping to recover the ground they lost to Mercedes after Barcelona, and they did, while Mercedes were better than they said they will be in Montreal. Both were closer to Verstappen in the race, but whether that was because of the characteristics of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, or Verstappen managing the pace, is debatable.

But it was great to see old foes Hamilton and Alonso trading blows again, the former chasing relentlessly, the latter cunningly managing his pace and keeping just enough in hand to pull off a gap towards the end.

Red Bull may well be out of reach, but with Aston Martin and Mercedes now very close performance-wise, that might become to point of interest for us going forward knowing there is no hope to beat Red Bull and Verstappen.

The second place might be the first of the losers, but in this case the fight for it might get really interesting especially with the history Lewis and Fernando have going back to their days as McLaren teammates in 2007.

Montreal Quick Hits

  • What a great drive by Alex Albon in Montreal. Williams’ strategy in Qualifying was spot on when they sent him out on dry tyres in Q2, but he also nailed the lap. His defensive driving in the race was admirable. Granted his Williams FW45 is very slippery and hard to catch on the straights, but he didn’t put a foot wrong or crack under pressure.
  • I wonder if Sergio Perez still thinks he can beat Verstappen…
  • Great performance from Nico Hulkenberg in Qualifying which reminded us of his 2010 pole in Brazil in similar conditions. Too bad he got that penalty though.
  • Montreal was another weekend where George Russell was outperformed by Hamilton, and his crash in the race is one of those mistakes the young Briton shouldn’t be doing anymore. Pushing too hard?
  • He may have joked about it, but Verstappen’s incident with the kerbs may have put him in the wall like Russell. Is he being too relaxed? Complacent? If so he shouldn’t be no matter how good he or his car is…