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Canadian GP Takeaways: An entertaining weekend

Canadian Grand Prix Takeaways: An entertaining weekend

Canadian GP Takeaways: An entertaining weekend

The 2024 Canadian GP was an entertaining Formula 1 race with mixed weather conditions spicing up an event that was already highly anticipated due to several uncertainties.

We went into last F1’s latest weekend in Montreal not knowing who would be favourite, or let’s put it this way: We did not know whether Red Bull will struggle or not.

Based on Monaco, Ferrari should’ve been favourites as their SF-24 was superb dealing with kerbs which meant it could tackle the slow chicanes of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve nicely, but it didn’t.

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McLaren were downplaying their chances and kept their powder dry till the end of qualifying and the race, and as for Mercedes, well they have always been talking about the progress they were doing, but honestly, we stopped believing them.

However, the eight-time Constructors’ Champions delivered this time, George Russell bagging pole, having scored an identical lap time to Max Verstappen, but before the latter did. Riveting stuff!

The race was gripping, as the favorite driver for the win changed with every phase of the race. Russell, Verstappen and Lando Norris all were candidates, but in the end, it was the reigning F1 Champ who prevailed.

So let’s head into our takeaways from the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix.

Ferrari go from hero to zero

Ferrari rue a Canadian GP to forget

Watching Ferrari in Canada, it was hard to believe that same team dominated the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago, when Charles Leclerc won from pole and Carlos Sainz finished third.

Norris was playing mind games stating Ferrari were favorites in Canada, and on paper, they should have, but it seems the pressure got to them and they failed miserably.

The two Red Cars were out of qualifying in Q2 and frankly, they were not convincing even in practice, and while the race should’ve been a chance to recover, Ferrari hit another low with Leclerc retiring with power unit problems, while Sainz ended his race, along with poor Alex Albon’s in a late-race silly error.

Now, F1 teams are bound to have these kind of weekends, but it was untimely for Ferrari to be honest, especially after Monaco where they closed the gap to Verstappen and Red Bull in both Championships, which increased the pressure on the reigning Champs which would’ve made matter more interesting seeing how they would react.

But after Canada, Verstappen extended his lead over Leclerc, and the next race (Barcelona) should favor Red Bull on paper as the track layout has none of the RB20’s Achille’s Heels, but then, it is a long season and we are still at 9 out of 24 grands prix, so let’s not lose hope of a close Title fight just yet.

Verstappen and Red Bull rise to the occasion

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 09: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Second placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren and Third placed George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes celebrate on the podium after the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 09, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202406091119 // Usage for editorial use only //
While pace-wise, the RB20 was not as bad in Canada as it was in Monaco, but then the Honda power unit decided to misbehave meaning Verstappen missed out on most of FP2.

Then there was the weather that was mixing things up with dry qualifying, and a wet race, meaning it was tricky for the teams to setup their cars with both in mind, but Red Bull perfected that.

With Mercedes rising as the fastest team ahead of qualifying, Verstappen did well to lineup second on the grid alongside Russell on a day when qualifying sessions couldn’t get any closer – Russell and Verstappen on equal times with Norris just 0.021s behind.

The race was always about who made the least mistakes, and while Verstappen had a moment while chasing Russell down early on, he kept it clean after that and with some masterful decision making from the Red Bull pit wall, win #60 for the triple F1 Champ was in the bag.

Norris, on the other hand, missed out on win #2 after he stayed out a lap too late when the field was switching to slicks, which meant Verstappen’s tyres, having boxed earlier, were in their proper operating temperature when Norris emerged from the pits on cold tyres, and simply raced to the flag.

This shows again that winning Championships is not always about having the fastest car. McLaren’s MCL38 was arguably the fastest race car in Canada and they did not win. Some will say the Safety Car did not benefit Norris like it did in Miami, but these things happens and a team has to react to them.

Red Bull simply managed their Canadian GP to perfection.

Have Mercedes finally unlocked the W15’s potential?

Mercedes came to the Canadian GP with fully upgraded cars for both Russell and Lewis Hamilton, and they took everyone by surprise when the topped the final practice, entering qualifying as favorites for pole.

And while Hamilton was faster in FP3, it was Russell that led Mercedes qualifying charge, taking pole while Hamilton was only seventh.

As aforementioned, the Canadian GP was always going to be about who made the least mistakes, and sadly Russell wasn’t that driver. The Briton, hailed as Mercedes’ future after the departure of Hamilton, still shows vulnerability in close racing conditions and always requires encouraging messages from the big boss Toto Wolff in order to keep things under control.

We have to give him credit that he has been outqualifying Hamilton more often than not since they became teammates, but as they say, points are awarded at the end of the race, and Russell needs to get his act together if he is really to assume the team leader role at Mercedes.

In his defense, Russell admitted he could’ve done better, same applies to Hamilton who was also conceded he did too many mistakes, but admission is not enough, learning and improving are key.

As for Mercedes, the big question remains: Was their Canadian GP form genuine or a fluke? Barcelona was reveal the truth.

Canadian GP Quick Hits

Alex Albon's double overtake (Onboard & Helicopter pov) | F1 Canadian GP

  • A shoutout to Albon for that magnificent pass on Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon. It took balls to get it done, especially when one of the drivers you are attempting to pass was Ocon.
    It’s just a pity that Albon’s race ended in the barriers, through no fault of his, after Sainz took him out.
  • A contrasting situation at Williams was Logan Sargeant in the other car. Honestly when is enough actually enough?
  • That was a horrible weekend for Sergio Perez, not the sort of repayment Red Bull were expecting after handing him a two-year contract extension.
    Perez started off the 2024 F1 season strongly, and should bounce back immediately or he will risk going into a downward spiral which would prove costly.
    When asked about Perez’s contract renewal, Yuki Tsunoda – who hoped to be Verstappen’s teammate – noted that despite the new contract, the Mexican has to perform… Very true.
  • Haas’ decision to start their drivers on full wet tyres was always going to backfire as these tyres get destroyed the moment the track starts to dry, so knowing when to pit was always going to be tricky and Haas did not pull it off.
    However it was fun to see the way Kevin Magnussen ripped through the field at the start of the race.
  • A double points finish for Aston Martin, and Fernando Alonso’s fight with Hamilton was one of the race highlights, but you can’t help but feel that Aston are gradually falling into anonymity…