The Small Sector: The Canadian Grand Prix

Another race weekend down and another week of Redbull domination, well almost. The Canadian Grand Prix was a mixed bag for the top four teams and by the time the chequered flag fell on Sunday evening, it was Ferrari that had managed to get both of their drivers into the top 5. But, this was far from the only surprise that Montreal had in store, from unpredictable weather that caught some drivers out to penalties galore, here’s a recap of everything that went down during F1’s weekend in Canada.

Penalties, penalties and more penalties

Before any competitive running could even get underway, there was already discontent amongst drivers with how they were being blocked on their laps by slowing moving cars, in the final practice session of the weekend, Sainz was summoned to the stewards over an impeding infringement and whilst he faced no penalty for this it wouldn’t be the last time that he would be called to see the stewards. Joining Sainz in the stewards room was Stroll, Tsunoda, Hulkenberg and Norris, with the first 3 receiving a 3 place grid penalty, and Norris being hit with a 5 second penalty at the end of the race for ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’. At previous races the one thing that everyone called for was consistency, and although there were a few unsafe releases that went unpunished, despite looking like slam dunk penalties, it must be said that this weekend did provide a sense of regularity from the FIA that can only be welcomed moving forward.

A tale of two halves

As I previously alluded to, none of the top four teams really had a straight forward weekend. It was as though they were fighting with one hand tied behind their back as when one half of the garage was doing well the other was underperforming. We saw in qualifying with Perez, Leclerc and Stroll getting knocked out in Q2 whilst their teammates progressed onto Q3 and then again in the race when Russell collided with the wall whilst his teammate went on to get his second consecutive podium. By the time we reached the end of the race on Sunday, Ferrari had managed to consolidate a strong recovery drive by getting both Sainz and Leclerc into the top 5, the others were not so lucky as Russell had to retire, Stroll scraped into the top 10 by the skin of his teeth and Checo rounded out the top 6. Although it was an uncharacteristic mistake for Russell that saw him make an early departure from the Grand Prix, the more pressing issue at hand is that Stroll and Checo are consistently underperforming and it’s starting to become a bad habit that neither of them can shake. When you look at the cars that they’re in and what their teammates are able to do each weekend there is really no excuse as to why they are trailing so far behind and it’s starting to become a hindrance for Aston martin at least as Mercedes still retain their lead in the Constructors Standings even with one car out of the race.

Record breaking race weekend

In perhaps the most predictable news from the Canadian Grand Prix, round 9 of the 2023 season saw Verstappen equal the same amount of victories as the legendary Ayrton Senna, as well as Redbull scoring their 100th win in Formula 1 and to top it all off, Adrian Newey also scored a 200th victory with a car that he had designed. The podium at the end of the race was quite a sight to behold as it is easily one of the most iconic top 3’s that we’ve seen in the history of the sport. When looking at the drivers on the current F1 grid it’s difficult to argue that we don’t have one of the most competitive fields in recent memory, the new talent can go toe to toe with the world champions, keeping the battles that much more interesting at each race weekend.

Coming to a close

As my round up on the Canadian Grand Prix draws to a close there a few standouts from the weekend the demand recognition, starting with Albon securing P7 for Williams. On the face of it, P7 seems like an extremely ordinary place to finish and would usually be nothing to write home about but with 4 top teams essentially locking out the first 8 positions on the grid leaving the rest of the midfield to fight for the two remaining point positions, Albon breaking into the top 7 is something to be celebrated. He did not put a foot wrong for the entirety of the weekend and his hard work paid off in the race as he managed to hold back the rest of the midfield in a tense battle that had me on the edge of my seat. The upgrades on the Williams’ car seemed to have worked and Albon is absolutely maximising everything that he can as he is driving out of skin at the moment and is single-handedly carrying the Williams team up the grid.

Next we have to mention Hulkenberg, his pre-penalty P2 in qualifying was probably the feel-good story of the weekend as I don’t think anyone would’ve believed you if you’d said that Haas would be sitting on the front row come Saturday. Although his success was short lived, it’s not the first time that Haas have shown that they can capitalise off of tricky weather conditions, as you’ll remember Magnussen taking pole position in Brazil last year under similar circumstances. I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that this will be a regular occurrence for the only American team on the grid, but it does add a bit more anticipation to an F1 weekend when you know that anything can happen.

And last but not least we have to discuss Ferrari’s strategy.  As Saturday came to an end we all thought Ferrari were just being Ferrari with their drivers lining up P10 and P11 on Sunday, so when we saw that they had actually pulled of a solid strategy that got their drivers into the top 5 I think everyone was in slight disbelief. It initially looked as though their race was heading on a downwards spiral as they chose not to pit under the safety car, but they managed to make the tires work somehow and recover a great result which I hope is the light at the end of the tunnel for Ferrari.

Another race weekend down and another week of Redbull domination, well almost. The Canadian Grand Prix was a mixed bag for the top four teams and by the time the chequered flag fell on Sunday evening, it was Ferrari that had managed to get both of their drivers into the top 5. But, this was…

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