Max Verstappen celebrates winning the Canadian Grand Prix for Red Bull Racing

Verstappen draws level with Senna

The Canadian Grand Prix has become one of the Formula 1 calendar’s most popular races, and it’s easy to see why. The surrounding area of Parc Jean-Drapeau, Notre Dame Island and the waters of the encircling St. Lawrence River provide a truly unique venue for a Grand Prix, one reminiscent of Melbourne’s Albert Park but with its own inherently Canadian identity. The track too, goes down particularly well with drivers and fans alike. Its combination of long straights and slow-speed corners presents a layout akin to that of a go kart track – as Lewis Hamilton will attest to – and as a result, has been the scene of some spectacular wheel-to-wheel action through the years.


The podium

Verstappen matches Senna’s win tally

Max Verstappen’s imperious 2023 form continued in Montreal, leading every lap as he has done since Lap 48 of the Miami Grand Prix in May. The Red Bull Racing domination may not have been quite as pronounced as in recent races, but the Dutch driver still held a comfortable nine-second advantage at the flag. The only blemish on a near-perfect Canadian Grand Prix scorecard for Verstappen being a close call with the Turn 9 barrier, after bumping across the sausage kerb on Lap 65, similar to George Russell’s Safety Car-inducing incident earlier in the race. Verstappen’s latest victory sees him match the late great Ayrton Senna’s win count of 41, but with Alain Prost just 10 ahead, it’s feasible that he will match the French driver this season as well.


Hamilton and Alonso lock horns

Fans were treated to another vintage edition of Lewis Hamilton vs Fernando Alonso at the Canadian Grand Prix. Having leapfrogged his old rival off the line and with his teammate close behind in fourth, the Mercedes driver looked to have the measure of the Aston Martin during the opening stint. When George Russell hit the wall and took on damage that would prove terminal later in the race, the Safety Car was deployed. Despite a close call in the pitlane, the pair emerged from their first stops in the same order, but Alonso wasn’t prepared to sit behind the #44 car any longer, and made his move at the final chicane on Lap 22. A switch to the medium compound Pirelli tyres for Hamilton in the final stint enabled him to close the gap to Alonso but ultimately, he was unable to get past and had to settle for third place.

Lewis Hamilton on track at the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix


The points

Resurgent in red

It wasn’t the finest qualifying hour for the prancing horse during Saturday’s sodden grid-deciding session. Having been caught out by the tricky conditions and Carlos Sainz receiving a penalty for impeding another driver, the scarlet cars lined up in P10 and P11. Both drivers made a decent start, but their momentum quickly stalled as they joined the troublesome DRS train. It wasn’t until the Safety Car deployment that the race really came alive for Sainz and Charles Leclerc, with the duo staying out on the mediums until Lap 39 and 40, gaining valuable track position. When they emerged from their sole pit stop, Leclerc and Sainz had retained fourth and fifth position respectively and held onto them until the flag. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez followed them home in sixth but failed to challenge the Scuderia at any point during the 70-lap contest.


Classic Albon defending

An impressive wet-weather performance in qualifying would see Alexander Albon top of the timesheets in Q2’s changeable conditions and line up P10. Like the Ferrari team, Williams employed a clever use of the one-stop strategy to gain track position, vaulting Albon up to seventh where he masterfully fended off the chasing pack – at times featuring upwards of five cars – for the second half of the race. The Thai driver scored the team’s best result since Russell’s podium at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, and was followed home by Estaban Ocon in eighth, Lance Stroll who gained seven positions over his grid slot and Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo.

Alexander Albon in his Williams F1 car ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix


Best of the rest

Out of the points but no less motivated

Although points were off the table for the remaining drivers, the positions were just as hotly contested, and the racing was just as cutthroat. For much of the race, this group of cars were separated by the smallest of margins, and one mistake could see a driver drop several positions in the space of a few corners. The Mclarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris finished in P11 and P13 respectively, the latter having been demoted from ninth after backing up the pack to benefit a double stack pitstop under the Safety Car.


Pierre Gasly, meanwhile, struggled to make serious inroads after a disappointing qualifying and finished P12. Yuki Tsunoda once again had a mature and consistent drive, getting the most out of the AlphaTauri to finish P14 while Nico Hülkenberg was unable to convert his impressive fifth on the grid into anything more than P15. Zhou Guanyu finished in P16, then came the squabbling pair of Kevin Magnussen and Nyck de Vries, whose trip down the escape road at Turn 3 ensured they were the last of the classified runners in P17 and P18 respectively.

Yuki Tsunoda in his AlphaTauri at the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix


On the sidelines

Heavy contact with the barrier on Lap 12 meant that the Mercedes of George Russell dropped to last place. Having stayed out while others pitted, he expertly negotiated the midfield, then Russell began pressuring his good friend Albon for seventh. Ultimately, the damage sustained earlier in the race proved too much, and he retired on Lap 53 with a braking issue. Logan Sargeant’s race was short-lived as he pulled off to the side of the track with engine trouble on Lap 6.


WATCH: 2023 Canadian Grand Prix Highlights


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