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Verstappen wins entertaining Canadian Grand Prix


We tweeted earlier that if Carlsberg did fairy-tale F1... Fernando Alonso would win today, with Nico Hulkenberg and Alex Albon joining him on the podium, while Max Verstappen would give Red Bull its 100th Grand Prix win at the Red Bull Ring.

Of course, we know that for drivers like Max, like Ayrton, Michael and Lewis, there is no room for sentiment in F1, certainly once the visor comes down and the lights go out.

Therefore we can expect Max to be giving it the, err... Max, from the outset today.

However, rather than Nico seeking to out-drag him to the infamous first corner, Max is joined by 'the animal', Fernando, who is equally unsentimental.

Unfortunately, Nico was one of several drivers hit with grid penalties following yesterday's qualifying session, the Montreal stewards kept busy late into the night.

Fernando will know that his best chance today is to beat Max into the first corner, or better still force him into a mistake, then again, the Dutchman, like his Spanish rival rarely makes mistakes.

Of course, there will be pressure from behind, particularly as we now have an all-Mercedes second row. Despite the double-podium in Spain, the Silver Arrows have been playing down their chances this weekend, though admittedly the cooler temperatures and very nature of the track do not really suit the W14.

Behind them come Nico, Esteban, the McLarens and Albon, who will be under pressure from the outset from the Ferraris and Sergio.

Carlos was hit with a much-deserved grid drop, while Charles once again fell victim to Ferrari's ability to save defeat from the jaws of victory, and as for Sergio...

With such drivers starting out of position there is the chance of an upset from the get-go, a situation not helped by the nature of the first complex of corners and the over ambitious desires of those around them.

Having had their fun on Friday and Saturday, the Weather Gods are looking to have today off, and though the cooler temperatures and wind will remain, we assured that there will be no rain.

Tyre choice and strategy is going to be key today, which doesn't bode well for Ferrari, also, as we witnessed last year, DRS can play a major role here.

Sensibly, overnight, following complaints from the drivers, the FIA has modified the barrier at Turn 1. On Friday and Saturday drivers who went wide had to drive along the extended wall, over the grass and kerb before turning right onto the track. Today, the shortened barrier means that drivers can rejoin the track deeper into Turn 2.

As the pitlane opens, the air temperature is 17 degrees C, while the track temperature is 28 degrees. It is actually warmer than the previous couple of days.

The pitlane opens and one by one the drivers head out. The track is quite dirty, which should add to the fun and games at the start and for the next couple of laps.

Russell is warned of an 11 km/h crosswind on the straight between the hairpin and the final corner.

Albon and Alonso are among the last to take their places on the grid.

Piastri is advised of a tailwind at Turn 10.

On the grid there is a lot of work going on at the rear of Albon's car. There also appears to be an issue with the underside of Leclerc's car.

According to Frederic Vasseur, Leclerc went over a kerb on his way to the grid and damaged the plank which the team is looking to change.

Fifteen minutes before the start and there's a major shock as the sun breaks through the clouds. That said, race control advises that there is a 10% chance of rain.

"We hope the car is good, but we don't know," says Toto Wolff. "But we are looking forward not backwards. I think Alonso is a wasp, in a positive sense, but depends if we are coming clean in the first corners. Max is in his own world and then we are fighting for P2."

"Very different today, different temperatures," says Christian Horner. "I'm sure Mercedes and Fernando will be fighting very hard. You know with Alonso he's going to go for it, he's a very hard racer. Between the front three of them, the first lap could be exciting."

"The wind, as you can feel, is gusting around a little bit," Russell is informed. "It's about 10 km/h at the moment."

All are starting on mediums, bar Perez, Magnussen and Bottas who are on hards, while Gasly in on softs. Only Albon is on used rubber.

Perez, the tyre whisperer, clearly looking at the long game.

In terms of strategy, a two stopper looks the more competitive, starting with the mediums and then switching to softs for the next two stints. A one stop, starting on hard and switching to medium, could be the choice for those starting from the second half of the grid, as it would allow them to have greater flexibility to deal with any eventualities, especially on a track where the Safety Car has often been called on to do plenty of laps."

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away cleanly.

The grid forms.

They're away! A great start from Verstappen, while Hamilton is alongside Alonso and ahead of him into Turn 1. Russell attempts to go around the outside of the Aston Martin in Turn 2, the pair in an out-and-our drag race to Turn 3, where Alonso slams the door.

Further back Leclerc is hard on the heels of the McLaren pair, while Albon attempts to hold off a battling Sainz and Pere. Indeed, Sainz and Perez are side-by-side into Turns 6/7, the Mexican finally getting the better of Sainz at the hairpin.

At the final corner Magnussen has to take avoiding action to avoid the battling Red Bull and Ferrari, the Dane opting for the run-off rather than being taken out by the warring duo.

At the end of Lap1, it's: Verstappen, Hamilton, Alonso, Russell, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Piastri, Norris, Leclerc and Albon.

Verstappen and Hamilton trade fastest sectors, as Russell hangs on to the rear of Alonso's Aston Martin.

Lap 3 sees Alonso post a new fastest lap (17.438), as he builds a 1.3s gap to Russell, behind whilst maintaining a 1.1s gap to Hamilton ahead.

"Give me feedback on strategy as soon as possible," says Russell. He is told to stick with Alonso who subsequently brushes the wall at Turn 4.

After 5 laps, as Verstappen builds a 1.8s lead, Alonso is all over Hamilton.

"We think this is more Plan A," Norris is told, "we're looking to extend."

Down in 11th, the Perez/Sainz battle continues.

Tsunoda pits at the end of Lap 6 Tsunoda pits, the Japanese switching to hards.

"I think they tyres are more vulnerable than P2," says Verstappen.

Sargeant has stopped at Turn 6. "Stop the car, stop the car, critical message," he is told.

Hulkenberg is under pressure from Norris and Leclerc as the VSC is deployed.

Moments later the VSC is withdrawn as Alonso continues to hassle Hamilton.

"Rear tyres are getting super-hot," says Hamilton, "I'm struggling."

Albon, Sainz and Perez have joined the train behind Hulkenberg.

Gasly pits at the end of Lap 10, the Alpine driver switching from softs to hards.

That Hulkenberg train now comprises 9 cars.

"I think I hit a bird," reports Verstappen as Hulkenberg dives into the pits and releases the train. Stroll and de Vries also pit.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Montreal here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 19/06/2023 13:02

"@Cobra Driver.... I'll volunteer the first dollar...Aussie Dollar [Pacific Peso ] that is haha"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Cobra Driver, 19/06/2023 8:26

"@kenji......right on the mark. Less driver aids and more driver raw talent. Establish a fund for unnecessary race engineers."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by kenji, 19/06/2023 4:00

"That race was quite boring really insofar as on track action was difficult to find. Yes, a few interesting moves but nothing to get excited about. IMO they, FIA, need to revise the DRS usage to try and eliminate these 'trains' as all that does is dumb the whole show down. Teams need to be given a DRS time cap and then let them work out their own plans. Now that would give races a far different complexion. EG, if a race is 70 laps long give all drivers 50 bursts of 5 secs. at each time. The figures I've used are purely arbitrary and not valid for any specific reason other that to provide a discussion point. This 'train' element is spoiling all the fun. I really want to see drivers racing and not relying on a 'device' to keep them safe."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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