Starting from free practice one on Friday, Max Verstappen was the best driver at the Canadian Grand Prix. All weekend, Verstappen made topping the timing sheets look routine. Verstappen entered the weekend as the betting favorite to win the Canadian Grand Prix. It should go without saying that Verstappen will be the betting favorite to win the British Grand Prix when Formula 1 returns to Silverstone.
Despite a wet qualifying session, Verstappen showed the pace and touch of a champion, putting in a perfect performance and finishing almost seven-tenths of a second ahead of second place. Verstappen led the race from lights out, never truly under threat from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen’s win at the Canadian Grand Prix was Red Bull’s sixth win in a row, with Verstappen scoring five of those wins. Red Bull has the fastest car on the grid, two drivers in the top two spots of the Driver’s Championship, and a lead in the Constructors’ championship: something Red Bull hasn’t experienced since 2011. Red Bull will be looking to move one win closer to tying their consecutive win record of 9, set by Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
Wet Qualifying = A Mixed-Up Grid
A wet qualifying session and grid penalties led to a truly mixed-up starting grid on Sunday. As a consequence of Ferrari’s reliability woes, Charles Leclerc took new engine components for his first grid penalty of the year, eliminating Leclerc from qualifying before the weekend truly began. Qualifying betting favorite Leclerc set a better time than Yuki Tsunoda in qualifying 1, allowing Leclerc to start from P19, rather than P20.
Sergio Perez is horrible in wet conditions. Not long after Alex Albon slid off the track at turn 5, Perez slid off the track at turn three, crashing into a wall. Despite getting the car in reverse, Checo was unable to move the car, ending up qualifying 13th on the grid.
Formula 1 is better with Fernando Alonso on the grid. Whether he is stretching interpretations of the rules, holding up half the grid, first lap excellence, or battling with the likes of Vettel and Hamilton, Alonso always provides something to talk about over a race weekend.
Montreal was no exception. Alonso looked genuinely fast all weekend in the Alpine, consistently putting in competitive lap times. A wet qualifying session is a time for midfield teams and backmarkers to seize an opportunity. Alonso did that, sticking his Alpine on the front row, next to Verstappen. Engine problems and tire strategy left Alonso fighting to keep his place while falling down the order, rather than fighting for a podium during the Grand Prix.
George Russell knows how to seize the opportunity of a wet qualifying session. Russell’s qualifying lap from the 2021 Belgium Grand Prix, in changing conditions, is one of the greatest laps in Formula 1 history. That lap landed Russell’s Williams on the front row, scoring the most unlikely podium. Russell rolled the dice again in changing conditions in Montreal. However, the magic wasn’t there and Russell didn’t score a better time, qualifying 8th.
The Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher had the team’s best qualifying performance in years. Haas occupied the third row, with Magnussen qualifying fifth and Schumacher sixth. However, Haas’ run of success did not extend from qualifying to the race.
How the Race Was Won
Verstappen took the lead from lights out, and fought off a late safety-car enabled charge from Sainz to win. Mercedes continued to show consistency—and potentially a better quality ride in race trim—with Lewis Hamilton and Russel finishing 3rd and fourth. Leclerc’s recovery drive through the field wasn’t as quick as anticipated, however, Leclerc did manage to finish fifth.
The story of the race was truly tire strategy and safety cars. Red Bull’s Perez continued to have a substandard weekend on Sunday. Perez’s gearbox failed on lap 7, bringing out the first virtual safety car of the race, and a series of pit stops. This led to a mixed-up grid, on varying tires and strategies.
Schumacher was driving well all weekend before his Ferrari-powered Haas suffered a power issue on lap 18. This failure provided another opportunity to stop. For his part, Alonso stayed out during both of these virtual safety car periods, ultimately affecting his race pace and finishing time. Alsono also lost two grid places for excessive weaving on the final lap of the race, dropping him from seventh on the track, to 9th in the standings.
However, it was Tsunoda’s crash on lap 47 that changed the complexion of the race. A full safety car was deployed, bunching up the field and breathing new life into Ferrari’s chances to overtake Verstappen and Red Bull. However, Sainz was never really able to close the gap and
threaten Verstappen for the lead.
Looking Ahead: Silverstone and the British Grand Prix
Formula 1 leaves my home and native land, returning to Europe and one of the most iconic tracks on the calendar, the home of British motorsport: Silverstone. Leclerc was the betting favorite for the Canadian Grand Prix’s qualifying and would have been in contention for pole position if it were not for engine penalties. Look for Leclerc to be the favorite and likely pole sitter on Sunday.
Who’s betting against Red Bull and Verstappen to win the British Grand Prix? Eventually, someone will break Red Bull’s grip on the top step of the podium – I’m looking at you, Ferrari – but until it happens, how can you bet against the run of dominance from Red Bull? I can’t. It’s all too likely that a Red Bull car will win the British Grand Prix, and the winning car will likely have the number 1 on the livery.
The British Grand Prix takes place from July 1st—3rd, 2022.