RACE DEBRIEF

    The Canadian Grand Prix returns for the first time since 2019, and this time around, things are markedly different as the field looks to beat Red Bull at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Here is the Form Guide for this weekend’s race at Montreal.

    Vying for pole

    As we haven’t had a Canadian Grand Prix for two seasons, the form book is resting perilously on the windowsill, on the verge of defenestration. Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton had the run of this place from 2015-19 but now the new guard has taken over, in the form of Max Verstappen in his Red Bull and Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari. Plus, Sergio Perez has put himself in the mix after winning at Monaco.

    Leclerc seems to be the man to beat on Saturdays, the Ferrari driver having taken pole position in the last four Grands Prix, Verstappen’s sole qualifying win having come at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. One could assume that Leclerc is therefore favourite to do it again this weekend.

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    Leclerc is on a streak of four consecutive pole positions heading to Canada

    It’s not easy to get five consecutive pole positions, however, Lewis Hamilton being the last driver to do so in a stretch from the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix to the 2020 Russian Grand Prix. Last season, Verstappen managed the longest pole streak with four from France to Great Britain. So, expect Leclerc’s run to come to an end some point soon... surely?

    And if that run does come to an end, either Verstappen, Perez or, at a stretch, Carlos Sainz, stand the best chance of taking P1 on the grid.

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    Pole positions in the last five races:

    • 2019 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
    • 2018 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
    • 2017 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2016 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2015 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

    FAN VIEW: We have a three-horse race for pole at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, with Sergio Perez joining team mate Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the race for P1 on Saturday. Despite Leclerc’s run of four consecutive poles, he is second in the F1 Play voting, with Verstappen a clear favourite.

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    Verstappen is the man to beat on Sunday, but hasn't taken pole position since Imola

    In the mix for victory

    Mercedes have won four of the last five Canadian Grands Prix, but will they do it again? Well, after the Silver Arrows’ struggles around Azerbaijan, it wouldn’t be wise to back them. They are outsiders – and it seems this could be a fight between Red Bull and Ferrari once again.

    Ferrari have faced their troubles in recent races, a double-DNF compounding their woes in Azerbaijan as, once again, Leclerc lost valuable points and a chance to fight for victory. As a result, Red Bull have won five races in a row, with Leclerc still on two wins this season.

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    It may seem that Red Bull have been fortunate, given Ferrari’s recent reliability struggles, but the fact is that their RB18s have superior race pace and straight-line speed. The team haven’t been on the pace on Saturday but their uptick in form for Sunday implies that they have made the trade-off between qualifying pace and race pace, and it’s paying off.

    So Red Bull are definitely favourites once again, but surely Ferrari will fight back sometime? With Canada coming just one week after Azerbaijan, it’s doubtful that the Scuderia have solved their reliability issues – but they may well have made some inroads into finding a solution.

    A front-row start will still be crucial here; not since 2014 has the Canadian Grand Prix been won from outside the front row, when Daniel Ricciardo took his maiden win from P6 on the grid.

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    Wins in the last five races:

    • 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2018 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
    • 2017 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2016 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2015 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

    FAN VIEW: If Leclerc has dominated Saturdays in recent races, Verstappen is the king on Sundays. Four wins in his last five races mean the Dutchman is a heavy favourite in the early F1 Play voting for the win in Canada. He has almost double the number of votes that Leclerc has, with Perez the only other notable contender.

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    Ferrari have shown the pace to win, but reliability has hurt them in recent races

    Podium outsiders

    After George Russell pounced on that brace of Ferrari retirements in Azerbaijan, it’s become even more evident that Mercedes are the most likely team to land on the podium when the front-runners falter. Given Hamilton’s prowess around here, perhaps he’s due for a surprise podium this weekend.

    Of course, Ferrari and Red Bull are expected to occupy the top-three spots, but Canada has been known to make room for three teams on the rostrum; in 2018 we saw Verstappen (Red Bull), Vettel (Ferrari) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) take to the podium and in 2016 Bottas – driving a Williams – joined Vettel and Hamilton.

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    So, it’s not out of the question that three teams could stand on the podium this time around. Other than Mercedes, expect McLaren – Lando Norris and Ricciardo itching to give the team their 400th podium in F1 – and AlphaTauri to challenge, the latter given their turn of pace that culminated in P5 for Pierre Gasly at Baku.

    Alpine’s Fernando Alonso is also due a strong result. He’s picked up the pace recently and shrugged off the misfortune that saw him fail to score from Saudi Arabia to Miami inclusive.

    Podiums in the last five races:

    • Mercedes – 7
    • Ferrari – 4
    • Red Bull – 2
    • Williams – 2

    FAN VIEW: Not surprisingly, it is the big six dominating the F1 Play voting for podium places on Sunday, with Carlos Sainz, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton the outsiders of that group. There is also interest in Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), who both performed well in Azerbaijan.

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    The last F1 Canadian Grand Prix podium

    Points potential

    Eight of the 10 teams on the grid have scored points in the last three races, only Haas and Williams failing to score in that time – the former team on a drought of four point-less showings.

    Haas, however, were on the cusp of scoring in Azerbaijan, before Kevin Magnussen suffered his second consecutive retirement. And Alex Albon put in a solid shift for Williams, finishing 12th.

    The teams lower down the order who seem most llkely to score in Canada, however, are McLaren, AlphaTauri and Alpine – all three having picked up top-10 finishes in Azerbaijan.

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    Aston Martin are also beginning a run of form, as, after failing to score for the first three races, they’ve taken four top-10 finishes, including P6 through Vettel last time out at Baku.

    As Canada hasn’t hosted a Grand Prix since 2019, four drivers will be making their respective Canadian GP debuts this weekend: local hero Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu and Mick Schumacher. Of those four, Zhou and Tsunoda are looking the most likely to score points, having been unfortunate not to in Azerbaijan.

    Points in the last five races:

    • Mercedes – 187
    • Ferrari – 132
    • Red Bull – 76
    • Williams – 40
    • Racing Point/Force India – 31
    • Renault – 28
    • Lotus – 7
    • Toro Rosso – 3
    • Haas – 1
    • Sauber – 1

    FAN VIEW: F1 Play gamers believe Gasly and Vettel are pretty much nailed on for points in Canada, along with Fernando Alonso of Alpine. There is also good support for Gasly’s AlphaTauri team mate Yuki Tsunoda, while McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) are not without backers.