Max Verstappen extended his championship lead andmatched Ayrton Senna for career wins when he won the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix.
While Verstappen eased his way to a sixth win this season, the championship battle between Mercedes and Aston Martin heated up and scrutiny on a few drivers has increased. How did the drivers fair at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve?
Max Verstappen –9
Qualified: P1, Race: P1
The sight of Max Verstappen almost effortlessly controlling races has become customary in 2023, and the Canadian Grand Prix was no different.
Teed up by a superb display of wet weather driving on Saturday to take pole, the reigning champion drove a mature race and hardly put a foot wrong all weekend. Once again, a class ahead.
Sergio Perez – 4
Qualified: P12, Race: P6
On paper, Perez’s recovery from P12 to P6 could be spun as a successful race for the Mexican. the truth, however, is far from it. For the fourth time in eight races, Perez has failed to make Q3. While one occasion, Australia, can be attributed to mechanical issues, Perez will know he can not afford to relieve Verstappen of any pressure unnecessarily.
Perez struggled for pace, but desire too seemed to be absent from his drive. The 69 point deficit to Verstappen, with the Dutchman’s form, seems insurmountable even in equal machinery.
Questions will be being asked about whether Perez has a future at Red Bull. Currently, the results simply haven’t been good enough, and the Canadian Grand Prix was another tough blow for the Mexican.
Lewis Hamilton – 9
Qualified: P4 (Started: P3), Race: P3
Hamilton made a tremendous start to take P2 from Alonso before the first corner. The two veterans would then battle it out for the remainder of the race, but Alonso was ultimately the victor this time round.
Mercedes have certainly recovered ground to Aston Martin as exemplified by the duel between Alonso and Hamilton, but are still not quite there. Regardless, a drive that showed a refreshed Hamilton who is clearly maximising the W14.
George Russell – 5.5
Qualified: P5 (Started: P4), Race: DNF
Mercedes were desperate to maintain the momentum from their double podium in Spain into a repeat result at the Canadian Grand Prix. With Perez and the Ferrari’s out of sight on Sunday, it should have been a comfortable afternoon for the Silver Arrows.
Russell had been just off the pace of Hamilton all weekend, and sought to get involved in the tussle for 2nd place during the race. His hopes were over when he collided with the wall at the Turn 7/8 chicane on lap 12.
When it looked like his day was over, Mercedes fitted the now rather second-hand W14 with the hard tyres and Russell bounced back to 8th. However, he was unable to challenge Albon and would later retire due to an overheating front-left brake
Carlos Sainz – 6.5
Qualified: P8 (Started: P11), Race: P5
Sainz’s Saturday was disrupted by a crash in the late stages of FP3. While Ferrari were able to repair the car in time for qualifying, Sainz was unable to nail his Q3 lap and ended up out of position on the grid. This was worsened when he received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Gasly in Q3.
Another recovery drive required for a big name and Sainz got off to a good start in fending off Perez in the opening phase. He managed to keep ahead of the Red Bull for the full race distance, but his race was dampened by Ferrari’s instruction to not challenge teammate Leclerc for P4.
Despite the team orders, Sainz kept close to Leclerc and contributed to a strong points haul for Ferrari.
Charles Leclerc – 6.5
Qualified: P11 (Started: P10), Race: P4
Leclerc too endured a frustrating Saturday and was eliminated from Q2. The Monegasque driver vented about Ferrari’s strategy in the mixed conditions in Q2, and the team ultimately missed the small window of dry running.
His race was well-executed, with Ferrari benefitting from keeping both cars out under the safety car to gain track position. The strategy call wouldn’t bring Ferrari into podium contention, but Leclerc led a well-managed race for the Scuderia.
Fernando Alonso – 9
Qualified: P3 (Started: P2), Race: P2
Despite losing out to Lewis Hamilton off the line, Fernando Alonso produced yet another strong drive for Aston Martin. The Spaniard regained second place in the early stages of the second stint, and even kept Verstappen honest throughout.
Alonso was forced to lift and coast extensively during the race due to a wrongly suspected fuel system problem, but when he was cleared to push, he had covered Hamilton effectively.
Once again, Alonso was at home in the AMR23, unlike his teammate.
Lance Stroll – 6
Qualified: P13 (Started: P16), Race: P9
Lawrence Stroll had set Lance the target of a podium for his home grand prix. It was clear that those goals were virtually unattainable after qualifying.
Stroll made a series of mistakes in Q2 which saw him again fall adrift of where the car is capable of performing.
While he was able to recover to P9, it is imperative that Stroll begins to bring home larger points hauls to add value to the mastery of Alonso.
Esteban Ocon – 7
Qualified: P6 , Race: P8
Ocon’s Canadian Grand Prix was another case of the Frenchman flying under the radar. Running fifth at one stage, Ocon expectedly lost out to the two Ferrari’s and Sergio Perez.
Perhaps more surprising was that Alpine and Ocon were caught out and held off by Alex Albon. Ocon was unable to find a way past the Williams, but he defended well against Lando Norris and others in the scrap for the lower points positions.
Pierre Gasly – 6
Qualified: P17 (Started: P15), Race: P12
Luck wasn’t on Pierre Gasly’s side in Canada. The Frenchman’s weekend got off poorly with a car failure in FP1, but worsened after being impeded by Carlos Sainz in Q1.
Instead of starting inside the top ten, Gasly qualified 17th, but would start 15th. In a gamble from Alpine, Gasly was the only driver to start the race on softs. That plan unravelled when the safety car was deployed just one lap after his first stop.
From there it was a tough task for him to recover in an uphill struggle of a weekend.
Zhou Guanyu – 5
Qualified: P20, Race: P16
Having outperformed Valtteri Bottas in recent rounds, Guanyu Zhou went from points in Spain to his worst weekend of the season in Canada.
Starting from last, Zhou only climbed places due to retirements and incidents. Hopefully only a slight blip in form as Alfa Romeo continue to try and get their season started.
Valtteri Bottas – 6.5
Qualified: P15 (Started: P14), Race: P10
Bottas displayed strong pace in practice sessions which meant a Q2 elimination was a disappointment.
Bottas also stayed out under safety car to gain track position, and broke into the top 10 as a result. The Finn did a good job of mitigating the losses although did fall backwards.
He was pipped to 10th over the line by Lance Stroll, losing out by just three hundredths of a second. The Alfa Romeo driver was handed a lifeline when he regained 10th place following a time penalty for Lando Norris.
Yuki Tsunoda – 6
Qualified: P16 (Started: P19), Race: P14
Yuki Tsunoda has dragged the AlphaTauri AT04 out of its comfort zone so far this season. but unfortunately for him, the Canadian Grand Prix wasn’t one of those occasions.
Tsunoda had his worst qualifying of the season worsened by a three-place grid penalty for impeding.
A first-lap pitstop was a bold strategy call that was once again scuppered by the early safety car. While P14 was a reasonable recovery, the Tsunoda we have seen in 2023 will be disappointed.
Nyck de Vries – 3.5
Qualified: P18 (Started: P17), Race: P18
Eight race weekends down and again Nyck de Vries’ performances continue to leave a lot to be desired.
The rookie seemed to struggle with the changing conditions throughout the weekend, and combined with traffic he once more failed to make Q2.
His race was going reasonably well until an unnecessary tangle with Kevin Magnussen first at Turn 1, and again at Turn 3, resulted in an embarrassing visit to the escape road for both drivers.
Although points never looked to be on the cards, de Vries required a clean weekend and to keep out of trouble. Instead, the outcome is a nothing weekend and even more scrutiny in the coming rounds.
Lando Norris – 6
Qualified: P7, Race: P13
It was a strong weekend for Norris who once again revelled the tricky conditions. After qualifying 7th, it always looked difficult for the McLaren to move forwards on Sunday.
Norris lost out to Piastri in turn 2, but regained the position later in the race. While deserving of a points finish, those chances were over when the Briton was handed a five-second time penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour. He was deemed to have driven unnecessarily slowly at the hairpin under safety car to build a gap for a smooth double stack.
Norris crossed the line ninth on the road, but dropped to 13th once his penalty was applied. A tough battle in the midfield, and a tough day after missing out on points.
Oscar Piastri – 6.5
Qualified: P9 (Started: P8), Race: P
Oscar Piastri has established himself as the leading rookie in 2023, and the Canadian Grand Prix was another demonstration of why McLaren were so keen to bring him into the fold.
Piastri showed good pace relative to Norris, and proved to be strong in battle, climbing up to sixth early on.
He later fell down the order and finished outside the points. Even after notching up a first F1 crash in Q3, Canada can be marked as a strong performance for the rookie.
Nico Hulkenberg – 6
Qualified: P2 (Started: P5), Race: P15
Hulkenberg was the centre of attention after qualifying. He found himself in P2 moments before the red flag flew and weather worsened. However, the Hulk was penalised for a red flag infringement and would have to start in 5th.
Sunday was always set to be tough for Haas, and to pit just before the safety car was a cruel manner in which to fall back.
After sinking down the order, there was no way back for the Haas which continues to miss the mark on race day.
Kevin Magnussen – 5
Qualified: P14 (Started: P13), Race: P17
The pace of Hulkenberg showed that Magnussen could have made it into Q3 with the teammates also following the same run plan.
Magnussen did find himself in the fight for the lower points positions but would never really challenge. Those chances were written off after tangling with Nyck de Vries.
Another difficult weekend for Magnussen and Haas in 2023.
Alex Albon – 9.5
Qualified: P10 (Started: P9), Race: P7
Alex Albon excelled in Montreal, again dragging his Williams into Q3. The manner in which he did so was an equally impressive feat. He and his Williams team had judged the weather perfectly in Q2, making the right gamble to utilise the slicks early resulting in advancing to Q3 as fastest.
Albon’s race was a defensive masterclass. Utilising his upgraded Williams and an off-set strategy, Albon fended off Russell and Ocon after making his one and only stop on lap 12.
The Canadian Grand Prix saw Albon maximise the FW43 as Williams move to within a point of Haas in the constructor’s standings.
Logan Sargeant – 5
Qualified: P18, Race: DNF
Sargeant was left without the upgrade boost that Alex Albon recived and is not due to receive the package until the Austrian Grand Prix.
Sargeant was therefore on the backfoot before the weekend even got underway. After struggling with tyre temperature in qualifying, he started 18th and held his ground in the opening laps.
Unfortunately, an oil leak that affected the power unit ended his race on lap 7, taking away valuable time to develop his understanding of the car.