Canadian Grand Prix 2023 Predictions: Red Bull dominant but Hamilton can sneak a podium finish
16 June 2023
Formula One is in the midst of its ‘European season’, but as usual there’s a mid-June jaunt across the Atlantic to Montreal for the ever-popular Canadian Grand Prix.
Canada has a long and storied history in Formula One, having first joined the schedule in 1967. Its home since 1978 has been on Montreal’s man-made Ile Notre Dame, which straddles the enormous Saint Lawrence Seaway.
The temporary parkland circuit, which is named after late local hero Gilles Villeneuve, is known for its lengthy straights, punctuated by heavy braking zones and medium-speed chicanes. That places an emphasis on straight-line speed and braking prowess, though drivers also need to be kind on tyres for strong traction out of the slow corners, and confidence in machinery is required.
Drivers have to run up close against the walls to maximise lap time and brushes with the concrete, particularly at the final chicane dubbed the ‘Wall of Champions’, are commonplace.
Strolling towards the front?
Gilles Villeneuve remains the only Canadian to have won a F1 race at the circuit which now bears his name. He won on its debut back in 1978. His son, 1997 World Champion Jacques, finished on the podium in 1996, which remains the only other rostrum presence by a Canadian on home soil.
Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll has been on the grid since 2017 and has contested his home event on four occasions, scoring points in three of those races. He will enter the 2023 Canadian grand prix with the most competitive package he has had so far in his career, highlighted by teammate Fernando Alonso scoring five podiums this term.
Stroll, though, has yet to join his illustrious two-time champion teammate in taking home a trophy in 2023 – so what better place to do so than in Canada?
Can Mercedes maintain form?
If Stroll is to achieve a home podium, then he is likely to have to overcome not just Alonso but also the Mercedes drivers. The Silver Arrows employed its upgrade package to great effect in Barcelona and took a double podium finish. They are keen to validate those improvements at a different type of circuit in Canada.
This is a venue where Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed sizable success. The first of his 103 Formula One wins came here from his maiden pole in 2007, and he has won six times on this track since.
Red Bull remain favourites
Red Bull made it seven-out-of-seven in Spain as Max Verstappen was untroubled en route to another dominant win - his fifth of the year and third on the bounce. He now has a 53-point advantage over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, and looks firmly on course for a third successive world title. Verstappen triumphed in Canada last year and there is no evidence to suggest another drive could trouble the runaway champions this time around.
Focus will be on whether Perez can step up and offer Verstappen a challenge after a terrible couple of races. The Mexican failed to make the top 10 in qualifying in Monaco and Spain owing to errors.
Canadian Grand Prix 2023 Predictions
16 June 2023