After a two-week gap, racing returns as Formula One heads to Montréal for the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix.
With both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships beginning to take shape, the race in North America has plenty of narratives at play for multiple drivers and teams.
Here are a few of my predictions for the race weekend.
Also read: Formula One 2023: Team Principals
Time running out for Pérez
After threatening to challenge Max Verstappen for the title and make it an interesting intra-team battle, Sergio Pérez’s Championship hopes have taken a massive blow after two disappointing weekends in Monaco and Spain. The Mexican went pointless in Monaco and finished P4 in Barcelona, on a weekend when he could easily have contested for the win or at least the podium given how uncompetitive Ferrari and Aston Martin were.
Pérez is currently 53 points behind Verstappen, the latter having begun to gain that unstoppable form. He has always been a force to be reckoned with on street circuits, but with only a handful of street races left in the season, “Checo” needs to be able to match or better Verstappen’s record on the conventional tracks.
The next few races are in Canada, Austria and the UK. If Pérez wants to get back in the Championship race, he desperately needs to have a strong weekend in Canada.
Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Sergio Pérez
Win prediction: Red Bull
Mercedes vs Aston Martin
When the season got underway, Aston Martin were the second strongest team on the grid, having scored five podiums in the opening six races. With Ferrari struggling with their reliability and strategic errors and Mercedes having failed to get on top of their car, it seemed like Aston Martin would run away with the second place.
The script, though, has taken an entirely new turn, with Mercedes bringing in potent upgrades in Spain. The Silver Arrows were the second best team in Barcelona by a distance, and it is clear now that both Mercedes and Aston Martin will be fighting it out for the podium place.
Expect Aston Martin and Mercedes to be in the fight for the podium places in Canada, with a tight battle between the two veterans Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton being a very likely and tasty prospect.
While the likes of Aston Martin, Alpine and Haas have been making strides to move ahead in the grid, Formula One’s most iconic team Ferrari have taken steps backwards this year.
After briefly threatening to challenge for the World Championship last year, this year Ferrari have fallen way off with the introduction of the new regulations. Even though they have one of the stronger cars of the grid, capable of regularly fighting for podiums at least, Ferrari lie fourth in the Constructors’ Standings, way behind Aston Martin and Mercedes, who have taken over the reigns for the second-best-team battle behind Red Bull.
Ferrari’s current plight stems not only from their poor reliability issues, making one of the stronger engines on the grid unable to fight for podiums and wins, but also from their strategic and driver errors. Despite having two of the most exciting drivers on the grid, they lie in limbo, cut away from the top-three teams while being comfortably ahead of the rest of the midfield.
After a host of poor weekends, which concluded in Spain with both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finishing outside the top four, Ferrari need to pull their socks up. If they are to compete for wins and take the fight to the likes of Aston Martin and Mercedes, they not only need both their drivers to have clean weekends but also need to have a spotless weekend from the pit crew.
Ferrari have all the tools necessary to bounce back. After a string of below-average performances from the iconic Italian team, expect them to bounce back strongly in Canada.
Dark Horses: Ferrari
Race details: When and where to watch (India)
- Circuit: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
- Venue: Montréal, Canada
- Practice Session 1 time: 23:00, June 16
- Practice Session 2 time: 02:30, June 17
- Practice Session 3 time: 22:00, June 17
- Qualifying Session time: 01:30, June 18
- Main race time: 23:30, June 18
- Where to watch: F1 TV Pro
(All times IST)