Formula One visits the high-speed streets of Montreal, Canada, later today for round nine of the 2022 season as the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve hosts a race weekend for the first time in three years.
The whole of Canada is readying itself for an action-packed grand prix, with excitement and action anticipated before five red lights brace the 20 drivers on the grid.
Championship leader Max Verstappen will head into the second leg of the double-header with a smile on his face. The Dutchman won last time out in Baku, Azerbaijan, and now holds a 21-point advantage over his team-mate Sergio Pérez.
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Red Bull’s last win in Canada came in 2014 – having only two wins in the country – while Verstappen is looking to add a third first-place finish this afternoon.
The characteristics of the street circuit look to suit Red Bull, with their top speed advantage, over the rest of the field.
Verstappen has enjoyed an 80-point swing in his favour over Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in the past five rounds. And with his current momentum and relentlessness, it’s hard to look past Verstappen today, given Red Bull’s race pace.
After a disastrous weekend in Azerbaijan for Ferrari, they will be keen to put everything behind them later today, although questions have to be asked about the reliability of their engine – Baku saw only two out of the six Ferrari-powered cars see the chequered flag.
Monégasque Leclerc has taken pole position in all of the past four race weekends, but finished just the two races in Miami and Monaco as he witnessed Verstappen drive into the distance with this year’s championship lead.
The aim for Ferrari has to be for both cars to finish this weekend before they can think about winning, although a determined Leclerc will be eager to make up for the past few rounds.
With an engine issue in Baku, Leclerc is certainly going to have to take a number of new engines later in the year. A poor qualifying could see the 24-year-old opt to take a new engine and therefore start at the back of the grid, although it is unlikely.
Leclerc noted his current run of form:
Mercedes benefitted from Ferrari woes in Baku as they secured third and fourth – with George Russell on the podium – although the team still found itself well off the pace with Lewis Hamilton fighting the likes of AlphaTauri and Alpine for the majority of the race.
It was porpoising yet again that caught the headlines as Hamilton endured chronic back pain throughout the whole of the race, with images emerging of the 37-year-old struggling to get out of the car after the race.
Hamilton himself confirmed on social media earlier in the week that he would participate in the Canadian Grand Prix after his fitness was questioned, given the amount his W13 car was bouncing throughout the race.
There is no doubt that Mercedes remains the third-fastest car, but the team struggles to extract the full potential of its package. It could be another bumpy ride for Hamilton yet again this weekend in Canada as he returns to the circuit where he claimed his maiden Formula One victory in 2007.
The Canadian Grand Prix will take place over 70 laps of the 4.361km Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal at 8pm. The fast, low downforce circuit is a fan favourite, with heavy braking zones and long straights that promote overtaking.
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With three DRS zones located around the track, drivers will find it easy to follow each other for the entire race. They will be wary of the turn 13 and 14 chicane though, where on the outside is the Wall of Champions, which has seen several historic names exit the race.
With two Canadian drivers on the field – Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi – the crowd will be eager to see their home-grown drivers perform today.