Race start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022

Red Bull’s 100th win? Can Stroll end podium drought? Canadian GP talking points

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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While Red Bull’s rivals hope the Canadian Grand Prix will finally be the race where they bring them within range, the championship leaders are eyeing their 100th grand prix victory.

Here are the talking points for this weekend’s race.

Gap closing or midfield shuffling?

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2023
Ferrari’s Baku pace bodes well for them in Canada
Have the upgrades Mercedes and Ferrari brought over the past races represented genuine steps forward for the teams? Or, as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed after the Spanish Grand Prix, is the competitive order simply shuffling around as teams move from track to track, with the one constant being his team romping to a 20-second-plus victory every weekend?

This weekend’s race may provide further signs one way or another. Not least because, on paper, this is a track where we might ordinarily expect to see Ferrari ahead of Mercedes. The SF-75s enjoyed the combination of long straights, slow corners and the softest tyres Pirelli supplies in Baku, so Montreal should be a good venue for them.

In contrast, the Circuit de Catalunya has always suited Mercedes well, and team principal Toto Wolff admitted the Canadian circuit is unlikely to suit them so well. But perhaps the development directions the teams have taken will provide a surprise.

Aston Martin can’t be discounted either. The team will have new parts for its AMR23 this weekend, and team principal Mike Krack was giving nothing away about the scale of the changes when asked in Spain, saying only that they would bring “a step” for the car.

First Canadian on podium at home for 27 years?

If Aston Martin are back to their best this weekend after their sub-par showing in Spain, we could see the first Canadian driver on the podium at their home race for 27 years. The last driver to do so was Jacques Villeneuve when he made his home grand prix debut at the track in 1996.

Although he won other races and took the title the following year, Villeneuve never improved on the second place he scored in his first race at home. The 1997 race turned out to be his last and best chance to win it, but he spun out of second place on lap two, hitting the barrier now known as the Wall of Champions.

(L to R): Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Alonso leads Stroll 5-0 on podiums so far
Stroll may well take some satisfaction if he ends his compatriot’s claim of being the last Canadian driver to reach the podium at home, as Villeneuve made a series of critical remarks about him after his 2017 debut.

So far this year Stroll hasn’t matched the success team mate Fernando Alonso has had in the AMR23. He hasn’t reached the rostrum yet, while Alonso has been there five times, and Stroll’s last top-three finish came in the penultimate race of 2020.

However Alonso demonstrated in Spain just how co-operative he is prepared to be when going up against the team’s other driver – a shrewd calculation given Stroll is the boss’s son. Would Alonso be as gracious with a podium finish on the line? Given how infrequently he’s been behind Stroll to begin with this year, that’s a question which is likely to remain hypothetical.

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Perez seeks redemption

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022
Perez crashed in qualifying last year
The Canadian Grand Prix was a tough race for Sergio Perez last year. He failed to claim a starting place inside the top 10 after hitting the barriers in qualifying, then retired early in the race with a technical problem.

He badly needs to avoid a repeat this weekend. While Red Bull have dominated the season so far, Perez hasn’t seen Q3 the last two times out, failed to score in Monaco and was off the podium in Spain.

Beating Max Verstappen increasingly seems like a tall order. But at minimum Perez needs a face-saving result this weekend where the points loss to his team mate isn’t in double-digits.

Will Red Bull hit 100?

It will be a surprise if Red Bull do not reach a century of wins this weekend, as they go to Canada having won 17 of the last 18 races.

If they do, it will be another milestone achievement for the team which is F1’s benchmark outfit at the moment. They have been consistently formidable competitors since they started winning races – and remarkably, the first of their 99 to date came just 14 years ago.

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New team decision looming

Andretti is seeking a chance to join the F1 grid
The FIA set a deadline of the end of June to confirm whether any of the prospective new teams which have applied to join F1 will be admitted. The decision will be taken by the governing body and F1, and with each party having the power to reject any application, a significant question mark hangs over whether any have overcome the huge opposition from F1 and the existing 10 teams to expansion of the grid.

The Canadian Grand Prix is the last race before the deadline. Montreal is also only a few hours’ flight from Wisconsin where Michael Andretti’s team is contesting the latest IndyCar round. Of all the prospective applicants, Andretti has sought the most attention – will he, or any of his fellow applications, show up for a spot of last-minute lobbying to join the grid?

Wildfire threat recedes

Canada is having to cope with its most active wildfire season on record which affected the air quality in Montreal last week. However a recent drop in temperatures and the arrival of much-needed rain has helped firefighters bring the blazes under control.

F1 has been monitoring developments and last week said it expected the event would not be affected. As things stand it seems their confidence was well-placed and hopefully the situation continues to improve for all concerned.

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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4 comments on “Red Bull’s 100th win? Can Stroll end podium drought? Canadian GP talking points”

  1. I do hope F1 does the right thing and lets Andretti and one or two of the other applicants in. There’s going to be six works engines on the grid, there’s plenty of room for more teams using customer engines. With the cost cap it’s good to have more work opportunity for engineers up and down the grid, as well as having a few more driver seats so talent coming up actually has a place to go and F2 champions don’t have to settle for Formula E or taking a year or longer in test seats.

    If a team like Haas can be on the grid on a shoestring budget with zero ambition to ever become a race winner, I don’t really see any argument against any of these other applicants deserving a spot anyways.

  2. Gap closing or midfield shuffling? – Can go either way.
    First Canadian on podium at home for 27 years? – Unlikely, but not impossible.
    Perez seeks redemption – Yes, & not only reaching Q3 for a change, but finishing 2nd at minimum.
    Will Red Bull hit 100? – Yes, unless something happens to them.
    New team decision looming – Hopefully, no opposition.
    Wildfire threat recedes – Indeed, not that I thought the event was under threat at any point.

    1. Yes, I would say on any given race this year there’s a 90% chance of red bull winning, while the chance of stroll making it to the podium is probably 20 or even 10%, it requires him to have a proper race, something to happen to both red bulls, alonso and possibly someone of ferrari\merc.

  3. I wonder who will het the most cheers when on the podium. Stroll or Alonso.
    Is he even populair in Canada?
    Or is he more like the de Vries for the Dutch?

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