F1 podium, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023

Verstappen dominates Canadian GP ahead of Alonso and Hamilton

2023 Canadian Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen took a comfortable lights-to-flag victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull driver led every lap of the race to win by just under ten seconds after controlling the race. Alonso took second after winning an early battle with Hamilton, who completed the podium in third.

As the field left the grid for the formation lap, all of the top 11 starting cars had medium tyres on their car. When the lights went out, Verstappen held onto his lead on the run to turn one, but Hamilton leapt ahead of Alonso to take second place. George Russell maintained his fourth place, while Esteban Ocon took fifth place from Nico Hulkenberg.

When DRS was activated on lap three, none of the top six drivers was with a second of a rival ahead to make use of the overtaking aid. Alonso pushed to put Hamilton under pressure and lightly brushed the wall on the exit of turn four on the fourth lap, but avoided any damage to his Aston Martin.

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, and Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Canadian Grand Prix in pictures
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed briefly on lap eight when Logan Sargeant pulled off the circuit at turn six with an unspecified car problem, but the race resumed before the lap was complete. Alonso began to put Hamilton under pressure for second place, but could not get close enough to attempt a pass.

On lap 12, an error by Russell at the exit of turn nine saw the Mercedes driver hit the barrier, causing a right-rear puncture and front wing damage. The Safety Car was deployed due to debris on the circuit, with Verstappen, Hamilton and Alonso all immediately pitting for hard tyres. While all three retained their positions, there was a close call between Hamilton and Alonso when the pair were released from their pit box, however the stewards deemed it was not an unsafe release.

The two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr stayed out, moving to fourth and fifth, with Sergio Perez also gaining sixth place by not pitting. After having his damaged assessed, Russell rejoined the race, albeit now 19th and last.

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Verstappen led the field to the restart at the start of lap 17, quickly pulling over a second to Hamilton as Alonso pursued the Mercedes in third. Verstappen immediately set a new fastest lap and pulled over 1.5 seconds to Hamilton by the end of his second tour since the restart.

Alonso renewed pressure on Hamilton and eventually tucked up into the Mercedes’ slipstream on the back straight on lap 22, pulling to the inside and out-braking Hamilton into the final chicane to move up to second place. Hamilton tried to counter-attack along the pit straight but could not fight back, Alonso now secure in second.

Verstappen gradually pulled out a gap to Alonso behind, stretching his lead to five seconds by half-distance in the race. Sainz was the first of the Ferraris to pit at the end of lap 38, rejoining still in fifth place. Team mate Leclerc stopped on the following lap, rejoining still ahead of Sainz in fourth, both Ferraris now on hard tyres.

Hamilton pitted to change to the medium compound on lap 40, with Aston Martin immediately covering the Mercedes on the next lap, but opting for hards instead. Verstappen was the last of the leading trio to make a second stop at the end of lap 42, taking mediums. He rejoined with his lead intact, just over four seconds ahead of Alonso.

With 16 laps remaining, Russell was called into the garage to become the race’s second retirement as he had developed a right-front brake problem that Mercedes were unable to manage. With one Mercedes out, the other began to close the gap to Alonso ahead, however the Aston Martin driver picked up the pace once Hamilton came close to threatening his DRS range and pulled the gap back to over three seconds.

Out front, Verstappen was able to control his pace and edge away from Alonso behind. He completed the remaining laps to take the chequered flag and secure his sixth win of the season and fourth consecutive victory to extend his healthy championship lead even further. Alonso finished 9.5 seconds behind in second place, with Hamilton completing the podium a further four seconds behind.

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The two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz finished fourth and fifth, with Perez taking sixth place in the second Red Bull. Alexander Albon secured his best ever result for Williams in seventh, ahead of Esteban Ocon in eighth.

Lando Norris crossed the line in ninth but fell out of the points after receiving a five second penalty for unsporting behaviour earlier in the race. That promoted Lance Stroll to ninth place and Valtteri Bottas into the final point in tenth after Stroll won a race to the finish line.

2023 Canadian Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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62 comments on “Verstappen dominates Canadian GP ahead of Alonso and Hamilton”

  1. DRS train proved surprisingly powerful this year, which hampered Perez’s progress.
    I thought Albon might get a puncture if he doesn’t pit again, but overall, Williams’ generally good straight-line speed helped him to keep faster cars behind, while Bottas showed his lack of racecraft again.
    De-Vries-Magnussen incident reminded me of Ricciardo-Kvyat in Baku ’19.

    1. Perez proved himself unsurprisingly unpowerful this year, which hampered Perez’s progress.

      1. MGus.ai – Also a good way of looking at his situation.

    2. Regarding the DRS train I would like to change its use to X seconds per race, like push-to-pass in Indycar (engine power mode) but for opening the rear wing

    3. @jerejj I was talking to a former F1 engineer about the DRS trains a few races ago and it was his belief that DRS trains are likely going to become a bigger issue as the grid becomes closer because the performance variance between cars will result in more cars in a train and the more cars you have in a train the harder it becomes for anyone to break out of it.

      He is of the view that overtaking is likely going to get harder as the field closes up not just because of the DRS trains but because as car performance gets more even there will no longer be enough of a speed difference between cars to create opportunities.

      His belief was that on average a car needs to be at least 1 second faster for there to be a realistic possibility to overtake with DRS and that in the mid field right now pace between cars is less than that which is why they all get stuck in a train. And if the 2026 regulations aim to allow cars to run closer the required pace gap to help create an overtake will increase which will again maybe make things harder.

      1. And how much gap does there need to be to overtake without DRS then? I remember the commentators talking about this sometimes in recent years, but obviously always with DRS.

      2. @gt-racer Okay, good & interesting explanation, which ultimately is unfortunate for racing quality in the long term.

    4. Williams is notoriously hard to pass due to lack of drag/downforce.

      1. @dmw Indeed, which should show equally well on the next circuit as well as in Spa-Francorchamps & Monza, possibly also AHR, Interlagos, & even LV, so midfield teams should be prepared for more Albon trains.

  2. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    18th June 2023, 20:54

    If Ferrari hadn’t messed up quali they could have gotten something here. They hung onto the top three pretty well after their safety car gamble.

  3. A rare example of a strategic non-catastrophe from Ferrari.

    I’m unsure how Hamilton avoided a penalty for an unsafe release at the first pit stops. Since Abu Dhabi 2021 it seems as though the officials have been treating him with kid gloves.

    1. There was no unsafe release. Lando was even closer, but even that was still fine.

    2. Come on Lando’s was way worse and He got away with that.

    3. I’m unsure how Hamilton avoided a penalty for an unsafe release

      It was a textbook unsafe release. As how the penalty was avoided, oh, well, same old same old, no surprise at all.

      And Lando got the bystander benefit, they did not want to make it too obvious by penalising him alone.

      Since Abu Dhabi 2021 it seems as though the officials have been treating him with kid gloves.

      More like since Melbourne 2007, cranes included.

      1. It was a textbook unsafe release only in Alonso’s mind, because he did not have to brake to avoid collision. Albon has, so Norris was an unsafe release, Alonso could’ve continue without it.

        As always, drama queen didn’t disappoint, but stewarts didn’t catch his baits this time.

        1. @hje
          TBF to Alonso, he never said one thing on the radio after that first obligatory message that ALL drivers do to try to get each other a penalty. I listened to his radio the entire race and he never brought it up again.

          I’m an Alonso fan and it was clear he was just being crafty and didn’t really believe it was an unsafe release.

          Many fans, likely the ones who have come in since Neils Bumper Lane Wittich began as RD (Masi was nearly as nanny’ish), have become wayyyy too used to this new, kid proofed F1 in which no car can ever be recovered without a V or full SC (even gravel makes the grade now) and want penalties instead of hard edged competition. That or they just complain when they want a penalty to award drivers they like or punish a driver they dislike.

      2. I think once upon a time these were penalized more harshly (at least that is what I believe without checking for a specific example). However, in more recent times I feel it has been overlooked unless there has been contact, or the avoiding action has been extreme.

        I certainly recall occasions with wider pitlanes where cars have been released and ran alongside other cars without penalty.

        I also feel that Alonso allowed himself to get as close as he did, and certainly did not react as soon as he saw movement from the Merc garage.

    4. Having just watched it that wasn’t an unsafe release, there was almost a good car length of gap and there was no braking, just Alonso milking it with he’s sawing at the wheel like he was taking avoiding action.

  4. The stewards noted on both occasions that the driver behind had to brake (slightly), so I don’t get how that isn’t unsafe?

    1. Because F1’s rules application is about as rigid as jelly.

      By the wording of the sporting regs, braking or taking action to avoid contact (as both cars did) is the definition of an unsafe release, and therefore, deserves a penalty.
      But we know that the wording of F1’s rules means absolutely nothing. Application is based almost entirely on discretion and not upsetting the biggest teams.

  5. U can’t touch the Untouchable One

    1. Was a reply to NewDust

  6. Perez must be the most useless driver on the grid. With that Redbull he should have a podium today.

  7. Hm f1 has 1 driver too much for exciting battle for the win..

    Meanwhile race was fun, Alonso won a close fight for everyone else category..

    Show wise Verstappen should take a break.

  8. Alonso could sit the rest of the season out. Stroll isn’t catching his points tally.

    1. As the season goes on, I keep wondering if Aston Martin actually had a better car than we thought in 2021 and 2022, yet maybe Vettel was also sleepwalking his way through those seasons and if both he and Stroll were masking a better car. Not saying it was a top car in those years, but I do wonder if it was a lot better than we thought and both of them were underperforming massively.

      I mean let’s say they didn’t have an Alonso this year…would we know the 2023 car is one capable of getting regular podiums?

      1. Vettel took the same number of 2nd places as Alonso now has in a car that was far worse. He may not always have been at his best, but it’s much more common for drivers to be close when the car is the limiting factor.

        1. BW (@deliberator)
          19th June 2023, 5:55

          Worse? Undoubtedly. Far Worse? Hmm… Not so sure. Was it not just the Vettel/Stroll combo that made it seem worse? Certainly the 2022 AM was way off the 2021 AM, but one has to wonder what FA could have achieved in the 2021 AM.
          It would have been quite interesting as Alonso is so incredibly consistent, whereas Vettel had the tendency to have very high peaks and then disappear into the woodwork again when the car wasn’t too his liking.
          A good analogy could be made to the 2010 to 2012 Ferraris – Massa was a realistic benchmark of a solid enough, though not special, driver. Alonso meanwhile dragged two of those cars into the title fight. I think if Vettel had been in those Ferraris, he would have performed above Massa’s level, but title fights would have been pipe dreams.

          1. @deliberator but it wasn’t as if Ferrari didn’t also make it extremely clear that Alonso was being given more favourable treatment than Massa – remember events such as taking a deliberate grid penalty during the 2012 US Grand Prix to help move Alonso up the grid to a more favourable slot?

          2. That’s because it was round 19/20 and Alonso and Vettel were neck and neck for the WDC (he’ d have been ahead comfortably if Grosjean didn’t wipe
            him, HAM + half the front runners in Spa at turn 1 on a day Vettel was starting last) while Massa was like P9 in the WDC and it cost him all of like 3 places. Massa was always given the same car and before Massa fell way behind, they’d let Massa hold up Alonso the entire race.

            Also, he tripled Kimi’s points in 2014 and obviously wasn’t given preference.

      2. You make a good point, we wouldn’t know this aston wass between merc and ferrari in performance atm if a stroll copy was in the other car.

        1. We wouldn’t know if post-2018!Vettel was in there either.

      3. Ops, in this particular race actually better than merc, sorry.

  9. Biggest story of a slightly boring race was surely Ferrari making a great strategy call. When was the last time that happened?!

    1. BW (@deliberator)
      19th June 2023, 5:46

      Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    2. And then it unfortunately we found out they didn’t make the right call but a mistake which turned out to be the right call. I do not see this team ever perform again unless they attract a Lauda or Schumacher who simply won’t stand the incompetence anymore. The only one of the grid having such attitude is imho Max and he will not be interested.

    3. You mean the driver making a great strategy call. If they had pitted when the strategists wanted, it would have been a disaster. There’s a pretty simple rule of thumb, when you’re building a gap to the drivers behind you (especially if you’re on a one stop), you DON’T PIT.

      This doesn’t take a professional strategist to figure out. It seems like they just looked at their computer sims and ignored the real life times and positions, which is something it always seems like they’re doing. They should make the strategists watch old GPs and have them enter their calls if they were managing the race and see how it measures up to what the actual strategists did back then. They might learn a lot.

  10. It’s starting to feel like being Max’s team mate has finally broken Sergio. I think he would probably be fine if he didn’t think he was in a title fight but he was left behind by the Ferrari’s in the race even with a tyre advantage. Stroll also fits into this category.

    If I were Red Bull, I would get Alex back (next year) to partner Max. He’s in great form and setbacks don’t seem to weigh on him – he has the right temperament to partner Max. And he’s been bloody fast this year!

    Not the most interesting race but the field hasn’t felt this close for a long time! Max will tie up the championship early but we could have some great races later in the season as Red Bull transition to 2024.

    Lawrence is going to seriously have to consider replacing Lance as he’s almost definitely costing them 2nd in constructors.

    1. Proesterchen_nli
      19th June 2023, 0:16

      Alex looks good because he is currently partnered with an inept rookie.

      He would look his usual unexciting self if ever partnered with Max again.

      1. I LOVE Alex (who doesn’t really) the person, but speaking on the driver, I couldn’t agree more. Besides, there are plenty of better drivers who wouldn’t threaten Max they could get if they want to replace SP. I also think, before RBR, SP was a more impressive driver than Alex.

        Alex is a great fit for Williams right now. He’s very smart, doesn’t take crazy risks that costs the team lots of money and opportunities and he’s good enough to get a few points when the car is competitive. He’s also a genuinely compassionate guy who I feel is a great fit when a team is struggling and rebuilding. He won’t demoralize the team. But at the same time he’s not afraid to tell the team we need to do better.

  11. Did I see Toto in the garage pantomiming Russell correcting himself into the wall? That looked kind of cold. But that was some pretty sloppy driving to bin it like that under no pressure so early in the race. I couldn’t believe the car continued after that wallop.

    1. I believe that was an imitation of Alonso after the questionable release of Hamilton in the pits, I don’t think he would do that to one of his own drivers.

    2. I saw that and thought Toto was impersonating Alonso’s reaction in the pitlane to Hamilton pulling out in front of him…

      1. Same thought. I think Toto thought that ALO was being dramatic to try to get a penalty on HAM. I did think it was close to an unsafe release but NOR was worse.

      2. 100% he was mimicking Alonso as in “that was flop acting.” Surprised so many people were confused about this.

    3. Proesterchen_nli
      19th June 2023, 0:18

      Indeed, that was a proper Charles-like driving error on George’s part.

  12. The race was boring but I started to think if the top teams need to drop their 2nd drivers at the break. I thought Mercedes replacing BOT was the right thing to do but RUS is just embracing the suck out there. BOT was consistent and still is consistent. RUS is better than BOT when he is in the zone but when he is not, he is not close. No idea what is going on with PER. STR shows how bad he is compared to ALO. His dad might want to contend for a constructor’s title at some point and the kid isn’t up to it. I think TSU will be gone at end of the season and possibly by the break. RIC could jump in or possibly a rookie. I think the season is pretty much over already. Mercedes is nowhere close to Aston-Martin which is nowhere close to Red Bull.

    1. Mercedes was close to aston martin this race, and aston was closer to red bull than usual, when I rated the teams’ speed this race I’d have given a 10 to red bull, a 9 to aston, 8,5 to merc and 7,5 to ferrari based on the gaps.

      There’s been races where verstappen was 30 sec out front compared to the 9 sec today, and before alonso was told to lift and coast he had gone under 4 seconds.

      1. BW (@deliberator)
        19th June 2023, 5:46

        I think the biggest issue is that it is impossible to know what the “real” gap is. So yes, 9.5s today, but that could probably have easily been 20s or 30s if MV was pushing. Monaco probably also would have been around 9s or 10s assuming the rain chaos at the end never happened.
        Ultimately, MV is only going as fast as he needs to win with a suitable buffer to cover for pit stop undercuts, VSC, etc. Unless one of the other teams makes a big step forwards, I don’t think we will ever see the true pace of the RB (in MVs hands). I predict that we will see finishing gaps of around 10s to 20s all season in races which are “normal”.
        Perhaps they will taper off a little in the 2nd half of the season as RBR switch their focus (early) to 2024.

    2. The only person Yuki gets replaced for is Ayumu.

    3. Just a comment/question on Ric. What has he done the last few years, except smiling, that gives anybody the idea that he is better than Yuki? Maybe replace Nick, but even that: why?

      1. BW (@deliberator)
        19th June 2023, 5:40

        Nick is certainly giving cause for concern with his performances. But indeed, I can’t see Ric being anywhere near the front of the queue for replacements.

        1. He beat Ocon 17-2 in 2020. Smashed Hulk. Was the only driver to ever actually be neck and neck with Max. He won a race in 2021 with McLaren but was supremely average that year. Not terrible.

          And then 2022…a legit plain poor season have people acting like he is the worst driver ever now. Even 2022 was poorer thaj it looks considering Lando was already in his prime and was flattering the car while DR was probably extracting the same amount most average drivers would. Nyck or Yuki would have likely been as bad or worse.

          The high expectations he had coming are what make people exaggerate about how poor he was driving.

  13. Oh, not sure if anyone noticed, but stroll overtook bottas just before the finish line, just like bottas had done to him at baku a few years ago, when he was at merc, must’ve been 2017.

  14. BW (@deliberator)
    19th June 2023, 2:07

    Fairly typical weekend it seems.
    1. Verstappen dominates from the front.
    2. Alonso and Hamilton provide a pretty good duel for 2nd.
    3. Russel can’t quite mix it with the two above.
    4. Stroll is a country mile behind his teammate.
    5. Perez, yet again, demonstrates his “championship mettle”.
    6. Albon does a very solid (though unspectacular) job in his Williams.
    7. And, last but certainly not least, Ted Kravitz reaches new lows of ridiculous, cringeworthy, biased, and pathetically unprofessional commentary.

    1. Agree with most of this except the last two.
      Alex drove a great race. So many laps under constant pressure. George in the Merc not able to pass him, it was great to watch.

      What did Ted do/say this time? I gave up watching F1 on TV because (mostly) of the SKY team, watch F1TV instead. Excellent deal for just $70/year. Although I have to say that lately also the F1TV team tries to hard to introduce “tension” where there isn’t (it was obvious Alo was managing pace, no way Ham could get to him, let alone pass him; the constant reminder that Safety Car is very common in late stage in Montreal) and over excitement “best drive ever” too often. Eg, while Albon did a great job, and deserved driver of the day, it was for 7th. Remember when Max in his first RB race kept Kimi behind him lap after lap, for 1st?

      1. BW (@deliberator)
        19th June 2023, 5:38

        As for Albon, I agree that it was a very good race. But I wouldn’t put it in the same category as Verstappen’s first win, for example, which you alluded to. That really was a spectacular drive.
        And as far as SKYF1 is concerned, I fully understand why you have chosen to save your money. Should you feel like reminding yourself why you have made the smart decision to do so, you can start by listening to Ted offer his opinions on the penalty given to Norris for his Safety Car infringement. That in itself should suffice, although it wasn’t the only cringeworthy commentary from him. Fortunately, I have managed to repress most of the rest already.

    2. Kravitz has always had a really weird thing for Norris. I remember during 2021 and 2022 he was always making up reasons to make it looked as if Norris was doing much better than what his performance showed (even if he was way ahead of DR). He was always saying stuff like “and remember Lando is on an engine that is two races old!” paired with something like “and he reported non-optimal downshifts in P1 maybe they’re coming back”

  15. I added up Max’s wins over last season and this season so far… 21 victories out of 30 Grand Prix.
    Pretty awe inspiring.

    1. Yep well..

      You know – fia were going to make sure there was no run away dominance by any team and cars were pegged back for closer racing…

      How do you continue with what will be the most dominant season by any driver without their interference?

      Simply employ a mid to rear pack teamate at the end of his career, give him an amazing car and tell him he can win! Broken within a month.

      This is an absolute farce – on what planet is this closing the field, giving any fans other than orange ones some semblance of racing? The guy if quick but for goodness sake it takes a pretty weird mindset to think you’re so fantastic when your biggest battle is with boredom. Hmm the gold boots were a clue.

      Before I get the usual frothing – it’s not up to “other teams” to do better if the system is being largely gamed – if the Max fans think he is so unbeatable- let him try!

      No – sorry 35 plus years – for the first time I did not even bother watching- what used to be a great Grand Prix…

      Red bull are destroying the sport – and they are letting it happen.

      For goodness sake give at least a pretence at a competition- you know – after 2021 AND and huge overspend!

      1. Yet u have no complaints about mercedes?

        1. When did they employ team mates that were at least capable of q3?


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