Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

Ill-timed failure puts Verstappen on back foot as more rain threatens qualifying

2024 Canadian GP Friday practice analysis

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Ever since Lando Norris’ breakthrough win in Miami three rounds ago, the question of just how much of a challenge Red Bull’s rivals could offer to them over the rest of the season has been the one everyone wishes to know the answer to.

Red Bull may have never been in contention for the victory in the last race, but that was explained by Monaco being a circuit that played to the RB20’s weaknesses.

But one weekend around an anomalous street circuit does not and should not be taken as an indicator for the rest of the championship. Although the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is far from conventional in many ways, it should be a track that provides a much clearer picture for what the true order really is at the front of the field.

That is, it would, if it was not for the rain teams encountered throughout the first day of running which is expected to keep giving them headaches over Saturday and Sunday.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Ferrari look in good shape in Montreal
After two practice sessions that were heavily affected by rain, there is little in the way of useful data to decipher just how good Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren are relative to each other. But there is one outstanding stat from the opening day of running in Montreal: 14 – the number of laps Verstappen completed across the two sessions.

The championship leader was naturally eager to recover from a disappointing Monaco weekend and make a strong start in Montreal. However, an electrical problem forced him out of the second session. To make matters worse, it came in a crucial phase of the second hour when his rivals were seizing the opportunity to complete meaningful runs on slicks between showers.

“Unfortunately, in FP2, not many laps for me,” Verstappen told the official F1 channel after the session. “There was a suspected electrical issue, so they told me to box, and they’re investigating now.”

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After recording the fewest laps of anyone bar the luckless Jack Doohan, Verstappen described his Friday as “not ideal.”

Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Quickest then slowest, Norris rued lack of dry running
“I would have liked to drive more laps,” he said. “It’s definitely not how I would have liked to get on in FP2. But I think it’s more important to just figure out what actually happened and what kind of implications that will have for this weekend or the rest of the year.”

Having won in Miami and finished a close second in Imola, Lando Norris had every reason to expect to be one of the favourites for victory at the next ‘conventional’ circuit. But after a complicated Friday, Norris admitted McLaren were unsure about where they stood.

“We didn’t learn enough in the dry, to be honest,” he said. “We did the least laps, I think, out of everyone [in the dry]. But in the wet, a good amount. I think we’re in a reasonable place.”

Norris suggested that Ferrari seemed “a little bit ahead” based on the limited data available so far. Charles Leclerc, who controlled the Monaco weekend to secure his first win in almost two years, was feeling a rare sense of satisfaction once again following his first day in the damp conditions.

“All-in-all, I’m happy because we were very competitive in all conditions,” Leclerc told the official F1 channel.

“That is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to improve on the car. We still have to do some changes for tomorrow, which hopefully will bring us in a better position again.”

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Mercedes did not run their latest front wing on Friday
But another team which will be adding new parts onto their cars on Saturday and could be worth keeping an eye on for qualifying is Mercedes. Despite being seventh on the time sheets at the end of the day, Lewis Hamilton was feeling fairly optimistic about how his car performed in the mixed conditions and how he might go once his team fit their latest front wing on his car for qualifying, which neither driver appeared to use on Friday.

“It was a really good session,” said the seven-times champion. “The car was feeling strong. I thoroughly enjoyed the session.

“I feel like I’m in fighting spirits. I feel like the car is reacting to my inputs and I feel really confident out there. Saturday is often a different day for us, but I think in either conditions, I felt really strong today. So I do feel like we’re closer to the front this weekend.”

If Hamilton’s feeling proves true, then Saturday could see Verstappen facing intense competition at the front of the field for pole position. A competition that will be made even more difficult by the very high chance that qualifying will be wet.

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Haas weather forecast, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Teams expect to continue dodging showers
Montreal forecasts suggest that the third and final practice session could start on a damp track but run without rain interference across the hour – making it an especially critical session. However, once 4pm rolls around for the start of qualifying, the grid-setting session is expected to be hit with an 80% chance of rain – with thunderstorms possible.

Just how severe the impact of the weather will be on qualifying and the grid order for Sunday remains to be seen, but it looks increasingly like drivers are going to be under heavy pressure on Saturday, where one mistake for any of the eight drivers in the top four teams could be punished. And as was the case last season, teams will have to be especially alert not to impede any rivals around the fast, flowing circuit – particularly into the final chicane where several near-misses already occured.

“It’s going to be an interesting weekend for you guys, from the outside,” said the fastest driver on Friday, Fernando Alonso. “It’s going to be a gamble, always, on which tyre to put on each moment. Let’s see if we get it right.”

Combined practice times

P. # Driver Team FP1 time FP2 time Gap Laps
1 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’33.411 1’15.810 29
2 63 George Russell Mercedes 1’28.541 1’16.273 0.463 33
3 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’40.530 1’16.464 0.654 31
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’25.306 1’16.556 0.746 35
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RB-Honda RBPT 1’28.582 1’16.731 0.921 32
6 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’29.052 1’16.773 0.963 23
7 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’25.970 1’16.908 1.098 38
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda RB-Honda RBPT 1’28.723 1’16.951 1.141 31
9 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes No time 1’16.977 1.167 26
10 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda RBPT 1’28.058 1’17.041 1.231 29
11 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’17.417 1.607 31
12 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1’36.586 1’17.496 1.686 27
13 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’24.763 1’17.722 1.912 38
14 77 Valtteri Bottas Sauber-Ferrari 1’27.670 1’17.817 2.007 32
15 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1’32.826 1’17.903 2.093 25
16 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1’26.754 1’19.008 3.198 27
17 24 Zhou Guanyu Sauber-Ferrari No time 1’19.087 3.277 21
18 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT 1’26.502 1’19.311 3.501 14
19 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1’27.584 1’20.789 4.979 34
20 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.435 1’20.843 5.033 29

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Teams’ progress vs 2023

2024 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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5 comments on “Ill-timed failure puts Verstappen on back foot as more rain threatens qualifying”

  1. It does seem like the pressure is somewhat on Red Bull and things start breaking down a bit. But I still expect Max to somehow show up right at the front come Q3 (and the race)

    1. It will be interesting to see how this evolves. If again there is some underperformance from RedBull we might have enough races in which this has happened to call it a trend and therefore conclude the other teams (McLaren and Ferrari mostly) have caught up. So then the dominance a lot of fans feared, would turn out to be a 2 year streak. Would be an improvement vs the previous streak imho.

    2. An Sionnach
      8th June 2024, 15:08

      Let’s see what happens. While I think Max can work wonders, there’s only so much even he can do.

  2. I luv chicken
    8th June 2024, 14:24

    The first third of the track, in Montreal, requires optimum downforce balance, to get through all the twists and curbs, while the high speed sections from turn 9 to the finish line are strictly power and low downforce. A car, which may not be the fastest can easily get an overall fastest lap, if it’s balanced for both sections. A master of getting that sort of performance was Rubens Barrichello, who’s laps were not spectacular, until the lap finished, and was quicker than the majority. The mitigating factor, of course, will be if it rains.

  3. There was not much to miss, it was mostly a wet session.

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