In terms of passion, skill and fighting spirit, nobody can tell Fernando Alonso that he’s about to turn 41. Driving his Alpine race car in second place on a treacherous, wet qualifying track was like a small victory. Threatening leader Max Verstappen with the “maximum attack” was of course one of the Spaniard’s psychological tricks. But he had already figured out a fifth place, and that would have been possible despite the overslept start.
In the end, Alonso crossed the finish line in seventh place and the race stewards relegated him to ninth place for zigzagging. The fact that he wasn’t allowed to overtake his 15-year-old teammate Esteban Ocon for safety reasons affected the Spaniard almost more: “I was a hundred times faster than him over the weekend.” But he surprisingly kept to the order, he was even more angry about the Renault engine, which was only running at reduced power from lap 20: “From then on it was all about survival for me. I had to drive a kamikaze. “
Sixth on the grid, further ahead than ever before. In the rain chaos of the qualification, he drove as confidently as his father did back then. Finally emancipated, also within the Haas racing team. Even team boss Günther Steiner said “thank you”. Mick Schumacher had swum free in qualifying in Montreal and was actually hoping for his very first World Championship point in the race. After all, who wants to be a forever rookie? Even in the race, when he lost places on the first lap, the points were still within reach. The 23-year-old stayed in the top ten while team-mate Kevin Magnussen smashed into Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Schumacher was able to keep up quite well in the first half of the field for more than 19 laps, then he had to give up position after position and rolled out with a drive failure on his rental Ferrari. Bitter, very bitter. But Mick Schumacher, who got along right away on the declared driver’s route in Montreal, kept his frustration under control: “Unpleasant feeling” he said in German, “unhappy” in the interview in English. His car felt great and the performance wasn’t bad either: “That’s what we can take to Silverstone.”
There is now a whole collection of T-shirts that Sebastian Vettel uses to point out grievances in the world, mostly about human rights, peace and preferably environmental issues. This is registered in Formula 1, but it rarely reaches a larger public. That changed with his protest against tar sands mining as “Canada’s climate crime”, because Energy Minister Sonya Savage from the province of Alberta rose to the provocation: “I’ve seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, but this is the crowning glory,” she tweeted and pointed out that Vettel’s racing team is co-financed by Aramco, the largest oil production company in the world. The politician then scornfully recommended that the racing driver reduce their own carbon footprint: “Maybe with pedal cars.”
Vettel knows he’s vulnerable, but he usually stays stubborn. But on Sunday he changed his helmet, which also had his message to Canadians painted on it. Why didn’t he say in the Sky interview, his team in turn denied having forced the driver. This raises the question of whether others influenced him. The Saudis are also one of the main sponsors of Formula 1.
During the final 15 most exciting laps of the Canadian Grand Prix, radio communication between the front-runner and the Red Bull command post was disrupted. “Maybe they were really happy,” speculated the Dutchman, who was able to make his sixth victory from his second pole position this season. The defending champion has dominated two-thirds of all races so far and has been able to gain a decent lead over main opponent Charles Leclerc. He can’t and doesn’t want to rest, he’s shown himself how quickly conditions can change.
The slope on the Ile de Notre-Dame suited him. It has the character of a permanent racetrack, even reminiscent of his beloved go-kart courses. Verstappen found it a nice surprise that he had Fernando Alonso standing next to him at the start: “As a little boy I saw Fernando winning races and titles on TV, and now he’s standing next to me.” Well, not for long. Also a kind of expression of the accelerated generational change initiated by Verstappen in Formula 1. The champion also forbade other drivers to speak for him on the controversial issue of jumping racing cars: “They shouldn’t include me.”
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Zero commeun seconds were missing at the end and Ferrari’s number two could finally have clinched its first Grand Prix victory. Due to a safety car phase shortly before the end, the Spaniard leader Max Verstappen suddenly had his sights set on him again. Bravely he fought his way through the air turbulence to the Dutchman. But there was no getting around it, Verstappen in the unfamiliar role as a defender passed the stress test and also clinched his sixth win of the season against a new opponent in the red car.
Nonetheless, it was a happy ending for Scuderia Ferrari, which only experienced minor glitches at the pit stops after the big fiasco in Baku. After all, Charles Leclerc still finished fifth after his engine change from the last row of the grid. A grand prix of damage limitation, even if Leclerc is already 49 points behind Verstappen in the World Cup. “At least we were back to the music in terms of performance,” Sainz said. “We were faster throughout the race and I was able to fight at full throttle right up to the last lap.”
Mercedes affords the most expensive test driver in the world. In order to finally get rid of the Silver Arrows’ balance problem, Lewis Hamilton has to keep experimenting on Fridays because of his experience. In Montreal, these went so wrong that Hamilton already recommended better thinking about a new design for 2023: “A disaster.” After his fourth place in qualifying, that was no longer an issue, and the fact that he was third on the podium for the second time this year in the Canadian Grand Prix made for feelings of happiness that covered up any back pain. “I almost feel young again,” said Canada’s record winner.
For the second time, Mercedes drivers finished third and fourth, but this time in the reverse order from Baku. But George Russell continued his streak of being the only driver to finish in the top five in every race. Hamilton immediately became a positive thinker again: “The result gives us a lot of hope. For the first time I could see the top right to the end. At times we were as fast as Red Bull and Ferrari.” Hamilton only had one wish: “How about George taking over the experiments in the second half of the season…?”
The world automobile association Fia would have liked to have solved the problem of the bouncing racing cars and many drivers moaning in pain immediately and by means of technical instructions. But that’s about it bouncing, which could cause long-term damage to the back and brain, is too complex. There is no universal solution for all racing cars, not all are equally affected, Mercedes is hit the hardest. So in Montreal, only data was collected on how hard the cars were hopping and where the pain threshold might be. Then, together with the teams, it should be considered what will be changed.
A foretaste of how difficult consensus will be to find was a team principals meeting in Montreal. Once again, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull governor Christian Horner clashed. Wolff argues in terms of the health of all drivers who got things rolling with an official protest. Horner more or less accuses the opposition of wanting to regain an advantage midseason after missing the target so far. No one addresses the other by name in public, but Wolff burst out: “There are colleagues who try to manipulate what is said in order to keep the competitive advantage and play political games.” The Austrian finds that “pathetic” and “sneaky”.