Formula One is back in Canada for a second consecutive year as the Canadian Grand Prix gets underway this week in Montreal.
To get you up to speed, here are five things to know ahead of this year’s event:
Max Verstappen is the latest example of what happens when you combine a great driver with the best car on the grid.
Verstappen is the two-time reigning Formula One world champion and leads this season with 170 points, 53 ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez who is in second, making him the heavy favourite entering this weekend.
The 25-year-old Dutchman has reached the podium in all seven races so far this year and won five, including the last three.
Perez, meanwhile, is under pressure to improve his performance in Montreal. Despite racing in the same car as Verstappen, he finished fourth and 16th in the last two Grand Prix’s.
Lance Stroll is the only Canadian on the grid this year after Nicholas Latifi’s departure from Williams. But although the number of Canadian drivers was split in half, the odds of a Canadian reaching the podium might have doubled.
Stroll and Latifi finished 15th and 20th, respectively, in the driver’s standings last season. This year, Stroll is in eighth and driving an Aston Martin car that’s proven it can reach the podium — just not with the Canadian behind the wheel, yet.
Born in Montreal, Stroll arrives at his home Grand Prix still seeking his first podium. Teammate and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, however, is third in the driver’s standings and has finished in the top three five times, putting pressure on Stroll.
The 24-year-old will look to build on his sixth-place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he beat Alonso for the first time this season.
MERCEDES ON THE RISE?
Mercedes has a long way to go before returning to the car that won eight straight constructors’ championships from 2014-2021, but the team might have figured some things out in Spain.
Bolstered by new upgrades to the car, both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reached the podium to propel Mercedes into second place for the first time this season.
Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, went winless in a season for the first time last year and has yet to earn a win this year.
He’ll be looking to reverse that trend in Montreal, where he won his first-ever Formula One race in 2007 and is tied with Michael Schumacher for the most Canadian GP wins with seven.
FERRARI IN TROUBLE?
After finishing second in the constructors’ standings last season, Ferrari is in fourth this year.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. finished 11th and fifth, respectively, in Spain and will need to do better to contend for second place.
Sainz gave Verstappen a run for his money in Montreal last year but finished second.
ABOUT THE CANADIAN GP
It’s the 52nd Canadian Grand Prix and the 42nd edition in Montreal, famous for some classic races at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the “Wall of Champions” on Turn 14, which even the very best drivers have hit.
The cost of attending the event isn’t cheap. According to a study by SlotsOnlineCanada.com, the Canadian GP is the most expensive Grand Prix in Formula One, costing the average fan $3,146 for the full weekend.
The Montreal event is one of the races where rain can be a factor, adding a wrinkle for both the fans and the drivers. The forecast calls for a chance of showers throughout the weekend.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2023.
Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press