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Did McLaren and Mercedes blow it? Our Canadian GP verdict

4 min read

Max Verstappen and Red Bull came away with victory in the Canadian Grand Prix - but should Mercedes and McLaren have stopped them?

With mistakes from both Mercedes drivers and a McLaren strategy error that Lando Norris slated, we asked our team whether Mercedes and McLaren blew an opportunity to beat Verstappen:

Mercedes must wish it could combine its drivers

Scott Mitchell-Malm

In a race like this, of course someone else could have won. If any of the top five have even slightly different weekends, the outcome could change!

Whether Mercedes should have won... not without somehow combining its two drivers into one. If Mercedes could mash George Russell’s current qualifying form with Lewis Hamilton’s Sunday prowess, that driver could probably have won this race.

I feel like Hamilton could have won that race from Russell’s position. Russell seemed to overdo his first stint on intermediates, and made a costly mistake later on as well. Hamilton’s race wasn’t perfect, he had at least one error that cost him a few seconds and was very critical of his own performance, but his main issue was starting seventh after underperforming in qualifying. He looked after his tyres better than Russell and was rapid at key moments.

If he’d been able to do that from the first row or two, it’s a different story.

I don’t think there’s anything else McLaren could have done. Norris seemed to be braking for the final chicane when the safety car was deployed so was surely too late to dive into the pits. A bit of bad luck to offset the slice of fortune he had in Miami - win some, lose some.

Russell mistakes and Norris misfortune cost it

Ben Anderson

If the race had been dry all the way through, I think Russell would have won it from pole. On slicks, the Mercedes seemed to carry its unexpectedly strong qualifying pace into the race.

But as it played out, in mixed conditions, Russell just made too many mistakes - seemingly chewing his intermediate tyres in the first stint, then going off the road in front of the McLarens on slicks. He was too often in recovery mode in the second half of the race, which cost him at least second place, certainly. 

In the absence of a clean drive from Russell, Norris probably should have won it - but his excellent first stint on the inters was undone by that ill-timed (yet karmic) safety car intervention that meant he rejoined behind Verstappen and Russell again as the frontrunners ditched their first sets of intermediates.

Norris had the pace to win but was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time when that first safety car was deployed. The only blunder there is that Norris was driving too well!

Verstappen was probably never the absolute best driver at any stage of this race, but his was probably the cleanest drive overall and that made him the best on average across its full duration among those three main contenders. He showed the lesser-spotted gritty side of his driving in this race - able to grind out a great result even when the Red Bull wasn't dominant at any stage of the weekend.

IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO JUST CATCH RED BULL

Matt Beer

It wouldn't have taken much for any of the Mercedes or McLaren drivers to have won the Canadian GP. The fact Verstappen still beat all of them is probably just a sign of what the rest of 2024's going to look like.

We've now had too many races in a row of Verstappen either losing or very nearly losing. It's clear that Red Bull's massive performance advantage really has gone.

But he's up against a gaggle of rivals tripping over each other to beat him, and alternating in supremacy between them (see Ferrari's plunge from Monaco glory to Canada humiliation), and he's generally still executing races more cleanly than they do.

It's turning 2024 into a great season rather than a walkover, but it's also a sign that Verstappen doesn't need a car advantage to win - or to easily wrap up another title.

Norris didn't do anything wrong

Josh Suttill

In his own words, Norris drove a "pretty, perfect" race and it's hard to disagree. The ease with which he cleared Verstappen and Russell was superb and a testament to some really strong tyre management. 

As was his lack of mistakes on a day when they cost Russell dearly. It felt like Verstappen and Norris were on a different level to the rest when it came down to those fine margins.

Norris was set to win the race before the timing of the first safety car (and his position on track) meant his rivals could pit while he had to wait. 

That cost him track position and meant an ambitious overcut attempt on Verstappen was his last chance to win.

Norris actually felt that's where McLaren could have done better but it was such a marginal call considering he was at the final chicane that it would be harsh to lay the blame at McLaren's door.

Ultimately the defeat was mostly out of the team's hands and thus should be less frustrating than it was for Mercedes and Russell, who have a far bigger case for letting the victory slip through their fingers. 

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