Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s Canadian Grand Prix was fairly straightforward but a milestone for both – Verstappen equalling Ayrton Senna’s 41 Formula 1 wins and Red Bull becoming only the fifth team in F1 history to hit 100 wins.
But who else deserved to celebrate and who should be kicking themselves? Here’s our pick of the Montreal 2023 winners and losers.
Seventh place is a great reward for a really effective weekend from both Alex Albon and Williams.
The upgrades – only on Albon’s car for now – appeared to work well throughout practice and this was followed by a well-managed qualifying that was so promising it made his eventual 10th place a disappointment.
The race was effective too with Albon running a now trademark long final stint. The FW45’s supreme straightline speed helped but he also was managing his tyres well to come home in seventh place and increase Williams’s 2023 points tally from one to seven. – Josh Suttill
It doesn’t seem like much more could have been asked of Fernando Alonso than matching his best result of the season, especially considering he was required to lift and coast for much of the second half of the race and, Aston Martin revealed afterwards, was nursing a problem in his AMR23.
Without that unspecified issue Aston reckoned “Verstappen was doable” – ie a genuine shot at victory was on the cards.
That can’t have been far from Alonso’s mind either, given his declaration while in a lift-and-coast phase that he wanted to be done with it so he could go for the win.
Ultimately that was beyond his grasp, but a second-place finish done the hard way – having to repass Lewis Hamilton after he was jumped at the start – that in turn moved him closer to a second place in the championship that really should be out of reach marked another fine effort. – Jack Cozens
“Very lovely” wasn’t a feature of Verstappen’s post-race radio lexicon this weekend, but you can bet it summed up how he was feeling after his cruise to victory in the Canadian GP, his second in a row at the track and sixth of a 2023 F1 campaign that looks more and more dominant with each passing weekend.
Verstappen does genuinely seem nonplussed at times about his standing in F1 – his willingness to play down some of his better drives (a relative term) is evidence of this – but he showed this time that he does care as he celebrated the victory with race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, Verstappen eagerly pointing out that this was Red Bull’s 100th win in F1 with his first words over the radio after the chequered flag.
For a driver with a reputation for ruthless self-focus, that was a fitting acknowledgement of just how much Red Bull has invested in his own journey.
And routine though these victories are becoming, his margin of 9.5 seconds – having pulled out five seconds in the final stint – was an appropriate manner in which to seal a landmark triumph not just for the team but for himself as he matched the great Ayrton Senna’s tally of wins. – JC
Ferrari (considering qualifying)
Are we being too generous to consider Ferrari a ‘winner’ from this race when yet again it didn’t get a car on the podium? Yes, possibly. Especially as the hints from Friday were that this would be one of the team’s strongest circuits of recent months.
But given Ferrari was a clear Saturday loser this time – Sainz’s penalty for one of his litany of blocking offences plus the mishandling of Charles Leclerc’s Q2 meaning it started 10th and 11th – to come away with fourth and fifth places and its second-best single-race points haul of 2023 so far wasn’t bad.
Most encouragingly given how often this team’s strategies are justifiably lambasted, Ferrari deserves credit for making the right tactical moves to get its cars up the order. On recent form, seeing Ferrari try an alternate strategy would be a pretty surefire indication that strategy was going to be the wrong one, but leaving both cars out under the safety car paid off beautifully for gaining ground. – Matt Beer
George Russell never looked quite on par with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Montreal, but the fourth place he occupied early on in the Canadian GP would still have been a solid reward and boosted the team’s lead over Aston Martin in the fight for second in the championship.
That makes an out-of-character error – and a big one, his most ignominious since he lost his Williams under the safety car at Imola in 2020 – that he thought had ended his day especially galling.
Given he was able to continue once he’d made it back to the pits, his and Mercedes’ disappointment was only doubled considering a handful of recovery points were probably on the table, even if he felt Albon was too quick in a straight line to pass, until he had to park up late on with excessive brake wear. – JC
What’s slimmer than slim? That’s how Sergio Perez’s self-proclaimed title campaign is looking after a third consecutive rough weekend of the season.
His disappointing qualifying was followed up by an underwhelming recovery in the race as he was unable to seriously pressure the Ferraris outside of a spirited opening lap attack that Carlos Sainz ultimately undid at the final chicane.
Only recovering to sixth in F1 2023’s fastest car makes Perez a clear loser of the race. – JS
At one stage it looked like McLaren was on for a strong double points finish but that turned to ash when Lando Norris picked up a strange penalty and Oscar Piastri fell too far behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s not yet clear why Norris’s backing up of the pack to allow a double-stack pitstop was considered a breach of the FIA ISC’s ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’ rules when other instances of that tactic have been brushed off. But it meant a combative race in a car with middling pace earned him nothing.
Piastri’s lack of experience in F1’s midfield showed as he lost time squabbling with slower cars, skipping across the final chicane at one stage while running line astern with eventual seventh-place finisher Albon.
He eventually finished in 11th, benefitting from Norris’s penalty but just a little bit too far away from the Lance Stroll/Valtteri Bottas scrap ahead to challenge for the points. – JS
Nico Hulkenberg started losing before the race had even started with his three-place grid penalty for a red flag infringement.
That didn’t doom his race – as he only dropped behind much quicker cars – but the tyre-chewing tendencies of Haas’s 2023 F1 car did.
It led to an early pitstop which then caused Hulkenberg to lose time when most other drivers were able to make their stop under the subsequent early safety car.
Thereafter Hulkenberg wasn’t able to get anywhere close to recovering, instead looking backwards and defending his 15th place against Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo for the last portion of the race. – JS
The Alpine has often been F1 2023’s fifth-fastest car – and it may well have been once again this weekend in Montreal – but it ultimately finished behind Williams as the sixth-highest placed team.
That’s despite Esteban Ocon qualifying well and running at the head of the midfield pack early on.
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer even suggested at one stage mid-race to Sky Sports F1 that Ocon had a chance of challenging the Ferraris. Instead, he finished almost 40s behind them and behind a Williams in eighth place.
Pierre Gasly spent most of his race stuck in various DRS trains, unable to recover from his dismal qualifying, ending up 12th behind Piastri. – JS
OK, 16th to ninth is a decent race performance from Lance Stroll.
But when your team co-owning father has predicted ahead of the race that both his cars could get a podium at his and your home event, and when your team-mate has got that podium but you’re only just in the points because you started near the back thanks to a spin, tyre-choice miscue and blocking penalty in qualifying, that’s not great.
Russell’s crash meant Aston Martin got off lightly on Sunday and was still able to nibble two points back from Mercedes’ advantage in their battle for second in the constructors’ championship. For this to be any sort of contest over the rest of the season, Stroll has to get the consistency and stronger weekend execution that even the supportive Alonso identified as his lingering weakness. – MB