Formula 1 weekend hit Montreal for the first time since 2019 and after a rainy qualifying day – the sun came out for race Sunday. Let’s be honest, asphalt gleams and glitters in the wet, and the whole weekend did just that too.
We were not just trackside, thanks to Mercedes-Benz Canada we experienced the grandest of the Grand Prix. From a Hot Laps ride with the phenomenal, up-and-coming women of racing (full story on this to come), to qualifying day at the Mercedes Elite lounge and an evening at the official Red Carpet Kick-Off Gala with a very special guest, arriving in a very special ride.
And yes, of course – a roaring day at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve grounds for a pivotal half-season race.
Starting at the finish line, Sunday’s race gave us some true tire-to-tire trials in all sections of the race. Early season leader Charles LeClerc wasn’t giving anything up, this weekend or this season. Despite his grid penalty 19th place start, he flew through the pack early, making it to fight Esteban Ocon, quite literally wheel to wheel for the majority of the mid-race, finally breaking past the Alpine driver for a 5th place finish. The current leader and reigning World Champion, Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen continued his comfortable winning streak, topping the podium and building his break-away lead. This race, though, breaking away was made a lot less comfortable by LeClerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz. After some bad luck this season, and being passed while pitting this race, Sainz didn’t let off the leader, finishing less than a second behind Verstappen for a better than the last few races in second place. Finally, our hosts with the most Mercedes-Benz saw a 4th place finish for George Russell, who has completed every race within the top 5, making him the only racer with points every race so far – a great start for him this season and in his first year with Mercedes-Benz team. But maybe most excitingly, the third-place podium, for our man of the weekend Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Remember, we mentioned the special gala guest, yes – that Sir Lewis Hamilton was it. He arrived at the Le Richmond red carpet in Griffintown the evening before in style in a 1955 300 SL Gullwing. He greeted the crowd warmly and gushed about how Montreal is one of his favourites “a little like a karting track” he said, and shouted out his team and performance coach Angela Cullen, before taking off with them to prepare for the race. It paid off!
For the rest of the night, guests enjoyed the evening at Le Richmond including dancing, stunning lobster and oyster platters, champagne and classic cocktails.
Besides this weekend though, we encouraged you to keep up so if you’ve been with us or not, we thought we’d bring you the highlights.
Where we’re at:
- Montreal’s race was round 9 out of the 23 race calendar – just shy of halfway through and the new car regulations have caused some pretty surprising results and serious challenges to some of our favourite teams – including Mercedes. Especially at the beginning of the season, the cars were dealing with a lot of porpoising (which essentially means the car gains and loses downforce causing it to bounce on straights). We love the rolling and bouncing in Pharell’s new music video with Tyler the Creator and 21 Savage “Cash in Cash Out” but not so much on track.
- As a result of the changes, and just the nature of a good season of Formula 1 – both the constructors and drivers championships have been hot. Starting out – the Ferrari team, who weren’t in competition for the top last season at all, took a quick lead and LeClerc looked to breakaway. Ferrari’s maximum points in the first race looked especially strong compared to the double DNF for Red Bull. Red Bull did see some serious early-season power unit issues for both drivers, however, since Max has been finishing races, it’s been in first, with the exception of once, third to teammate Sergio Checo Perez. As Red Bull has been collecting points, the engine issues seem to have fallen on Ferrari – a number of races have recently ended in DNF’s for one or both drivers, as well as drivers on other Ferrari power engine teams Haas and Alpha Romeo.
- Netflix’s Drive to Survive instigated a surge of F1 fandom and North American interest continues. The USA is responding by adding another track to the calendar for 2024 after premiering the Miami track this year, 10xing the glitz in Las Vegas next year! We are ready for the show.
- Fashion continues to feature and become a contentious issue. Sir Lewis Hamilton has not been disappointing as usual but was vocally disappointed by the FIA’s decision to enforce the ban on jewelry under uniforms after the very flashy Miami race round 5. Miami did give an excuse to McClaren’s Daniel Riccardo and Lando Norris to cause a cute uproar showing up in team orange crop top’s on day one.
- After a year off the track, spending time as Red Bull reserve driver and driver coach to AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda, Alexander Albon signed to team Williams, getting him back on the grid, and spending time in Thailand? Williams team boss Jost Capito’s brother has been living in Bangkok for a decade running children’s charity orphanage Wat Sakaeo. Making the connection to the Thai-British racer’s family background, en route to the round 3 in Australia he stopped to visit, then showed up to the race weekend with a shock of red hair thanks the hands of the kids. Williams’ last few years haven’t been the strongest, but Albon brought home the first season point in Australia and then 2 in Miami (where he showed up again with a red coiff) – happily hoping it will keep him on a hot streak. Good news is, the red has stayed and looks great on him, the less good news is he is still at 3 points but we have high hopes.
- The two Canadian racers are still representing however they can, but after this weekend it was clear that the Canadian F1 superstar really is how we host the show. Is it time for another track here soon too?
We’re bouncing in the best way after this weekend, and F1 is bouncing over the pond for the next race at Great Britain’s famous Silverstone track the first weekend of July.
Now that you’re up to date, watch with us in Canada on TSN in English, RDS in French and in the US on ESPN. You can also sign up directly for Formula1 TV on their website for all races including Saturday qualifiers by clicking here.