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Canadian GP: Max Verstappen admits Red Bull concern as Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc eye win

Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren could be set for a six-car fight for pole position and the win this weekend in Montreal; watch every session of the Canadian GP live on Sky Sports F1, with first practice at 6.30pm on Friday and Sunday's race at 7pm

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Charles Leclerc says he's not stopping after his win at Monaco this season and is focusing on what's ahead

Max Verstappen has admitted Red Bull do not have a fix for their problems with kerbs as they could be on the back foot for a second consecutive weekend at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Verstappen had his worst finishing result in 18 months last time out in Monaco as he took sixth place and saw his championship lead cut to 31 points over Charles Leclerc, who won his home event.

Leclerc beat Oscar Piastri, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris to victory as Ferrari and McLaren were a step ahead of Red Bull on the tight, twisty Monaco circuit.

This weekend's race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is very different to Monaco but there are several chicanes with relatively high kerbs, which is Red Bull's biggest weakness.

"I wouldn't call it [Monaco] a blip. We knew that was not going to be a good track for us just with the limitations that we have at the moment with the car over kerbs and bumps," Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

"We've had it for a long time so it's nothing new, but naturally when people around us are catching up, these problems are a bit more apparent.

"We know that we have to improve it. We had a very constructive week after Monaco to look into details of why it's not so good on our side."

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Max Verstappen says the team has a clear direction they are pushing towards and is not concerned with the performance after Red Bull appeared to struggle in Monaco

Red Bull failed to win just one race in 2023, the Singapore Grand Prix, another track where kerb riding is important.

The floor of the Red Bull car works very well in the high-speed corners but the suspension appears to be too stiff when it comes to going over kerbs, so the car is unsettled.

Verstappen, who won last year's Canadian Grand Prix, says the Monaco weekend gave Red Bull a "wake-up" call.

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Verstappen says Red Bull's strategy got ruined after the red flag in Monaco and it turned into a 'boring' GP

"We have to just work step by step to solve it, but it's not something you can fix within one or two weeks," he added.

"At least it's a clear direction that we're pushing into and I'm sure that if we not necessarily solve it, but make it better, we immediately unlock a lot of lap time.

"The car's not absorbing the kerbs and the bumps like it should be, compared to maybe some of our competitors. That's what we have to work on, because when you keep jumping on bumps and kerbs, you don't have grip because the wheels are in the air, and that's where we lost a lot of time in Monaco."

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (L) and McLaren's British driver Lando Norris compete during the Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari race track in Imola on May 19, 2024. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)
Image: Kerb riding is a weakness of Red Bull in 2024 and there are no short-term solutions

Norris: Ferrari are favourites but McLaren have good chance

McLaren have been in contention for the win at the last three races in Miami, Imola and Monaco, with Lando Norris taking his maiden F1 victory at the Miami Grand Prix.

The Woking-based team didn't score points in Montreal 12 months ago but Norris isn't ruling out the prospect of standing on the top step of the podium on Sunday.

"I think all weekends at the minute we seem close and impossible to say, can't say no," the 24-year-old said.

"I'm never going to say, 'yeah, this is my weekend.' But I'm confident enough to say that the last few weekends we've proved that we're close, we're in a good fight with Red Bull and Ferrari.

"So I'd like to say, yeah, we have a good chance. The team are performing very well, I feel like I am. The whole team is as a collection and that gives us good confidence into every weekend."

Norris still thinks McLaren's biggest weakness is the slow-speed corners, of which there are some in Montreal, outside of the chicanes.

He says the team "need to improve more to be on par with Ferrari" in those corners, and sees the Scuderia as the team to beat this weekend.

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"I think they [Ferrari] are favourites. With kerb riding, that's a big part around here," said Norris.

"It's going to be close. It's impossible for me to say if it will be us, Ferrari or Red Bull on top. That's why it's exciting. None of us really know and it's going to be close. Ferrari I would probably put as favourites."

Leclerc believes Ferrari can win the championship

Ferrari's double podium in Monaco has put them just 24 points adrift of Red Bull in the constructors' championship with 16 races remaining in 2024.

Leclerc fought Verstappen for the drivers' title in the first half of 2022, before his championship challenge faded away due to mistakes and lack of development.

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Ferrari continue their celebrations by jumping in the harbour after their victory in the Monaco Grand Prix

Red Bull have won the last three constructors' titles but this year could be their toughest battle yet.

"I have to believe in it, and I believe in it," said Leclerc when asked by Sky Sports F1 if Red Bull are beatable in either championship.

"However, let's say that I think the last two races have been not the tracks that favour Red Bull or show their strengths. I don't think that this one is a track that will show their strength either, so it might be an opportunity again for us.

"From Barcelona (the race after Montreal) onwards, I think we will see back the Red Bull that we have seen at the beginning of the year, which if this is the case, might be more difficult to beat.

"But my hopes remain high. We still have some things that we want to bring to the car, and if that is enough to close the gap, then that's great. And we'll put them under more pressure.

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Strategy analyst Bernie Collins describes the value Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has brought to the team

"And once they will be under a bit more pressure, it's like everybody… when it's a walk in the park, it's easier to not to make any mistakes and even if you do one it probably is not seen as much.

"When you are under a bit more pressure, hopefully we can push them into more mistakes and take our chances. For now, I don't feel like we are quite there yet. But looking at this weekend, I feel like it can be an opportunity."

Carlos Sainz pushed Verstappen close to the Canadian Grand Prix win in 2022 and both Ferrari drivers came through the field strongly last year after a disappointing qualifying.

Rain could be a major factor throughout the weekend and there has only been one competitive wet session this year, the Sprint Qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix.

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An intense end to Sprint Qualifying at the Chinese GP saw Lando Norris take pole position from Lewis Hamilton in the rain earlier this year

Leclerc hopes the rain stays away on Sunday due to the chaos it can cause and was also told in the written media about Norris' Ferrari favourite status comments.

"They always say that! Whether it's Helmut one weekend, Lando the other," responded Leclerc.

"Everyone doesn't want to hear they are the favourites, so you are never going to hear me say we are the favourites, and same with them.

"I think the reality is we are so closely matched between three teams, that it will be down to the ones who do the better job, as well as the rain will be here and we haven't really driven here with these cars yet in the rain."

Sky Sports F1's live Canadian GP schedule

Friday June 7
6pm: Canadian GP Practice One (session starts at 6.30pm)
8pm: The F1 Show
9.45pm: Canadian GP Practice Two (session starts at 10pm)

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A look back at some of the most dramatic moments from the Canadian Grand Prix

Saturday June 8
5.15pm: Canadian GP Practice Three (session starts at 5.30pm)
8pm: Canadian GP Qualifying build-up
9pm: Canadian GP Qualifying
11pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Sunday June 9
5.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday - Canadian GP build-up
9pm: Chequered Flag - Canadian GP reaction
10pm: Ted's Notebook

Formula 1 leaves Europe for the final time before the summer break as the championship moves on to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday's race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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