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Martin Brundle reviews the Canadian GP as Max Verstappen and Red Bull enjoy a landmark weekend

Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle reviews the Canadian GP weekend as Max Verstappen dominated to extend his championship lead to 69 points, while Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton contested an engaging battle behind the Red Bull

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Highlights of the Canadian Grand Prix, the eighth race of the season.

Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle delivers his expert verdict on the Canadian GP following a landmark weekend for Max Verstappen and Red Bull, which also delivered an intriguing battle between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

On the face of it, the Canadian Grand Prix was simply another Max Verstappen and Red Bull domination, his Ayrton Senna-equalling 41st and Red Bull's 100th F1 victory both remarkable numbers considering their reasonably short participation in the 73-year history of F1.

The podium was peak F1 at the moment because three great champions in Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen were joined by Adrian Newey representing the Red Bull team, on a day when he was celebrating 200 F1 victories for 'his' cars at Williams, McLaren, Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

The only real challenge Verstappen faced was collecting an unlucky bird, which sat alongside a brake duct rather than in it or any other cooling duct, and a trip over a nasty kerb - which earlier had spat out George Russell - which he said on the radio with giggles all round that it nearly knocked him out. He's on top of his game and things are falling well.

Wet qualifying offers tyre warning

The Montreal circuit usually throws up some special challenges, not least because it's slippery, bumpy, fast in places, and lined with walls and high kerbs. And the weather can be challenging.

A wet, albeit temporarily almost dry, qualifying served up some thrills and surprises for a nicely scrambled grid. There was a two-lap window to fit dry tyres in Q2 which the likes of Alex Albon in his Williams and a few of the other usual suspects anticipated well, but Sergio Perez in his Red Bull and Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari simply did not.

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Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Sergio Perez both missed out on Q3 after qualifying in 11th and 12th respectively.

It was a good reminder for those who want to stop tyre warmers and use F1 cars to heat them up instead, that such moments will disappear if they are banned. Nobody will venture out on cold slicks in anything like those conditions, and nor will they in a race either until it's certain they can stay on the track and generate heat rather than smash the cars to pieces.

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There are better ways to be environmentally friendly rather than fuelling an F1 car for a few extra laps to heat the tyres every run rather than directly applying a very efficient blanket system which heats specifically the tyre and wheel.

Norris unfortunate as stewards face tough weekend

All weekend the race stewards were as busy as the drivers reviewing penalties for blocking and other indiscretions. I feel for the drivers in those conditions, keeping your own car out of the wall and trying to find good speed when every braking zone, corner entry and exit, and even gentle kinks on a straight is a new adventure every lap. To then see other drivers in your mirrors through the spray and get out of the way while trying to find a clear lap for yourself is quite the challenge.

There were some very clear blocks which looked unnecessary despite all the above, not least Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari, for which he took a three-place grid drop.

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Pierre Gasly was furious with Carlos Sainz for impeding him and contributing to his exit from Q1, while the Ferrari driver criticised the Frenchman for shouting his frustrations over team radio.

The stewards were being firm with the rules. I often speak to them to understand these things and they always have data and rationale to go with their calls, there's no shooting from the hip involved. But, as with any referee system, there's a human judgment call.

In the race, Lando Norris took a five-second penalty for backing off under the Safety Car to build a gap to his team-mate Oscar Piastri ready for a double-stacked pit stop. I felt sure there was a clear rule about that so that a driver can't disadvantage all those behind while making their own pit stop faster, but the stewards had to use an umbrella rule about 'unsporting behaviour' to nail him.

Even rival team managers were telling me post-race that it's been normal and accepted behaviour to build a small gap behind the Safety Car before a double team pit stop for a few years now, which indeed was Lando's firm view.

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Check out the funniest moments from the 2023 Canada Grand Prix.

Of course like any sport you need rules and a firm referee otherwise you quickly have chaos and anarchy, but I can't help but feel our constantly evolved and complex rules are ready for a tidy-up and rationalisation.

Nico Hulkenberg would have felt that way after he lost a remarkable front-row starting position in his Haas because he got caught out in 'mini sectors' when judging his speed under red flag conditions, which had just helped him secure that second place on the grid when others had to abandon their laps.

When you see his onboard camera he was being very cautious and reasonable, but he did breach the regulations and for precedent and consistency they have to be applied while also considering his mitigating circumstances. Frustrating, but the stewards were doing their job diligently.

Aston Martin, Mercedes progressing in face of Verstappen excellence

The start of Sunday's race saw Hamilton pass Alonso and they tried to stay with Verstappen as best they could. Russell in the second Mercedes was just about hanging on in fourth and well behind them a queue was forming behind Hulkenberg's Haas, which was back to reality in race trim on a dry track.

When Russell collected the wall on lap 12 the resultant Safety Car brought 13 of the 19 remaining cars into the pits for fresh tyres. Those fast cars out of position on the grid, being both Ferraris in the hands of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, and Perez's Red Bull elected not to pit and to favour track position instead. This would turn out to be the right decision as they finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively from 10th, 11th and 12th on the grid.

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George Russell collided with the barriers as he was forced to limp back to the pitlane in his Mercedes.

It was a very decent recovery although all three cars really should have been in the fight up front. Ferrari had looked very strong in the long runs on Friday and Perez has the same equipment as Verstappen. Perez impressively won two of the first four races this season, importantly with Verstappen second to him each time, but it has all fallen apart since Max came from ninth on the grid in Miami to comfortably beat pole-sitting Sergio.

Perez will need all his maturity and experience, along with team and family support, to turn his head around and start delivering his speed and potential. I suspect only Alonso and Hamilton would have the head to cope with Verstappen at this moment and I doubt Red Bull would want that volatility in their team. The team's perfect scenario would be Sergio to finish a close second to Max every race, and win when Max can't.

The trouble is that, as Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon found out, fine young drivers get buried alongside the Dutchman's speed. At the same time, Red Bull can't have Perez off form when Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin inevitably home in on them. That's why they'll support him all the way.

Russell caught a kerb badly in Turn Eight which directed him into the outside wall with some ferocity, front and rear. He nursed it back to the pits and Mercedes fixed what they could and sent him on his way. That Mercedes rear suspension is mighty strong, as Alonso also proved when whacking the wall in his Aston Martin which uses the same design.

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Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso almost collided in the pitlane as they battled over second place before the Aston Martin driver completed the overtake on lap 22.

Russell would eventually retire having recovered back to eighth position, ironically not for a reason connected with his crash.

The fans' deserving driver of the day was Albon in the heavily updated Williams. He had pitted only once on lap 12 and so did a stellar job to coax those tyres home after 58 more laps and keep Esteban Ocon, the two McLarens, Valtteri Bottas and a fast-closing Lance Stroll in his Aston Martin behind for seventh place.

Stroll drove a fine race from 19th on the grid to steal ninth away from Bottas literally at the finish line.

The Ile Notre Dame venue is looking rather tired and left behind by today's F1, but massive and well-informed crowds line the challenging circuit every day and it often delivers a fascinating weekend.

When Alonso says he had to drive 70 qualifying laps to keep Hamilton behind him that'll do for me. And he was less than 10 seconds behind Verstappen at the finish despite having to manage what turned out to be a phantom fuel issue, which is progress compared to the early races this season.

On to Austria.


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