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Canadian Grand Prix 2023

Alonso bleak streak to end? What to expect at the Canadian GP

What can we expect as F1 returns to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix?

Alonso Verstappen
To news overview © XPBimages

Formula 1 is back in Montreal for the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix as Max Verstappen looks to extend his already ominous championship lead.

The two-time World Champion finds himself 53 points ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in the standings, with five wins to his name from the opening seven races.

With another victory for the Dutchman hard to bet against, here's what else you can expect from the Canadian Grand Prix.

Alonso back in the hunt for result shock

Could Fernando Alonso finally get a pole position after an 11-year wait? The Canadian GP provides a great chance for the two-time World Champion.

The Spaniard delivered a stunning lap here last season to put his Alpine on the front row, so why can't he go a step further with a much more performative Aston Martin?

Max Verstappen will no doubt be the favourite once again given his and Red Bull's dominance but it would be hard to deny Alonso at least a chance in qualifying, though race day will be another matter altogether.

Teammate Lance Stroll could also provide a show for his home crowd by building on his performance from Spain two weeks ago.

Stroll outperformed Alonso at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and will be aiming to continue the trend after a difficult start to the season.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Mercedes progress could be stunted

Mercedes jumped ahead of Aston Martin in the Constructors' standings by virtue of a double podium finish in Spain.

The result confirmed that a raft of upgrades added to the car in Monaco had moved the W14 in the right direction as the Brackley-based outfit attempt to drag itself out of a mire.

But the uniqueness of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve could scupper that upward curve with the street layout likely to demonstrate characteristics akin to Monaco, albeit at a higher speed. Mercedes finished fourth and fifth at the Principality, though that result was assisted mostly by smart strategy as rain fell.

If a step back is taken, it is important not to pay too much attention to this one event and instead switch focus back to the traditional European circuits where the Spanish GP performance can be franked.

Can Ferrari use Le Mans wave?

Ferrari's F1 effort may be struggling with widespread issues lingering from its lacklustre title fight last season, but optimism within the Scuderia has been boosted by Le Mans 24 Hour success.

The Italian marque returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe and secured a first overall win since 1965 courtesy of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and former Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi.

Charles Leclerc and Frederic Vasseur were in attendance to watch the feat and the positivity can emanate through the manufacturer.

Tyre degradation is still an issue, as is out and out performance on high fuel, but upgrades were introduced in Spain to begin fighting some of its gremlins.

Much like Alonso's prospects mentioned above, qualifying could provide a foundation for a strong result for Leclerc – who desperately needs to bounce back from his Spanish nightmare – and Carlos Sainz, who was let down by race-pace issues at his home Grand Prix.

Alpine resurgence to continue

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have gone a long way to overcoming the scathing criticism levelled at Alpine by CEO Laurent Rossi.

There was nothing amateur in Ocon's Monaco podium but a double points finish in Spain last time out proved the form was far from a one-off.

The French manufacturer looks to have firmly secured its position in the top-five teams and will have now adjusted its sights on tracking down Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin and joining that group battling for consistent podium outings.

That is achievable on the current trajectory of the A523, though further upgrades will be needed. Alonso proved its effectiveness in Canada last season, however, so there should be no stopping the points accumulation this weekend.

Safety Car to reappear?

There is a high chance of the Safety Car making an appearance at the Canadian GP, with any laps taken under neutralisation marking the end of an astonishing run of cleanliness in the sport.

Despite 66 laps in Spain, 78 laps in Monaco – with a dramatic rain shower involved – and 57 laps in Miami, the Safety Car hasn't taken to the track for an incident since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

It means there's been no pegging back of Red Bull's huge margin at the front of the field, no sudden strategic changes and no grandstand finishes afforded.

Could the narrow Montreal venue give Bernd Maylander a reason to leave the pits?

F1 2023 Canadian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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