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Canadian Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from 2023 F1 Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying

Check out the Winners and Losers from a wet and wild Qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

Hulkenberg Canada wet
To news overview © XPBimages

The feeling of inevitability around Max Verstappen in Formula 1 2023 was strengthened after he claimed his fifth pole position of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Even a rainstorm could not deny the World Champion his now customary starting spot to become the first driver to secure a hat-trick of pole positions since Charles Leclerc in Spain, Monaco and Azerbaijan last season.

But since that day in June 2022 in Baku, Verstappen and Leclerc have gone on different paths - one has ascended to a level rarely seen before in Grand Prix racing, while the other is firmly in the doldrums after yet another team call cost him vital positions on the grid.

By the very nature of taking pole position in Montreal, Verstappen is the big winner from Qualifying - but we start our round-up with the driver who originally secured second alongside him.

Winner - Nico Hulkenberg

Fresh from his barbecued Haas being rebuilt after an engine failure in Friday practice, Nico Hulkenberg did what Nico Hulkenberg does in wet conditions.

A driver of his talent and skill is always a threat in the rain - and it can therefore be no coincidence that his three best Qualifying results in F1 have all been in wet weather - Brazil 2010, Austria 2016 and Canada 2023.

While it is extremely unlikely he'll stay there come the end of the race, he has given himself an excellent shot at hauling a decent bag of points for Haas - vital in the midfield battle in the Constructors'.

Yes, Hulkenberg has made mistakes down the years and thrown away the odd podium in his time, and yes, he has received a three-place grid drop for breaching red flag procedure.

But he hustled the Haas onto the front row on merit, so it's still a win of sorts.

What did Hulkenberg say?

"It is a bit unexpected, I'm very happy and proud the team did a solid job, it was very smooth,
in this weather, it's just about a lot of communications.

"A lot of radio calls going back and forth, obviously you look at what the others are doing and think for yourself, but we worked pretty well today, no major mistakes."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Carlos Sainz

Saturday in Montreal for Carlos Sainz was about as bad a day any Grand Prix driver has had in a long, long time.

Firstly, he was hauled in front of the stewards for impeding Alex Albon in FP3, then proceeded to stack it in the barrier at Turn 1 minutes after the offence was committed.

He was cleared of that, but then proceeded to do the exact same thing to Pierre Gasly in Qualifying, cue one irate Frenchman. His excuse of being blocked as well was rather meek, and the FIA handed him a fully deserved grid drop.

What did Sainz say?

"He is probably a bit excited. I got impeded seven times and I am not asking for anyone to get banned.

"I will analyse the incident and see but we were very tight with the flag. The chequered flag was about to fall and we had to get a lap in.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Mercedes

Mercedes set the W14 up for the race coming into the weekend, meaning it would be kind on its tyres to survive multiple stints.

And as Sir Isaac Newton wrote in his Third Law of Motion - every action has a reaction.

For Mercedes, this meant the car was struggling to work its tyres and get heat into them in the cool and wet conditions.

They scraped through with Lewis Hamilton into Q3 by the skin of their noses, but, with Hulkenberg's penalty taken into consideration, the Silver Arrows were rewarded with third and fourth on the grid - perhaps the best they could have expected.

With Verstappen expected to clear off into the distance in the race, another double podium is on the cards, especially as they can gang up on lone Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso while the Ferraris and Sergio Perez recover through the field.

What did Hamilton say?

"The last lap, the one lap we did, it was ok but lots of snaps, the rear temperatures were unfortunately not in the window. It was hair-raising, that's for sure."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Charles Leclerc

After being dumped out in Q2, Leclerc headed to the media pen and said how he would be firm with the team and give them what for after another strategy faux pas.

At the start of the segment, like most others, he went out on Intermediates, but it was quickly apparent that slick tyres were the best way to go as others took the gamble - but the #16 was told to stay out on track and complete the Inter tyre lap.

This is where Leclerc lacks basic killer instinct and needs to grab the initiative from his pit wall, lay down the law and tell them what is going to happen. After all, it is his backside feeling how dry the track is, so he knows when it is ready for slicks.

If you are sure enough to ask the question to come in for slicks, then it is ready for slicks. If the team tell you to stay out and you know it is the wrong decision, drive the thing into the pit lane and sit there until the tyres you want are on the car.

It is extremely unlikely Ferrari would just ignore their car sitting in the pits.

You could be damn sure that Verstappen, Alonso, or Hamilton in that same situation would not be directed to by the pit wall. Yes, Leclerc did get to complete a slick tyre lap, but the best of the conditions had passed, and it proved costly.

What did Leclerc say?

"I called for slicks on the out-lap, it was clearly [ready] for slicks. It was clearly the right choice, there was no risk taken whatsoever.

"For some reason, the team decided otherwise. That's it. We are just making our life way too difficult in those situations. I had a clear opinion and we decided to do something else. I am frustrated.

Winner - Alex Albon

And on the flip-side, we have Alex Albon and Williams.

Their call to go for slicks straight off the Q2 bat was inspired, and the Thai driver was able to top the segment - the first time a Williams driver has done so since Felipe Massa at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix.

Albon is running a hefty upgrade package this weekend and used it to great effect - at a track which should suit Williams with their slippery car.

The last time Albon had the chance to score points - in Australia - he crashed out of P6 in the early stages.

He's been presented a golden opportunity to add to the solitary point to his name - now he must deliver it, or come as close as possible to doing so.

What did Albon say?

"In Q2, we didn’t need to take the risk with the slick tyres, but we made the call. I was actually quite surprised when I saw everyone roll out on Inters! But it was great to get through and to top the times."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Sergio Perez

Perez is starting to get the full 'Max Verstappen' experience at Red Bull.

The Dutchman's robot-like consistency is frightening, but from the eight Qualifying sessions thus far in 2023, Perez has failed to make Q3 four times. That is just not good enough in a car which is class-leading.

In Australia, he struggled with the tyres, he crashed in Monaco and then struggled once again in Spain and now in Canada.

For a driver of Perez's skill, guile and experience, it is just not acceptable. He is in a rut of bad form, with every single mistake being exposed by Verstappen.

Another rescue job in the race is likely with P5 or above the target, but with the #1 having a clear track out in front of him, a mediocre haul of points just won't do.

What did Perez say?

"It was just a mess really. Pitting half a lap earlier, then the picture would have looked a lot different. It was basically a half a lap too late and track position was really poor with an Alfa Romeo [in front of us]."

Perez Canada 2023 wet © Red Bull Content Pool

F1 2023 Canadian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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