Motoring Weekly

Magical Montreal

June 6 - June 12, 2024
Gulf Weekly Magical Montreal
Gulf Weekly Magical Montreal
Gulf Weekly Magical Montreal

The roar of engines and scent of burning rubber return to Montreal this week as Formula One descends upon the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix.

This iconic race, nestled on the picturesque Île Notre-Dame, promises a captivating weekend of on-track battles, fuelled by a resurgent championship fight, intriguing driver dynamics, and a circuit notorious for its unforgiving nature.

After three different winners in the last three races and a narrowing gap between the leaders in the driver standings, this weekend promises plenty of thrills throughout the racing grid.


Three-Way Thrill Ride

The narrative of a predictable championship battle has been shattered. Ferrari sweetheart Charles Leclerc’s emphatic victory in Monaco, coupled with raging Red Bull Max Verstappen’s misfortune, has injected a dose of excitement into the drivers’ championship.

The gap between the two has narrowed significantly, down to 31 points, a margin that can be cut in a single race weekend with a bit of strategic brilliance and touch of luck.

This resurgence by Ferrari is further bolstered by their consistent performance throughout the season.

They haven’t finished a race outside the points zone yet, demonstrating a level of reliability and pace that Red Bull needs to be wary of.

Meanwhile, McLaren has emerged as a genuine threat. Lando Norris’s stunning victory in Miami, albeit aided by a well-timed safety car, showcased the raw pace of the McLaren package.

Their ability to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari on a consistent basis throws another variable into the mix, transforming the championship fight into a captivating three-way battle.


Chink in the Armour?

Red Bull, the undisputed leader in both constructors’ and drivers’ standings, finds itself in a curious position.

While Verstappen holds a seemingly comfortable 31-point lead, recent races have exposed a potential Achilles’ heel: the car’s struggle with kerbs and uneven surfaces.

Monaco, a track notorious for its bumps and tight corners, proved to be Red Bull’s kryptonite, with Verstappen limping to a disappointing sixth-place finish.


The Circuit Gilles

Villeneuve, while featuring long straights, also boasts challenging chicanes and bumps, raising concerns about Red Bull’s ability to maintain its dominance.

Will they be able to adapt and find a setup that allows Verstappen to exploit the car’s raw power, or will their struggles continue, opening the door for his rivals?


Internal Combustion

The drama off the track threatens to spill over onto the asphalt in Montreal.

The collision between Alpine teammates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in Monaco was a microcosm of simmering tensions within the team.

Ocon’s audacious lunge down the inside at Portier, defying team orders and ultimately taking himself out of the race, left a bitter taste in the mouth of Alpine management.

While the team insists Ocon’s departure at the season’s end was pre-planned, the incident undoubtedly added fuel to the fire. Along similar lines, there are rumours about potential friction between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes.

Hamilton’s comments hinting at different treatments within the team suggest that while Mercedes maintains a facade of equality, internal dynamics could play a crucial role in the latter stages of the championship.


The Aston Magic?

Aston Martin, the surprise package of 2023, finds itself in a precarious position. The midfield battle has intensified as traditional powerhouses like Ferrari and McLaren have returned to form.

While Aston Martin has shown steady development, it hasn’t been enough to keep pace with the front-runners.

Fernando Alonso’s concerns about slipping back into the midfield pack are well-founded.

However, Canada offers a glimmer of hope. Last year, Alonso secured a podium finish here, showcasing the car’s ability to perform well on certain circuits.


High-Octane Drama

The Canadian Grand Prix transcends mere on-track action; it’s a spectacle.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve itself plays a starring role.

Long straights offer ample overtaking opportunities, while tight chicanes and unforgiving walls demand precision and punish mistakes severely.

Last year’s race, with Alex Albon’s masterful defence against a DRS-equipped car, is a testament to the circuit’s ability to produce thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles.

Throw in the unpredictable Canadian weather, with the ever-present threat of rain, and Montreal has all the ingredients for a truly captivating weekend of F1 action.

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