Canadian GP conclusions: Villeneuve v Ricciardo and Russell’s new nickname

By | June 10, 2024

Canadian GP conclusions: Villeneuve v Ricciardo and Russell’s new nickname

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen claimed his sixth victory of the F1 2024 season in the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Verstappen emerged victorious from a wet-dry race and was joined on the podium by McLaren driver Lando Norris and George Russell of Mercedes. Here are our conclusions from Montreal…

Conclusions from the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen will make the difference in any F1 2024 title fight

So, are Red Bull really in a title fight in F1 2024? Some seemed convinced after Monaco.

Less so now, another victory for Verstappen – his 50th in 75 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021 – restoring his points lead over Charles Leclerc to a more comfortable 56.

When the question was first posed to him before Monaco that Red Bull might not have it all their own way after all in F1 2024, Verstappen told media including that the team would be “very dangerous” and “very tough” to beat in a World Championship showdown.

Why? Because they “don’t make many mistakes”, for one, but also because of their recent experience of competing at the front.

Winning, they say, is a habit. Winning breeds winning. And the more you win, the more practiced you become at it.

Ferrari and McLaren may be two of the grandest names in F1 history, yet – both without a World Championship of any kind since 2008 – in their current state are relatively immature teams compared to a battle-hardened Red Bull.

In much the same way Leclerc and Norris, with just seven grand prix victories between them, are relatively immature (in success terms) drivers compared to Verstappen.

It wasn’t long ago that Verstappen himself was in their position too, at the foot of the mountain hoping against hope of taking the fight to an all-conquering Lewis Hamilton.

Now, as he stands as King Max III, his decisive performance across the Canadian Grand Prix weekend was a demonstration of how far he has come in relatively little time.

Yet it was his measured performance in the race – judging when to survive, particularly in those uncertain conditions in the early laps, and when to go in for the kill – that captured his true value to Red Bull.

Red Bull were vulnerable here, Max never quite comfortable with the car as evidenced by his radio message in the closing stages that he was having to avoid the kerbs at all costs.

Yet, as at Imola three weeks ago, in Verstappen they have the perfect driver to overcome the car’s flaws and haul a victory over the line through sheer force of will and by any means necessary.

“I believe that the Verstappen factor will be decisive on tracks that are less favourable for us,” Red Bull’s Helmut Marko said recently. “He is in top form and makes the difference.

“There is no other driver who can drive at the limit on every lap of the race without making mistakes.”

Exhibit A: Canada 2024.

Daniel Ricciardo vs Jacques Villeneuve: The truth hurts

The F1 paddock is a small world. Hence why television pundits, on the whole, are far less likely to voice strident opinions compared to those in other sports.

The risk of a tap on the shoulder, followed by an uncomfortable conversation, once the cameras stop rolling is too great. Some of the current drivers are even considered close friends of those on screen.

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