7 Jun 2024

Max Verstappen needs to end his M sequence in Montreal

11:12 am on 7 June 2024
Max Verstappen of Netherlands driving for Red Bull Racing F1 Team

Max Verstappen of Netherlands driving for Red Bull Racing F1 Team Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Max Verstappen was dominant in Montreal a year ago, leading every lap from pole, but he faces a fight for a third successive Canadian Grand Prix victory this weekend.

There have been three different winners in the last three races and, after winning 19 of 22 in the most one-sided Formula One season last year, Red Bull's triple world champion has now failed to win three of the last six.

Curiously, street circuits in cities starting with the letter M are the ones to have brought no joy - Melbourne, Miami and Monaco - and Verstappen needs to end that sequence.

Ferrari, winners in Australia with Carlos Sainz and Monaco with Charles Leclerc, will fancy their chances in Montreal at a circuit named after the late great Gilles Villeneuve.

Verstappen has not been beaten in two successive races since July 2022, winning in Japan after Australia and at Imola after Miami, but he identified running over kerbs as a weakness in Monaco.

Race nine of the season in Montreal, where riding over the kerbs is a fast track to gaining lap time, could see more of the same.

"We've had this problem since 2022, but of course for the last two years we had a car advantage and it gets masked a little bit as we gain a bit in the corners where the kerbs and the bumps are not the limitation," Verstappen said in Monaco.

"But with everyone catching up, naturally when you're not improving your weakest point you get found out..."

Team mate Sergio Perez, who crashed out of the Monaco race, has something to celebrate already with Red Bull announcing his two-year contract extension earlier in the week.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur predicted another close battle in Canada between the Red Bulls and the red cars, as well as McLaren.

Ferrari are now only 24 points behind Red Bull, and have scored with both cars in every race unlike their rivals, while Leclerc is 31 behind Verstappen.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"It's probably almost the opposite to Monaco in terms of speed but you also have the characteristics of the kerbs, with a lot of low speed corners and chicanes," Vasseur told reporters in Monaco.

"Some corners (are) similar to Monaco but overall we were performing in Melbourne, we did well in Imola, in Miami with different type of compounds and Tarmac, different layout. It will be tight."

McLaren will also hope to continue in the mix after a run of four successive podium places, including Lando Norris's Miami victory and Oscar Piastri's second place in Monaco.

"Our car has performed well at a few different types of circuits, but we know we might have our work cut out in Canada," Norris said.

"Our competitors are likely to be strong here."

Canada marks a return for Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton to the circuit where, in 2007 as a McLaren driver, he took his first of 103 wins.

"Both drivers will have the updated front wing in Canada, plus some other development items for this event," team boss Toto Wolff said.

"It offered a small lap time gain around the tight streets of the principality and should offer greater benefit on upcoming circuits."

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll is the only Canadian in the race but has yet to finish higher than ninth at his home town circuit.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Grand Prix Formula One Canada

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Grand Prix Formula One Canada Photo: PHOTOSPORT

F1 statistics for the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, round nine of the 24-race championship:

Lap distance: 4.361km. Total distance: 305.270km (70 laps)

2023 pole position: Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull one minute 25.858 seconds.

2023 race winner: Verstappen

Race lap record: Valtteri Bottas (Finland) 1:13.078, Mercedes, 2019.

Start time: 1800GMT (1400 local)

53rd grand prix in Canada

This weekend will be the 53rd Canadian Grand Prix, and 43rd in Montreal.

Lewis Hamilton has won seven times in Montreal (in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019), including the first of his career. He holds the record jointly with Ferrari great Michael Schumacher.

Fernando Alonso (2006), Verstappen (2022, 2023) and Daniel Ricciardo (2014) have also won in Canada.

The circuit on the Ile Notre-Dame has 14 corners and is named after late Ferrari great Gilles Villeneuve. McLaren have won 13 times in Canada, Ferrari 12 times (11 in Montreal), with seven poles and nine fastest laps.

The rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix of 2011 was Formula One's longest race, lasting four hours, four minutes and 39.537 seconds. The safety car was deployed six times, another record.

The circuit is tough on brakes and the surface has been relaid for this year.

The wall at the exit to the final corner has been dubbed "The Wall of Champions" since 1999 when Damon Hill, Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed there.

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll is the sole Canadian in the race. The last Canadian to stand on a home podium was Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.

Championsip lead

Verstappen has led the championship for a record 47 successive races dating back to Spain in May 2022 and arrives in Montreal 31 points clear of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull are 24 points clear of Ferrari.


Verstappen has won five of eight races this season, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz triumphant in Melbourne, McLaren's Lando Norris in Miami and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in Monaco.

Ferrari are the only team to have had two winning drivers this season.

Hamilton has a record 103 career victories from 340 starts. He has now gone 53 races without a win, a run dating back to 2021.

Red Bull won 21 of 22 races last year, with Verstappen victorious in a record 19, and have won 36 of the last 41.

The team have won 118 races and are fourth in the all-time list of winners. Ferrari lead with 245, McLaren have 184 and Mercedes 125.

Verstappen has won 59 grands prix and is third on the all-time list. Michael Schumacher is second on 91.

Pole position

Hamilton has a record 104 career poles, his most recent in Hungary last year.

Verstappen took the first seven poles of the season, equalling Alain Prost's 1993 record, and eight in a row including the last race of 2023 - equalling Ayrton Senna's 1988-89 record.

Leclerc ended that run with pole in Monaco.


Verstappen has 104 career podiums, Hamilton 197.

The Red Bull driver set a record of 21 podiums in a season last year but Michael Schumacher remains the only driver to have stood on the podium in every race of a season (2002).

Verstappen has been on the podium six times in eight races this season.

He is chasing his third Canadian GP win in a row.

The race marks 10 years since Ricciardo's first Formula One win at the circuit in 2014.


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