Canadian GP: Max Verstappen faces the battle for the title and Lewis Hamilton’s situation at Mercedes among the topics of conversation | F1 News

As the 2024 Formula 1 season resumes with the prospect of a genuine title race to enjoy over the summer months, Sky Sports F1 Take a look at the top talking points ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

After a pair of races in Europe, F1 briefly crosses the Atlantic Ocean once more before five races in six weeks follow on the continent before the summer break.

With three drivers from different teams sharing victories in the last three races, it has been a long time since an F1 weekend has been so anticipated.

There have also been major developments within the driver market since the Monaco Grand Prix with the 2025 grid beginning to take shape, but many questions remain ahead of Thursday’s media day in Canada.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve offers the perfect venue, with some of the best and most passionate F1 fans in the world sure to create a brilliant atmosphere on a weekend where the weather is likely to add to the drama.

Can Ferrari and McLaren keep up the challenge from Red Bull?

McLaren’s Lando Norris beat Max Verstappen in Miami to take his first F1 victory, then came close to a second successive victory when the Red Bull driver narrowly missed victory at Imola two weeks later. .

Ferrari then responded in Monaco when Charles Leclerc finally triumphed in his home race and ended a nearly two-year winless streak that had built amid Verstappen’s dominance.

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Charles Leclerc lifts the curse of winning in his hometown of Monaco

Verstappen’s lead over Leclerc at the top of the drivers’ standings has been reduced to 31 points, and Ferrari has closed to within 24 points of Red Bull at the top of the Constructors’ Championship.

Four wins in the first five races appeared to have put Verstappen on an easy path to a fourth consecutive title, but Red Bull’s shrinking lead in recent weeks has created a real danger for the reigning champions.

While many expect Verstappen to still have the advantage at some of the more traditional circuits coming up on the calendar, the curbs and slow corners in Canada are expected to reveal the same weaknesses that caused Red Bull to struggle in Monaco.

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Ferrari continues its celebrations by jumping into the harbor after its victory at the Monaco Grand Prix

McLaren has been extremely consistent since bringing a host of improvements to Miami and will almost certainly be in the mix, while it remains to be seen if Ferrari has resolved a battery implementation issue that hampered them at Imola but will likely never It would hurt its chances at Monaco’s relatively slow speeds.

Unlike the Principality, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve also has long straights and overtaking opportunities that should ensure a very entertaining Sunday.

The competitive landscape promises to be exciting in dry conditions, but the weekend could become even more unpredictable due to a forecast that currently suggests it could rain during the three days of on-track action.

Will Perez’s extension calm Red Bull’s storm even further?

Despite having two very bad weekends in succession, the solid start that Sergio Pérez had in the previous season has proven to be enough to earn him a two-year contract extension at Red Bull.

The deal ends speculation over who will drive alongside Max Verstappen next year and closes the last available seat in which a driver can reasonably expect to compete for the 2025 drivers’ title.

While commercial factors, as with any driver deal, were certainly a consideration when Red Bull renewed Pérez, with the Mexican being hugely popular inside and outside the Latin American market, the most important factor in the decision is surely Verstappen’s happiness.

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Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater explains how news of Sergio Perez’s two-year contract extension at Red Bull impacts the Formula One driver market

Despite having an official contract with Red Bull until the end of 2028, Verstappen’s departure before then has become a realistic possibility amid unrest at the top of the team, rivals closing in on the track and an imminent change of regulations in 2026.

While the relationship between Verstappen and Perez has not always been perfect, there has been minimal friction over a long period of time, and retaining him seems unlikely to upset the Dutchman or his advisors.

The more realistic alternative was Carlos Sainz, but Red Bull would have risked irritating Verstappen by re-forming a pairing that experienced tension when they drove together for Toro Rosso in 2015 and 2016.

While keeping Perez ensures that Red Bull remains with the weakest driver in any of the top teams, Christian Horner hopes that doing so will significantly increase their chances of keeping the sport’s best driver for the foreseeable future.

As for Sainz, with Red Bull off the table, Williams and Sauber appear to be the only realistic 2025 options for the outgoing Ferrari driver.

Hamilton gets new role after cryptic comments in Monaco

Mercedes hopes to sneak into the battle for race wins, but unless something very dramatic happens with the weather, Canada is likely to arrive too soon for such hopes to be realistic.

The new front wing that George Russell used in Monaco will now also be on Lewis Hamilton’s car, and Canada will provide a much better measuring stick for the part’s impact than Monaco.

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Following Monaco GP qualifying, Lewis Hamilton expressed confusion over his performance in qualifying compared to practice.

The use of the piece, of which only one was ready in time for Monaco, seemed to influence some rather strange comments Hamilton made to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying, when he said he doesn’t anticipate beating Russell in a lap on any occasion for the rest of the year.

The somewhat cryptic comments, which came as Hamilton trailed Russell 7-1 in qualifying this season, appeared to be the first real signs of growing tension between Hamilton and Mercedes during his final season before joining Ferrari.

Mercedes insisted Hamilton had not wanted to use the new front wing and was happy for Russell to do so, but the seven-time world champion appears suspicious of Russell, who will remain with the team next season and receive preferential treatment.

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Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, David Croft and Simon Lazen discuss whether Carlos Sainz is frustrated at losing his seat to Lewis Hamilton.

With 16 races still to go, Mercedes remains hopeful of bringing improvements that will allow them to close the gap on Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, but any dispute within the team could stifle progress.

So it will be fascinating to see how Hamilton decides to handle the situation when he is inevitably asked about his comments at some point on Thursday.

How will Ocon face the departure of Alpine?

The other big development in the driver market that has occurred since Monaco was Alpine’s confirmation that Esteban Ocon will leave the team at the end of the season.

The split, presented as a mutual decision, comes after Ocon crashed into teammate Pierre Gasly on the opening lap of the Monaco Grand Prix, after which team boss Bruno Famin promised there would be “consequences.” “.

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A look back at all the times Alpine driver Esteban Ocon has been involved in a collision with his teammate

Ocon retired as a result of the collision, but received a five-place grid penalty that he will serve in Canada, leaving him with little hope of scoring points.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Alpine has decided to take advantage of this weekend to allow reserve driver Jack Doohan to complete one of the team’s two mandatory young driver training sessions this season.

While Ocon has apologized for causing the Monaco incident, the fact that it is now confirmed that he will leave at the end of the season is unlikely to completely dissipate the tension between him and Gasly.

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In the Sky Sports F1 podcast, David Croft and Simon Lazenby explain the reasons for Esteban Ocon’s departure from Alpine at the end of the season

Ocon’s departure was not the only news to emerge in what has been a catastrophic campaign for the Enstone team, with veteran operations director Rob White becoming the latest senior figure in the team to be sacked.

Famin still faces a huge task in turning things around in Alpine, but simply keeping the peace for the rest of 2024 could prove a challenge.

Canadian GP schedule live from Sky Sports F1

Thursday June 6
7:30 p.m.: Drivers’ press conference

Friday June 7
6:00 pm: practice one of the Canadian GP (The session begins at 6:30 p.m.)
8:00 p.m.: The F1 show
9:45 p.m.: practice two of the Canadian GP (the session starts at 10pm)

Montreal hosts the ninth round of the 2024 F1 season with the Canadian Grand Prix
Montreal hosts the ninth round of the 2024 F1 season with the Canadian Grand Prix

Saturday June 8
17.15: Third practice of the Canadian GP (the session starts at 5:30 p.m.)
8:00 p.m.: preparation for the Canadian GP classification
9:00 p.m.: Canadian GP Classification
11:00 p.m.: Ted’s classification notebook

Sunday June 9
5:30 p.m.: Sunday Grand Prix: preparation for the Canadian GP
9:00 p.m.: Checkered flag – Reaction to the Canadian GP
10:00 p.m.: Ted’s Notebook

Formula 1 leaves Europe for the last time before the summer break as the championship moves to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 7pm Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month membership – no contract, cancel at any moment

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