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Canadian drivers in the hard before the Montreal Grand Prix

Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi are struggling to get their season started. AI/Reuters/Panoramic/HAMAD I MOHAMMED/AFP/Dan Mullan

Struggling for several weeks, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi are hoping for a rebound for the return of their grand prix at home.

It is not good to be Canadian in Formula 1. Almost a quarter of a century after the title of Jacques Villeneuve (1997), Canada is still waiting for a worthy successor to the one who became a consultant for Canal+ since 2013. And to hear the regular flights of the consultant about his compatriots Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, the succession is far from assured.

And for good reason, the two men have been disappointing since the start of a season in line with the previous ones. Insignificant from an accounting point of view (2 points for Stroll alone), the Aston Martin (Stroll) and Williams (Latifi) drivers shine above all for their setbacks on the track, as during the Australian Grand Prix, where the duo Canadian inexplicably got stuck in qualifying. Latest example, the exit from the road of the first, still in “qualifiers”, in Baku last week. Not the best publicity before the return of the Grand Prix of Canada, in Montreal this Sunday (8 p.m.), after three years of absence due to the pandemic.

There will be a lot of work to get the car in shape from the first practice sessions, I want to get a good result at home“, promises Stroll, who has only two points finishes in 2022 (at Imola then Miami) but remains on two 9th places in three appearances on the Gilles-Villeneuve route.

“Champion of the Walls”

A circuit old school and tricky where Latifi has never performed before. Still looking for his first points this season, the native Montrealer will discover his house grand prix and its subtleties, starting the last chicane leading to the mythical “Wall of Champions”. For the occasion, the Ontarian was nicknamed “champion of the walls” on social networks.

A thinly veiled nod to his exits from the road, the most significant being the one that led to the restart of the last race of the epic 2021 season, when Max Verstappen was able to resume history before winning his first title of world champion. Since then, it is no longer just that communicative smile that accompanies the person concerned in the paddock, but also and above all that image of a driver who is quick to wave yellow, red or even blue flags (when latecomers are invited to let their predecessors), which he did not respect in Azerbaijan last week.

Boats in danger?

Records of service that fuel the idea of ​​a failed casting for the 26-year-old driver, who arrived in Formula 1 in 2020. An arrival facilitated by the money of his father, at the head of Sofina Foods, whose sponsorship allowed to the Williams stable to stay alive. Except that since then, Latifi has paled next to his teammates, George Russell (new Mercedes driver) then Alex Albon, who arrived at the start of the year (3 points). So much so that the small world of F1 wonders about the probability of seeing the Canadian take his first but also his last GP of Canada this weekend.

I focus on what I can control and improving my performance, he confides in Montreal Journal . If you get a bad result, the critics will be there. This is true in F1, but also in other sports. Lately, rumors concerning the early arrival (from Silverstone?) of Oscar Piastri, Formula 2 world champion and Alpine reserve driver, pose the threat of an ejection seat. “Rumors have always been part of F1, it was the same before I arrived“, notes a Latifi at the end of the contract at the end of the season but who has “didn’t think of a plan B“.

Plan B, Stroll could end up needing it if he continues to be dominated by his partner Sebastian Vettel. Protected for the same reasons (his father Lawrence owns the Aston Martin team), the 23-year-old driver would no longer be as untouchable as before. Consulting for Sky Sports, former driver Johnny Herbert does not hesitate to imagine a negative outcome for the one who started his F1 career in 2018. “If things don’t get better, Lawrence will eventually say, “Son, I gave you a chance and it didn’t work out, I have to do what’s right for the team now.”thus declares the Briton in the podcast F1 Nation. I don’t think it will end up happening, but I don’t know when.“A disappointment at home would not help matters.

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