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Formula 1 | The highs, the flops and the questions after the Canadian Grand Prix

After each Grand Prix, Nextgen-Auto.com invites you to find the tops and flops identified by the editorial staff. Who deserves to be applauded? Who, on the contrary, should be criticized? Finally, what are the question marks or ambiguities, which should be followed with interest during the next Grands Prix? Check it out below!

Tops.

Top n°1: Max Verstappen as boss… as champion?

Max Verstappen may have had one of his best Grands Prix of the year, if not of his career, last weekend in Montreal. It’s hard to fault the Dutchman, who did everything well from Friday to Sunday. His performance in qualifying must be particularly commended: in tricky conditions even in a Red Bull (just ask Sergio Pérez), Max Verstappen made no mistake to display a pace that was unquestionably superior, supremely superior, to the competition. His lead of almost 7 tenths over Fernando Alonso in qualifying, 8 over Carlos Sainz, does not only reward the speed of the Red Bull, but also the unfailing talent of the world champion.

In the race, Max Verstappen flew over the debates from the start, quickly placing his pursuer Carlos Sainz at a good ten seconds. If the Ferrari had a chance of victory, it was certainly only thanks to the appearances of the safety car, virtual or not, which could have deprived the darling of Milton Keynes of an otherwise deserved victory. Still, this closer end of the race was able to highlight another quality of Max Verstappen: his resistance to pressure, his error-free defense – a single mistake would have been enough to deprive him of a victory, like the one that Sebastian Vettel facing Lewis Hamilton on the last Grand Prix disputed in Montreal.

Sovereign on Saturday and Sunday, Max Verstappen confirms his grip on the F1 championship by sowing his pursuers to more than 40 points. Here he is even overtaking Jim Clark and Niki Lauda to become the 9th most successful driver in F1. At this rate, he could quickly join Fernando Alonso on the list.

Top n°2: A good weekend that could have been excellent for Alpine

Alpine, despite Fernando Alonso’s final result, can still be satisfied with this Grand Prix. In La Belle Province, the French team was in good shape, very good. For once, the promises of free practice were again exceeded in qualifying, with the superb time of Fernando Alonso, 2nd behind Max Verstappen. Esteban Ocon was not unworthy but was very far from his teammate, more than a second and a half, notably losing time in a chicane.

In the race, fortunes were reversed… without Fernando Alonso being fully responsible. Esteban Ocon delivered a flawless, very clean, clinical race, as in his victory last year at the Hungaroring; also taking advantage of the good timing of the virtual safety car for him. On the other hand, Alonso suffered from a strange strategy (why not having him go into a virtual safety car when he was in mediums) and above all from an engine problem which deprived him of more than 7 tenths per lap. Which explained, without justifying it of course, his even rougher defense than usual (even if the Spaniard is a specialist) on Valtteri Bottas at the end of the race – Alonso obtained a deserved penalty in the affair which relegated him from 7th to 9th place.

The harvest could certainly have been excellent for Alpine, which still scores good points. The rhythm of the blue car is progressing and this is perhaps the main encouragement of this weekend: Alpine can sometimes challenge Mercedes for the status of 3rd force. Did you say ‘El Plan’?

Top n°3: Zhou finally rewarded

After a series of setbacks, retirements and misfortunes, all the more pernicious as they deprive a rookie of precious mileage, Guanyu Zhou was finally rewarded this weekend in Montreal. First Q3 in career, best result in F1 (8th place): the Chinese could let burst a communicative joy very appreciated and appreciable in the team. Guanyu Zhou had all the more merit that he discovered this circuit of Montreal at 100%. Or else, because he was not so spoiled by strategy, notably with a long stint behind the annoying but unmistakable Aston Martin F1 of Lance Stroll.

The only discontent in the Sauber family this weekend may be Théo Pourchaire, because Alfa Romeo has no reason, neither sporting nor commercial, not to extend Guanyu Zhou next year.

The flops

Flop n°1: Haas sends in the air a superb qualifying session

The art of ruining everything. You would think that Haas, with some help received from Ferrari this weekend, is a specialist in this little-chosen discipline in F1’s ParcourSup (think back to the drama of Australia 2018 with the wheels loose). And we would surely be right. This weekend in Montreal offered another example.

At the start of the race, Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher had to reap the rewards of a superb qualifying session, Haas’ best since Germany 2018 (5th and 6th places). Then: boom. In a collision on the first lap, Kevin Magnussen saw his front wing (his endplate) come off slightly and the FIA ​​logically ordered him to return to the pits to change it (black and orange flag). For Mick Schumacher, it was an unfair power unit problem (another one at Ferrari) which probably deprived him of a first deserved top 10 for this weekend. Too bad at a time when the German could have had plenty of confidence – he really needs it but this weekend can and should give him hope.

As performance declines from race to race and the Haas F1 will only evolve once, the team had to maximize the results on Saturday. This 0 scored risks hurting the team’s final balance sheet in the constructors’ classification.

Flop 2: Sergio Pérez loses big for his title hopes

Time passes quickly in F1: there are still two races, we wondered if Sergio Pérez would be able to challenge the internal hierarchy. We don’t know what will happen in two Grands Prix again, but in Montreal the Mexican lost big. Perhaps he clarified, to his detriment, the fate of the two Red Bulls in the title race.

Unfortunately Sergio Pérez shouldn’t blame bad luck but also his own performance in qualifying. On Saturday under a wet track, while his teammate Max Verstappen was flying over the proceedings, the winner of Monaco tripped over the mats when he left the track in Q2. Damaging his gearbox in the process, which had the consequences that we know the next day. Moreover, he never seemed comfortable on the weekend on the Montreal track. Ten years ago, Sergio Pérez signed a very fine podium on this same circuit, ten years later, the memories will be less striking.

Flop 3: The rhythm is still regressing at Williams

The absence of evolutions is cruelly seen at Williams. At least when the conditions do not deceive and allow Alexander Albon to express his talent in qualifying (12th place, best qualifying of the year for Williams).

When the sun came, a kiss also for the team more black than blue which logically tumbled in the classification because of its weak, very weak race rhythms. More than half a second a lap behind according to Alexander Albon on the competition, “a lot of rhythm” less according to Nicholas Latifi. To the weak car, add a weak driver: Nicholas Latifi, who almost seemed to do 70 laps of honor last Sunday. Fortunately, the FW44 will soon evolve, in a substantial way: when you see the rhythm of the Williams F1 however, one wonders if what Grove needs is less an evolution than a revolution.

We want to see…

What will change with the changes to Silverstone?

This season it was expected that the hierarchy could evolve quickly from race to race. Without changing at all, the hierarchy is indeed moving. We thus see Alpine progress, Haas and Williams regress, Aston Martin F1 gives sources of hope yet to be confirmed, while Mercedes still seems entangled in its problems. Precisely, it is at Silverstone that Mercedes as Ferrari must receive notable developments. Other teams will also take advantage of the close presence of their bases in the UK to make updates. It remains to be seen what the impact will be, knowing that it will also take several races and a variety of routes to draw the quintessence (cf. Aston Martin F1 which collects step by step the fruits of the evolutions of Barcelona).

A hierarchy a little turned upside down with a Mercedes capable of sometimes going to tickle Red Bull? A relaunched championship thanks to Ferrari developments? While Max Verstappen has widened the gap in the championship, it is not only Liberty Media and the broadcasters to hope for it.

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