Hello, Montreal. Formula 1 returns to the 2.7-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve for the first time since 2019 for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Canada. Because of the gap between races — COVID-19 canceled the 2020 and 2021 events — this one has been circled by many on the calendar. To say the race is highly anticipated would be an understatement, as Montreal is a venue that the teams enjoy going to, and the fans in Canada are anxiously — if not robustly — awaiting its return.
How to watch the F1 Grand Prix of Canada
- Date: Sunday, June 19
- Location: Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Stream: fuboTV (get access now)
What to watch for
Because it has been so long since the series competed at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, and the cars and tires have changed so much, the practice sessions will be key for all the teams. The data from 2019 may be used by some as a starting point, and extrapolated out by computers no doubt, but it’s unclear how relevant they are now.
And there is still nothing like real-world data gathered the old-fashioned way from actually running the car.
With track time being a premium, Friday’s forecast of rain will make Saturday’s practice sessions even more important before qualifying is conducted. The weather is predicted to be sunny for Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures expected to come in as low as 66 degrees Fahrenheit but not rising above 73 degrees for the weekend.
The barricade walls are close to the track, particularly the infamous “Wall of Champions” that has collected three F1 World Champions (Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve) as well as numerous other drivers. There is little area for runoff, so a stranded car may produce a safety car period — or at least a virtual safety car.
Aside from the “Wall of Champions,” the circuit is also famous for its Turn 10 hairpin and the opening Turns of 1-2 that are called the “Senna S.” The drivers will navigate the 14 turns for 70 laps, and the track will feature three DRS zones. The first DRS zone is between Turns 7-8, the second just before Turn 12 and before the entry to Turn 13, and the final zone starts after Turn 14, through the front straight and just before Turn 1.
Pirelli is expected to bring the softest tires they have: The hard C3 “Whites,” the medium C4 “Yellows” and the soft C5 “Reds.” The 2019 race saw a one-stop strategy, so it will be interesting to see through the practice sessions if teams consider something else.
On the back foot
Ferrari: It was another DNF for Charles Leclerc at Baku last time out. That race, teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. joined him in not collecting any points. The Prancing Horse team has been fast, and Canada should be a circuit that Leclerc and Sainz Jr. dominate. They will need to dominate to prevent Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing from disappearing into the distance.
Running in place
Aston Martin: Sebastian Vettel’s sixth-place finish — along with a 10th at Monaco and 11th at Spain — shows the team has made improvements and seems to have found its level. Now, they just need to get both drivers up and in the mix at the same time, as Lance Stroll has not finished in the points since Miami (a drive to 10th).
Best foot forward
AlphaTauri: This is really about one driver rather than the team, and that driver is Pierre Gasly. With Sergio Perez signing a new contract at Red Bull Racing, Gasly knows a move up to the big team from AlphaTauri is unlikely, and he has put his abilities on show with finishes of 11th at Monaco and fifth at Baku. If Red Bull can’t convince him to stay with the “sister” team, Gasly will likely be a hot commodity this silly season.
Mercedes GP: Despite the difficulties the team endured at Baku, with porpoising once again a big problem, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished 3-4 and may be on the verge of getting into the championship fight for the 2022 season. There’s plenty of racing left on the calendar, and this team (with all its resources) should not be counted out until the final flag has waved.
Red Bull Racing: After the drama at Spain, when Sergio Perez felt disrespected a bit by the team, Perez has won at Monaco and received a new contract, and Verstappen has added a win at Baku to a third-place drive at Monaco. They enter Canada with confidence and harmony, it seems.