Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Battle Behind The Red Bulls – Who Comes Out on Top?

Oracle Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen are seemingly running away with both FIA Formula 1 World Championships and even as early as the Canadian Grand Prix, many are already claiming that the title races are over.

However, what many won’t realise is the exciting and enticing battles happening behind the Bulls, between Scuderia Ferrari, Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. Fernando Alonso has been on top form this season, scoring five podiums this season in seven races, which is an incredible achievement for the Spaniard, who only joined Aston Martin at the start of this season.

Many have overlooked the performances of Lewis Hamilton this season, although the seven-time World Champion isn’t where he’d want to be, fighting for wins at the front, he is driving extremely well and has outdrove his W14 in multiple races this season. The Briton impressed at the Spanish Grand Prix, finishing in second place after starting fifth. George Russell has also been going under the radar too and helped Mercedes secure their first double podium of the season last time out in Spain, despite starting twelfth on the grid. Ferrari have underperformed so far this season, but Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. still have so much to offer, and this weekend will be a chance for the pair to get back into form.

Canada will be an interesting race for all three teams, but the question is who comes out on top?

Aston Martin

Aston Martin have had an incredible start to the season, that not many would have even dreamt of. Despite that though, in the previous race in Spain, Aston Martin’s outstanding start to the season experienced a setback as Alonso and Lance Stroll finished in seventh and sixth place, respectively, without being able to contend for a podium position, and really lacking the pace that everyone expected them to have.

As a consequence, Aston Martin slipped behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship. However, the team is introducing fresh updates to the AMR23 for the upcoming race, and Team Principal Mike Krack is anticipating a noticeable improvement in performance, which could potentially see Aston Martin move closer to Red Bull and away from Mercedes and Ferrari.

Stroll will be aiming to score a podium at his home race, which would end a 27-year wait for a Canadian to finish on the podium in the Canadian Grand Prix since Jacques Villeneuve finished second in 1996 behind Damon Hill.

The new updates on the AMR23 could be a massive turning point in what already is a remarkable season for Aston Martin, and Canada could be the perfect time for them to try and move ahead of Mercedes and potentially even challenge Red Bull.

Ferrari

There is no other way to put it, Ferrari have found themselves underperforming this season, a lack of race pace has really cost them and errors by both drivers have seen them drop all the way to fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.

In Baku, which is a similar circuit to the one that will host the race this weekend in Montreal, with its lengthy straights and significant braking zones, the lone podium of the season was achieved by Leclerc. However, despite scoring that podium, Leclerc has not finished above sixth place in any other race and currently holds just forty-two points in the Drivers’ Championship, which is a major dip compared to the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, where he went into the weekend fighting for the Championship with Verstappen.

The 2022 Canadian Grand Prix saw Ferrari have a successful weekend, with Sainz securing second place and Leclerc impressively climbing up to fifth from a starting point of 19th due to engine penalties.

Building upon last year’s performance and the improved consistency upgrades introduced to the SF23 in Spain, Ferrari could have a favourable weekend but their race pace issues still seem to be lurking and unfortunately, they may come out behind Aston Martin and Mercedes this weekend.

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Mercedes

In the recent Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes experienced a significant improvement in performance on the track, thanks to their updated W14 and their new sidepod concept, which was first introduced for the Monaco Grand Prix a few weeks back. The updates saw Mercedes have their best weekend of the season in Spain, but it may not be as easy-going this time out.

Both Hamilton and his teammate Russell achieved podium finishes, with Russell impressively getting through the field after starting 12th on the grid. They both praised the car, stating that it felt superior to anything they had driven under F1’s new technical regulations, which came into effect at the start of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Now, the question arises about Mercedes’ progress, what placed them ahead of Aston Martin and Ferrari in Spain? Was it based on raw performance and pace or was it specific to the characteristics of the track? It will be an interesting weekend to find out, with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve presenting a striking contrast to the high-speed Barcelona track. It features numerous chicanes, substantial braking zones, and certain areas with bumpy surfaces, something that Mercedes have struggled with over the past eighteen months.

Key Mercedes figures such as Toto Wolff have stated that they might have a difficult weekend, but the experienced team principal could just be lowering the expectations, as he has done numerous times before.

Who Will Come Out on Top?

It’s extremely hard to say at this stage who will come out on top. Mercedes performed really well in Spain but could struggle with the track characteristics, while Aston Martin are set to debut their new upgrade package on the AMR23 this weekend, and Ferrari shouldn’t be counted out either.

Mercedes will certainly be the favourites to finish behind the Red Bull’s in the Canadian Grand Prix, but it isn’t certain and there will be an interesting battle to watch unfold throughout what will hopefully be an exciting weekend of action.

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