Formula 1

2024 Canadian Grand Prix: What the Teams are Saying ahead of the Weekend

11 Mins read
Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 1 returns this weekend for the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix after a thrilling few weeks that has seen Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing’s grip on both Championships fall away slightly. 

The Canadian Grand Prix is known for it’s exciting races and has thrilled fans for decades. Held on the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, the track unique layout – part street circuit, part permanent facility – pushes drivers and their cars to the limit. The tight corners and long straights create plenty of opportunity for overtakes, while the notorious “Wall of Champions” will be a section to look out for as the drivers look for speed coming out of the slow speed chicane. The circuit has a combination of high-speed sections and technical challenges that make the Canadian Grand Prix a favourite amongst drivers and fans, producing dramatic moments and outcomes.

The teams have been giving their thoughts ahead of the Grand Prix, have a read below, starting with the leading constructor, Red Bull!

Max Verstappen — Oracle Red Bull Racing — WDC 1st

“Following a more difficult weekend in Monaco, this week I have been with the Team back at the factory and in the sim preparing for the Canadian Grand Prix. The track there is very unique, has some old school kerbs and there are plenty more opportunities for overtaking. 

“It is even more important to have a good set up of the car and find a balance between the straight line speeds as well as good stability under the braking. It is always good to be back racing in Montreal; the scenery is one of a kind, the atmosphere in the city is great and the fans are very passionate. 

“Finally, it is great news that Checo has signed with the Team until 2026 and I am glad to be able to continue with the successful partnership that we have created over the past few years. We achieved a record-breaking season last year and the Team is very strong, so we are looking forward to building on this success into the next two years as well.”

Sergio Pérez — Oracle Red Bull Racing — WDC 5th

“I am happy to be coming to Canada knowing I am staying with Oracle Red Bull Racing. It feels incredible to be trusted by the Team to continue with them until 2026 and I am grateful for the confidence everyone has put in me. 

“I know we have a lot of work to do in the coming seasons but, more importantly, in the short-term. We need to get back to the standards we were setting before Imola and get the car in a better window to perform on both Saturday and Sundays. While the race was a disaster in Monaco, we were in the wrong grid position due to a poor qualifying and we need to solve that in Montreal. 

“The Team and I want to be starting at the front of the grid come race day and the aim is to make our lives a lot simpler this weekend.”

Fred Vasseur — Scuderia Ferrari — WCC 2nd (WDC: LEC 2nd, SAI 4th)

“Earlier this season, we went to Japan on a wave of enthusiasm following Carlos’ win in Australia and now we have that same feeling in Canada off the back of Charles’ triumph in his home race in Monaco. Everyone is pumped and prepared to the maximum for this Grand Prix. 

“The Montreal track is very different to the one in the Principality, even if there are still some slow corners. But in general, it’s much faster, requires less aerodynamic downforce and there are more opportunities for overtaking. 

“That doesn’t mean our approach to the weekend will change in any way. We are moving in the right direction on the technical front, on our strategy calls from the pit wall and in terms of how the team is working as one. 

“Thanks to a lot of hard work, we have managed to further close the gap to the team leading both championships, but the gaps between us, McLaren and Red Bull are very close and so the slightest little detail can make the difference.”

Lando Norris — McLaren F1 Team — WDC 3rd

“Canada up next! I enjoy racing in Montréal, it’s a fun track with some challenging sections which make it more exciting. Our car has performed well at a few different types of circuits, but we know we might have our work cut out in Canada. Our competitors are likely to be strong here.

“It was nice to have a week off after the Imola-Monaco double header. We walked away with two podiums, and a lot of points for the team. I’ve had productive sessions with my engineers back in the MTC, and now I’m excited to see what we can do this weekend.”

Oscar Piastri — McLaren F1 Team — WDC 6th

“Monaco was special. I felt it on all three days and getting a podium in Senna colours around those streets was sensational. As a young boy back in Australia, Monaco was one that I would dream about and so, it’s nice to collect some silverware from one of the classics.

“I’ve been happy with where my driving is at the moment, especially the consistency that I’ve shown across the last three events. Progress is never linear but I’m enjoying showing what I can do and driving this car, which the team have done such a strong job with.

“Hopefully in Canada, we can pick up where we left off because it’s so tight at the sharp end of the grid and we want more.”

Toto Wolff — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — WCC 4th (WDC: RUS 7th, HAM 8th)

“We had an encouraging weekend in Monaco. We continued to make solid progress with our car, improving its overall balance and taking a step closer to those ahead. That progress isn’t yet showing in terms of positions but if we can continue to close the gap to the fastest cars, we know it will in due course. 

“Both drivers will have the updated front wing in Canada, plus some other development items for this event. It offered a small lap time gain around the tight streets of the Principality and should offer greater benefit on upcoming circuits. That said, the picture at the front of the field is incredibly competitive. 

“The field has compressed, and we are under no illusions that others will continue to improve. We will have to continue to work hard and diligently to get ourselves into the mix. 

“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a brilliant track. It offers a mix of low-speed corners and high-speed straights which makes for great racing. We always enjoy returning to Montreal as the fans are incredibly passionate about F1. We’ve enjoyed many good moments there over the years and hopefully we can add to those this weekend.”

Lance Stroll — Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team — WDC 11th

“The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the races I most look forward to. It’s always special to be able to compete here at home.

“There’s nothing quite like the support I get from Canadian fans. There’s always this buzz and energy in the air that pushes me to give my all on track. It’s such an incredible feeling.

“I used to sit in the grandstands here when I was five or six years old, and I first began karting in Montréal – not too far from the circuit – so whenever I’m here it hits home just how far I’ve come. To now be racing here in Formula One… it’s a feeling like no other.”

“I’m super proud to be racing here as a Canadian and to be surrounded by my family and friends. This is also something of a home race for the Aston Martin Aramco team now. It’s great to see everybody embrace my home city.

“I love spending time in Canada, whether that’s skiing in the mountains of Revelstoke or spending evenings on the water in Mont-Tremblant. It’s a real honour to represent such an amazing country.”

“I get a real thrill from driving around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the calendar. I love the combination of the high-speed straights and tight chicanes and more technical corners. It’s a track that keeps you on your toes, which I love, and seeing all the Canadian flags in the stands only adds to the atmosphere.”

Photo: Aston Martin F1 Team

Yuki Tsunoda — Visa Cash App RB — WDC 10th

“I’m looking forward to Canada, first of all, because I love Montréal itself. I’m spending a couple of days here with some friends before the race. As much as I like the track, I’ve never scored points here, so that is definitely my number one goal for this weekend. 

“Two weeks ago, I managed to score points in Monaco for the first time, so I’d like to tick off another circuit where I haven’t scored yet. The team is working really well at the moment, it’s coming together well so we just need to keep focusing on ourselves and push hard for Q3 on Saturday and more points on Sunday.”

Daniel Ricciardo — Visa Cash App RB – WDC 14th

“I love Montréal, the place, the track and I’m really excited to go back there. It has some special memories; this year will be ten years since my very first Formula 1 win at this track. 

“Of course, I missed the race last year so I’m more than ready to have a good weekend and get some more points on the board. Maple Syrup, Poutine and some good times!”

Nico Hülkenberg — MoneyGram Haas F1 Team — WDC 13th

“I love Montreal and it’s probably my favorite track on the calendar. I love where it is on the little island, the drive into the circuit in the morning, and the atmosphere in Montreal. It gets me every year and I just really enjoy it here. 

“The circuit has a very cool flow, even though it’s pretty flat – it doesn’t have elevation changes – but the rhythm of the track is very unique and hits the spot for me. Last year was very positive, especially the Saturday, as Sunday we just weren’t competitive and slipped back. 

“I look forward to hitting the track and this year we’re in a much better position and we should be able to translate a good qualifying into a race result.”

Kevin Magnussen — MoneyGram Haas F1 Team — WDC 17th

“Montreal is another great track and another classic I’d say, although it doesn’t have the history of Monaco or Monza, for example. It’s definitely a driver’s track as well, flying over the kerbs and braking late into the chicanes. 

“It’s great racing there with good opportunities for overtaking, and overall, it’s just a great place to go. The city is awesome, the food, hotels, and the fans – I’ve got nothing bad to say! I don’t think I’ve ever had a fantastic weekend there yet though, so I’m aiming for that this season.”

Alex Albon — Williams Racing — WDC 15th

“As we head to Canada this week, the team and I have fond memories from last year’s P7, with our first big points-scoring race of the season. I’m interested to see how the FW46 performs around this circuit, which always brings chances for good racing and overtaking. 

“The weather will play a factor in the opportunities that could arise, so hopefully as a team, we can maximise on this. Montreal is one of my favourite cities and I’m looking forward to heading back.”

Logan Sargeant — Williams Racing — WDC 21st

“I’m really looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix. The track in Montreal is one of the best on the calendar with its combination of fast straights and tight corners that creates a good flow for racing. 

“This event is known for its unpredictable weather conditions, which can create some exciting opportunities. Hopefully we can have a positive weekend as a team.”

Esteban Ocon — BWT Alpine F1 Team — WDC 16th

“A lot has been said in recent days, so I am very much looking forward to driving again and getting back out on track. My focus and energy is fully dedicated to the team and maximising our results on track, starting already this weekend in Canada. 

“The pace we showed in Monaco was positive, particularly in Qualifying trim where we had the opportunity to get both cars into Q3. As a team, we have been making steady progress over the course of the season. 

“Despite the circuit characteristics being quite different, hopefully we can carry momentum into Montréal and show similar speed as we did in Monaco. The field is extremely close at the moment, so extracting every bit of performance counts. 

“Montréal is an event I really enjoy returning to each year. The fans are incredible, the track is fun to drive, and the city really embraces the event. The city centre has a festival atmosphere and also a French flavour alongside it! The fans always come out in huge numbers whatever the weather, which as we have seen in the past can be quite unpredictable. 

“From the latest weather forecast, we could be in for more of the same this weekend. Straight-line speed is important in Montréal, as is stability under braking and riding the kerbs. Also, the track can be quite bumpy in certain places, so it will be interesting to see how the car behaves with the new asphalt.”

Pierre Gasly — BWT Alpine F1 Team — WDC 18th

“It felt a long time coming, but it was good to score my first point of the season in Monaco. The performance felt much more together than in previous races. We did not begin in such a positive state but we made strong improvements between Friday and Saturday, which made us quick enough to be in Q3. 

“While that was pleasing in itself, as it was our first Q3 visit of the year, it was definitely a missed opportunity as we had the pace and I had the confidence in the car to be higher up on the grid. Even so, tenth is where we ended up and that’s where we ended the race. A point is a good reward but we must keep pushing for more. 

“Next up is Canada. It’s always an interesting place to race as it’s a non-permanent circuit, which brings some interesting challenges throughout. We are expecting a much smoother layout since the track has been resurfaced but that might also mean grip is low especially on Friday Practice day. In the last two seasons, we have seen a wet Qualifying. 

“We will have to be aware on the variety in conditions we might see throughout the weekend in Montréal and be ready for anything. Right now, though, I am pleased with the progress in recent weeks and we must aim to continue that with positive on track performances.”

Jack Doohan — BWT Alpine F1 Team — Reserve Driver (Replacing Ocon in FP1)

“Really excited to get out on track in Montréal for FP1. It will be my first time driving at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, which I am looking forward to. I am grateful to the team for the opportunity to get more track time, and also familiarise myself with 2024 machinery early in the season. 

“This will also help with the work I am doing in the simulator, particularly at the European rounds. My focus will be on doing the best for the team and maximising the session for both drivers, looking at certain test items and understanding the new track surface.”

Zhou Guanyu — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — WDC 19th

“We knew we had work ahead of us after Monaco, and that’s what the team did: we regrouped and worked together to give ourselves the best chance to turn our fortunes around this season. Even though we are yet to score points, our motivation isn’t gone, quite the opposite: we are determined to make a change to how this season is unfolding and get back where we want to be. 

“I am looking forward to racing in Montreal this weekend, with the city turning into a true Formula One festival, and the fans giving us an extra boost from the grandstands. 

“We know how just a hundredth of a second could make a big difference in qualifying, where we need to make the biggest gains: we must keep focused and deliver at the top of our game all weekend long, aiming for the top ten.”

Valtteri Bottas — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — WDC 20th

“It’s good to be back in Canada – it’s a place that usually produces good racing and it’s quite fun from inside the cockpit, too. It’s one of the classic races on the calendar, and I like the challenges of a track that hasn’t changed much since it was built. 

“I’m looking forward to getting started with the weekend ahead. There’s no denying that things haven’t gone well recently, but the team is motivated, and we used the days after our return from Monaco to analyse what didn’t quite work out and how to improve from there. 

“We scored points in the two most recent outings in Montreal, and it would be nice to get back at it right here. Our goal, as usual, is the same: to be at the top of our performance from Friday onwards, and qualify in favourable spots on the grid, ready to battle it out on Sunday.”

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