Drivers to get attention at the Canadian Grand Prix

After three years without a Grand Prix in Montreal, you may be wondering which drivers will catch your eye over the weekend? 

I’m introducing ten drivers I think will be one to watch this week.

Note that this is not a ranking of the favorites for the race, but rather ten drivers who, by their history, their situation, their popularity, may make people talk in the stands of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve during the weekend. 

It is also a subjective choice that could vary according to the different points of view since the 20 drivers each have a story that deserves to be told. 

Let’s get started!!

Max Verstappen – Red Bull

Max Verstappen
Photo Credit: redbullracing.com

I begin this countdown with the new world champion, Max Verstappen.

Montreal fans have seen this young driver progress since he arrived in Formula 1 in 2015. Still, it is far from Montreal during the pandemic that Verstappen has transformed himself from a promising hope into a world champion.

While some will question the events surrounding the end of the event in Abu Dhabi last year, the fact remains that overall, Verstappen had an incredible season of the caliber of a world champion. 

The Dutchman seems determined to confuse the skeptics, arriving in Montreal at the top of the world championship with a 21-point lead over his teammate, Sergio Perez.

Verstappen was only on the podium once in Montreal, with a third-place finish in 2018. 

Will he go for his first victory on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve?

Charles Leclerc – Ferrari

Charles Leclerc
Photo Credit: thesportsrush.com

Charles Leclerc has everything to become one of the crowd favorites here in Montreal. 

He is very talented, friendly, charismatic, and French-speaking, and he wears the colors of Ferrari, a team with many fans in Montreal (as everywhere in the world, it must be said). 

His lap in Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari on May 8 marked the 40th anniversary of the Quebecer’s death.

In 2019, Leclerc was still establishing himself in the Scuderia during his time in Montreal while in his first season at Ferrari alongside Sebastian Vettel.

Since then, things have changed a lot. Leclerc now has 4 wins and 17 podiums in Formula 1, and above all, he has become the face and future of Ferrari, which is counting on him to win a first drivers’ title since Kimi Räikkönen in 2007.

After a difficult period in 2020 and 2021, the Reds have an excellent car this season, and Leclerc seemed to be Verstappen’s main opponent. 

But with reliability problems in Spain and Azerbaijan, Leclerc came in third place in Montreal, 34 points behind Verstappen.

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Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton
Photo Credit: marca.com

Indeed, Hamilton doesn’t have a start to the season that lives up to his reputation. The important technical changes in the cars did not smile at Mercedes. 

Team members are relying on the concept of a car without pontoons, a bold idea that has not yet yielded results. 

Mercedes is counting on an unstable car with several problems, and it is undoubtedly the team that has suffered the most from porpoise since the beginning of the season.

We saw a good example last Sunday when he got out of his car with severe back pain.

At the wheel of this car, Hamilton is struggling to do himself justice, and even his new teammate is having a better start to the season.

But, lewis supporters must not lose hope. It is not for nothing that Hamilton has made his place among the greatest drivers in the history of this sport. 

Last year, the Briton was only one lap away from winning his eighth world championship title, despite an excellent season for Verstappen and Red Bull. 

Once Mercedes finds solutions to its problems, don’t be surprised to see Hamilton at the front again.

George Russell – Mercedes

George Russell
Photo Credit: planetf1.com

We’ve been waiting for Russell’s arrival at Mercedes for a while, and Toto Wolff decided to give him a chance. 

And for now, Russell is meeting the expectations that were placed on him.

Despite Mercedes’ problems, the 24-year-old driver is still the only one on the grid to have finished in the top 5 in each event since the start of the season. A non-negligible feat that testifies to Russell’s consistency in 2022.

We couldn’t wait to see how Russell would fare alongside Lewis Hamilton, but the former Williams driver is doing very well, especially with three podiums already in 2022. 

He arrives in Montreal 37 points ahead of the seven-time world champion.

Mercedes has a lot of hope in him, and we seem to have already found the successor in Hamilton when he decides to retire.

Lando Norris – McLaren

Lando Norris
Photo Credit: autosport.com

During his first stint in Montreal in 2019, Norris was the grid’s youngest driver at 19. Three years later, he is still very close to being the youngest, conceding only a few months to Yuki Tsunoda, both 22 years old.

However, Norris has gained a lot of experience in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, amassing six podiums and a leading position for McLaren. 

Lando has become the face of McLaren’s renaissance, which has had good seasons in the middle of the pack after a dark period. That’s why Norris is under contract with the team until 2025.

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The next step for him is, of course, to go for his first victory. He came very close to achieving it in Sochi last year, but the rain ruined his race.

Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo
Photo Credit: sportingnews.com

On the other side of the garage, the situation is much more complex for Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian is in his second season with McLaren and is still struggling to find a steady pace with his new team.

There were certainly some good moves for Ricciardo. How can we forget his victory last year at Monza in a McLaren double? 

The problem is consistency. Ricciardo always seems to need time to adjust to a new car. This was the case in his first year with Renault and his first year with McLaren… and it still seems to be the case with the cars of the new generation of 2022.

Despite everything, Danny Ric enjoys great popularity, especially thanks to Netflix, making him one of the main characters in its series Drive to Survive

This title applies well to his current season since Zak Brown’s patience is beginning to crumble. 

Ricciardo will have to find a way to keep Norris pace if he wants to keep the wheel behind next year. For now, his 15-point haul is far from the 50 units Norris amassed.

Fernando Alonso – Alpine

Fernando Alonso
Photo Credit: thesportsrush.com

In the case of Fernando Alonso, it will be a return after 4 years of absence in the metropolis! 

The Spaniard was not there in 2019, leaving Formula 1 for two seasons to focus on other projects, including the World Endurance Championship.

However, the two-time world champion returned to Formula 1 last year with Alpine. 

He secured a podium in Qatar and a fourth-place finish in Hungary after a spectacular fight with Lewis Hamilton, proving that he had lost nothing of his driving stroke.

At 40, however, one wonders if this year will not be his last lap in Montreal. Alonso, however, has not revealed his plans for the future, who may also want to make room for Oscar Piastri, last year’s F2 champion. 

In short, it is still too early to know if we will see him again next year on Ile Notre-Dame, but if he were to leave Formula 1 for good, it would be a big name in the sport retire.

Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel
Photo Credit: eurosport.com

Speaking of big names in the sport who may be at their last wheels in Montreal, we must also mention this possibility for Sebastian Vettel.

The four-time world champion is in his second season with Aston Martin. 

He amassed a podium in Baku last year, and he almost added a second, but he was disqualified in Hungary as the team could not provide a large enough sample of fuel to the FIA after the race.

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At 34, like Alonso, Vettel could continue in Formula 1 for several years. On the other hand, one wonders if Vettel, in a team that does not get the results to match the ambitions, wants to continue to fight in the middle of the pack. 

Add to that an increasingly busy schedule that takes him away from his family and environmental concerns, and you’ll understand why Vettel admits he’s currently thinking about his future.

Lance Stroll – Aston Martin

Lance Stroll
Photo Credit: formula1.com

Alongside Vettel at Aston Martin, Lance Stroll will finally be able to meet his fans in Montreal.

However, the Quebecer has a difficult start to the season at the wheel of an Aston Martin that is not at the current level. 

Aston Martin brought a new concept of cars to the Spanish Grand Prix with a design similar to the Red Bull… but the results are still pending, at least for Stroll.

Since the beginning of the season, Stroll has scored only two points, thanks to tenth places in Imola and Miami. He reached Q3 only once, in Miami, but he had to start from the pit line.

Stroll will therefore try to score points in Montreal. This will be his fourth appearance on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. 

He finished ninth in 2017 and 2019 and had to retire in 2018 after contacting Brendon Hartley in the first round.

Mick Schumacher – Haas

Mick Schumacher
Photo Credit: formula1.com

Legend of Formula 1 with his seven world titles and a great rival of Jacques Villeneuve, Michaël Schumacher, will have left no one indifferent in Quebec.

That’s why the return of the Schumacher name this year is likely to catch the attention of racing fans in Montreal.

Michael’s son Mick is in his second season in Formula 1, but his debut is mixed. 

If there was nothing to do with last year’s Haas, the American team has designed a more capable car this season, but Schumacher has not been able to take advantage of it to score points. 

He is the only driver with Nicholas Latifi to have no points in 2022.

Schumacher has also been involved in several major accidents this season, starting to irritate his boss Guenther Steiner.

But there is also good for Schumacher. In Miami, a clash with Sebastian Vettel deprived him of points at the end of the race. In Barcelona, he reached Q3 for the first time in his career.

All that remains is to put a point on the board; Montreal could be the perfect place to achieve this.

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