Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton
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Red Bull head into Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix hoping to win in Montreal for the first time since 2019, but title protagonists Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc could break a peculiar record with a pole position. Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has claimed victory in four of the past five editions of the race, with no Canadian GP held in 2020 or 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s not just the win Verstappen and Sergio Perez will be concerned with, however, as they look to improve their standings positions at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. F1 titleholder Verstappen currently leads second-place Perez, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is 34 points off the pace in third.
As it happens, any among that trio would be breaking with recent tradition if they manage to capture pole in Canada. That’s because Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg are the only drivers to do so in Montreal since 2007.
Vettel was still at Ferrari when he grabbed back-to-back poles in 2018 and 2019, a few years after he won three straight between 2011 and 2013. Hamilton made it three in a row himself (2015-17) and has claimed six Canadian poles in his career, while former Mercedes colleague Rosberg finished fastest in 2014.
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Barring the most unexpected of comebacks, retired Rosberg won’t be back in time to prevent extending the current streak. Neither will Hamilton nor Vettel, either, if their respective form with Mercedes and Aston Martin so far this year is anything to go by.
Leclerc has underlined the short-term potential of Ferrari’s F1-75 by snapping up pole at each of the past four race weekends (six from eight races so far this season). Converting that promise into points has proved problematic of late, however, with the Monegasque failing to finish two of the last three races.
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Team-mate Carlos Sainz also retired from Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in what was a nightmare outing for Ferrari. With the F1 lead slipping further out of grasp, the Scuderia team are under pressure to enjoy a smooth start in Montreal.
The mould is there to be broken for the likes of Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc. However, opportunity has also presented itself for an outsider to pick up pole, such as McLaren’s Lando Norris, who recorded the fastest lap at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix.
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