The Formula One World Championship returned to the city of Montreal and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix, with the weekend seeing both good and bad fortunes for Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon as well as difficulties for Zhou Guanyu. Asian Motorsport reviews all the action from the Île-Notre Dame. 

By Seb Tirado

Free Practice

FP1 would see a mix of wet and dry conditions as the rain fell, with Zhou causing a short red flag just over half an hour into the session as he slid on a wet patch in T5 and hit the outside barrier, breaking his front suspension. Both he and Albon would only do 4 laps in the session and not set a time. Yuki Tsunoda would finish up in 12th with a 1:28.723 on the intermediate tyres.

Albon would put in a competitive lap time in FP2, finishing an improved 9th with a 1:16.977 whilst also having a close shave with the Wall of Champions during the session. Tsunoda would finish just ahead of the Thai driver in 8th with a 1:16.951 and Zhou would finish down in 17th with a 1:19.087.

Zhou Guanyu on track during FP2 | Credit: Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

FP3 would see Zhou once again cause a brief red flag as he spun exiting T1 at the start of the session, hitting the outside barriers of T2 backwards. He would classify in 20th with a 1:18.656 after again only completing 4 laps. Albon would finish down in 18th with a 1:13.880, again coming to blows with the Wall of Champions. Tsunoda would finish in 15th with a 1:13.716.

Qualifying

A difficult Q1 for Zhou would see him eliminated from qualifying in 20th, over nine-tenths of a second behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas. The two Kick Saubers would ultimately have to start from the pit lane after changing their rear wings. At the other sharp end of the field, Tsunoda would progress through in a very impressive 2nd with a 1:12.748, as would Albon in 4th with a 1:12.896, who pushed Sergio Pérez out in the top 15 in the process.

Yuki Tsunoda on track during qualifying | Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Albon and Tsunoda’s strong pace would continue in Q2 as they progressed through to the final stage of qualifying in 6th and 4th respectively with faster times of a 1:12.485 and a 1:12.303.

Albon would ultimately qualify in 10th with a 1:12.796 behind Tsunoda in 8th with a 1:12.414.

Canadian Grand Prix

Tsunoda and Albon would struggle off the line on their intermediates as the wet track made it a difficult first few laps, with the two ending up in 12th and 13th respectively by the end of Lap 2. However, the sun would quickly come out and a dry line would slowly start to appear as the laps went on.

Tsunoda would move back up to 11th as Kevin Magnussen ended his gamble on the full wets and pitted for intermediates on Lap 8. The Japanese driver would then return to the top 10 on Lap 12 as Nico Hülkenberg on full wets also pitted. Albon would also move up closer to the top 10, ultimately swapping positions with Tsunoda on Lap 20.

The pair would soon after overtake a struggling Charles Leclerc, with Albon passing him on Lap 21 and Tsunoda following through on Lap 22. The Safety Car would then come out for Albon’s teammate Logan Sargeant on Lap 25 after he crashed out of the race after T4. Zhou would come in at the end of the lap for new intermediates, with Albon pitting for his own new set at the end of Lap 26.

Zhou Guanyu passing the stricken Williams of Logan Sargeant | Credit: Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

As Tsunoda didn’t elect to pit during the Safety Car, he would cycle up to 7th when the race restarted at the end of Lap 29 and would defensively maintain his position. Elsewhere, Albon would perform a very opportunistic double overtake on Tsunoda’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon as the trio went down the back straight and into the final chicane, with Albon moving up to 9th.

As the track continued to dry, many drivers decided to go into slick tyres at the end of Lap 43. Zhou would cycle up to 12th after electing to not pit and Albon and Tsunoda would shortly come in at the end of Lap 44 for a set of new mediums, emerging back out in 10th and 7th. Zhou would then come in a lap later for his own set of new mediums, emerging back out in 18th and almost a lap down.

Yuki Tsunoda on slick tyres | Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Carlos Sainz would overtake Albon on Lap 54, pushing the Thai driver out of the points. However, Sainz would spin soon after coming out of T6, collecting Albon in the process and taking them both out of the race with terminal damage. The second Safety Car of the race would come out for the incident and Zhou would pit for another set of new mediums, going a lap down to the rest of the field.

The race would restart on Lap 58, with Tsunoda once again defending his position after being overtaken by Lance Stroll before the Safety Car and heading down to 8th. Tsunoda would this time defend against Ocon, who would ultimately get past the Japanese driver down the back straight on Lap 61, dropping him to closer to the fringes of the points and ahead of his teammate Ricciardo.

On Lap 66, Tsunoda would lock-up going into T8 as he chased Ocon, spinning across the wet grass and across the track, narrowly avoiding Hülkenberg. The moment would drop Tsunoda to his final finishing position of 14th and the last of those running on the lead lap. Zhou would finish in 15th and a lap down on the rest of the field after what he said had “proven to be another tough race for us, on top of what has overall been a challenging weekend.” 

Also commenting after the race, Tsunoda said that “today was my mistake, a stupid move, and I’m sorry to the team. They definitely made the right decision about strategy and did a good job; it wasn’t easy on the old Inters but I was feeling okay. Also, the call when to change to dry tyres was good. At least I turned it around from Free Practice to qualifying and that’s good, but today’s disappointing and not the way I should’ve finished the race.”

Albon similarly said that it was “a disappointing end to our race today. Points were definitely on the table and the car felt good on all compounds in the changing conditions. We didn’t take any unnecessary risks and the race plan was well-executed by the team. It was a battle of survival, which was always going to be the case considering the weather, and we ended up getting caught in other people’s errors. That’s racing and I don’t think I could’ve done anything differently.”

Formula One Drivers’ Championship Top 10

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 194
  2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 138
  3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 131
  4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 108
  5. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) – 107
  6. Oscar Piastri (McLaren) – 81
  7. George Russell (Mercedes) – 69
  8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 55
  9. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – 41
  10. Yuki Tsunoda (RB) – 19

Formula One Constructors’ Championship Top 5

  1. Red Bull Racing – 301
  2. Scuderia Ferrari – 252
  3. McLaren – 212
  4. Mercedes-AMG – 124
  5. Aston Martin – 58

The European leg of the 2024 Formula One World Championship continues at the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.

Header image credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

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