The Canadian GP was a revealing one in terms of team competitiveness, with Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton showing the performance of their respective machines.
Aston Martin made a significant step forward with their upgrade package, closing the gap to Red Bull and recovering from a disappointing race weekend in Spain.
Lewis Hamilton was also competitive in Montreal, spending much of his race in a battle with Alonso and – compared to races from earlier this year – slightly closer to Verstappen in his RB19.
Looking at the F1 standings, Alonso and Hamilton are comfortably in 3rd and 4th, enjoying a significant advantage over Sainz, Russell, Leclerc and Stroll in the other top-performing cars.
The two World Champions are now within striking distance of Sergio Perez, having struggled to make use of the RB19’s supreme speed in a sequence of difficult race weekends.
Speaking to the media post-race, Alonso gave a very simple answer when asked if he could finish ahead of the Mexican driver in the Championship:
This response triggered a few wry smiles from Verstappen and Hamilton in the press conference as the Spaniard showed his textbook brand of grit and ambition.
In a more comprehensive response, Alonso explained that he was pleased to give Red Bull a bit more of a headache in the streets of Montreal:
“Very, very. I think it has been a tough race from the beginning, you know, when we lost a place at the start, I thought that maybe that was already gone, P2.
“And I would have to concentrate on the guys behind George and the Ferraris, maybe.
“But then, yeah, we were able to overtake Lewis, and we had a little bit more pace in that part of the race.
“And I was quite OK, until the last 20 or 25 laps, that Lewis was coming very fast, and I had to push again to the limit. So yeah, all in all, it was 70 laps of qualifying.
“So there was no time to rest. And I loved it.”
Canada showed a few glimpses of the possible battles between Verstappen, Alonso and Hamilton that could take place moving forward.
Although the RB19 is a few steps ahead of the rest, further progress from the chasing pack could facilitate closer fighting later in the season.
Ferrari’s pace was also encouraging in Canada, with the SF-23 showing signs of life after a frustrating first seven rounds of 2023.
As ever, the continuous evolution of the Formula 1 development race will dictate which battles are won and lost on the grid.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang