Max Verstappen and Red Bull got back to winning ways where much of the action came down to the impact of Montreal’s track layout and weather.

But problems with the circuit’s infrastructure amid a record crowd arose around the positives.

PLUS: Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2024

There were few of these in any case for Sergio Perez, who’s poor form in the other RB20 continued even with his recent contract extension. Mercedes’ form overall seems to be improving and it left the event with a bittersweet feeling after George Russell took pole, before both Silver Arrows drivers had sloppy race runs and slim victory shot went begging.

Elsewhere, the safety car hurt Lando Norris following its hand in his Miami victory and Yuki Tsunoda followed signing his new RB contract with a gaffe-filled Sunday showing. All of this followed the FIA unveiling its 2026 chassis design plans as the event commenced, which wasn’t exactly greeted with total enthusiasm.

All this and plenty more is covered in in our pick of what we learned at Montreal last weekend.

1 Canada delivers return to brilliant racing…

After the terrible previous two races, the Montreal event was always likely to produce something more scintillating with its overtaking-friendly layout. With plenty of help from the wild weather last weekend, this race was easily the best of the season so far.

Playing a big part in that is how Red Bull has lost much of its previous advantage – particularly at another venue where its (relative) kerb-riding weakness was again exposed.

Sure, Verstappen won yet again – racking up his 60th career GP victory – but that he struggled to pass Russell, got passed himself and then dropped by Norris before the safety car swung the race back to him highlights how close things are now.

Verstappen was excellent when it really mattered – the second restart and his flurry of late personal best laps were key to gapping Norris when the pressure was on.

Norris attempted an overcut on Verstappen having previously bettered the Dutchman on the road

Norris attempted an overcut on Verstappen having previously bettered the Dutchman on the road

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

2 … but Montreal track issues persist

F1 claimed a record 350,000 spectators attended last weekend’s action – up on 345,000 last year. But around this and the weather, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve seemed to creak at the seams.

Police restricting access to the track on Friday and Saturday at a key bridge caused big traffic problems for people trying to enter the paddock, while the parking grass banks across the 1976 Olympics rowing lake entrance were turned into mudbaths. Rain also flooded hospitality units and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali apologised to team bosses for the problems.

Fans also faced a cancelled performance from rapper Pitbull after he failed to show due to a problem with his plane. And spectators entering the track before the cars had returned to the pits post-race earned the promoter a stinging rebuke from the stewards.

Bar a few occasions, the race has been a calendar mainstay since 1978, with Canada’s passionate and plentiful fanbase playing a key role in this. But with this being the latest example of F1 seemingly having outgrown the circuit’s narrow confines and the championship pushing for it to become a back-to-back with Miami, schedule changes may yet be upcoming.

Piastri and Russell enter the circuit. There were access issues across the weekend.

Piastri and Russell enter the circuit. There were access issues across the weekend.

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

3 Perez’s latest poor streak shows no signs of ending

Perez had arrived in Canada with the news of his new Red Bull contract still making headlines. The deal was announced as two years, but actually is a one-plus-one arrangement. With Red Bull likely having performance clause requirements, it means he’ll be once again racing on a year-to-year basis in 2025.

If Perez is enduring yet another awful mid-season slump as he is right now following the same in 2023 after two strong starts, the case for him remaining at a top team for 2026 will be even weaker than it was in 2024.

Another Q1 exit when Verstappen challenged for pole was the start of his terrible Montreal result – both Perez and Christian Horner alluding too, but never fully explaining, a car problem hurting his qualifying potential.

“We had an issue in qualifying that contributed a little to it”, was all Horner would clarify post-race after Perez had two crashes, including a solo off that ended his challenge.

Horner wants Perez to “turn up in Barcelona and bounce back”, but he’ll do so already carrying a grid penalty for rather cynically driving his smashed RB20 back to the pits after his Turn 6 off in a Red Bull-sanctioned bid to avoid activating a safety car while Verstappen was finally clear in the lead. Carlos Sainz’s spin and crash with Alex Albon meant this gambit failed anyway, not that it mattered for the world champion.

Perez endured a nightmare weekend that included two crashes in the race, including this contact with Gasly.

Perez endured a nightmare weekend that included two crashes in the race, including this contact with Gasly.

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

4 Safety car timing luck cost Norris this time

Norris was left to rue the timing of the first safety car costing him a well-built lead ahead of Verstappen and Russell on the first set of intermediates. He’d fallen way behind them early on in the wet start, then, having managed his inters nicely as the track dried, he charged back to and past the leading pair.

When Logan Sargeant crashed out exiting Turn 4, race control took an age to neutralise the race with the safety car. Then when it did, Norris was barely a second from the pit entrance.

He still felt “we didn’t do a good job, I think, as a team to box when we should have done and not get stuck behind the safety car”.

But McLaren team boss Andrea Stella said, “It looks like he was one and a half seconds from the pit, from the time actually where you needed to turn or you go in straight.”

“In hindsight, we could have told the driver ‘in case of safety car pit’,” Stella added. “So, he would have just reacted instinctively to just pit. But we were monitoring the intensity of the rain…”

Norris was nevertheless sanguine about safety car timing fortune swinging the opposite way after his Miami win in May, which had a big chunk of this around the Briton’s brilliance there.

“The safety car had me over,” he said in parc ferme. “Just like it helped me in Miami, it’s now had me back over. So honestly, I thought it was a pretty perfect race from my side. just a bit unlucky but that’s what it is. But it was good fun. These conditions, so stressful inside the car but very enjoyable at the same time.

Norris had been in control until Sargeant triggered the first safety car of the race.

Norris had been in control until Sargeant triggered the first safety car of the race.

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

5 Rivals view Red Bull’s recent developments as a “downgrade

F1 is now two races on from Imola kicking off the European race run the Montreal sojourn is still bafflingly allowed to puncture – considering the sustainability impact of hauling freight back across the Atlantic. Imola was where many teams, including Red Bull, unleashed a major update package – in the world champion squad’s case containing a new floor and front wing.

It has struggled ever since – barely winning ahead of Norris at Imola, being soundly beaten by Ferrari and McLaren in Monaco and now with its Canada advantage from 2023 erased.

The kerb-riding issue is one thing we’ll get too, but Mercedes’ technical director James Allison added a new theory in Canada.

“I guess as soon as there’s a decent range of cornering speeds, they’ll be useful again, but it does look as if their upgrade was a downgrade,” Allison stated. “So, fingers crossed that would really mess them up. [An upgrade not working] makes life hard, because the moment you stop trusting your tools, you have to backtrack, and you lose loads of time. Time is your biggest friend, losing it is your worst enemy.”

Horner hit back with an “even with our downgrade, we managed to beat their upgrade” quip – seemingly inadvertently confirming Allison’s point. But with the RB20’s lineage hating kerbs and bumps too, it’ll surely take a major car redesign to fix. This is why Horner also said, “There is a lot of focus on that to see if we can improve that because we know there are circuits later in the year like Singapore… it could be a factor.”

This refers to the scene of the team’s sole defeat last year and points at more pain to come for Red Bull. Although, like its other 2024 losses, it will surely be just temporary as the team marches on towards more title glory.

Red Bull's downgrade still beat its rivals' upgrades, as Horner was quick to point out.

Red Bull’s downgrade still beat its rivals’ upgrades, as Horner was quick to point out.

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

6 Ferrari hoping Canada calamity was a one-off

Having been the dominant winner last time out in Monaco, Ferrari was the shock lead fight absentee in Canada.

It never got a firm handle on the tyre warm-up factor – always a challenge here, but with new asphalt to contend with this time. Then, expecting rain that never arrived in Q2 meant Ferrari had its drivers run its new tyres when others were on used rubber and so lost out in the track evolution factor that followed – incensing Charles Leclerc.

Starting in the pack exposed its drivers to issues, with Leclerc’s race compromised immediately by an engine issue that cost him around 80bhp and up to 1.5s a lap at times. He reset his engine settings in the pits but was retired later to save milage when a slicks gamble at that safety car one stop backfired. In the other SF-24, Carlos Sainz had a bruising day he ended with his Turn 6 spin and wiping out Alex Albon.

“I think Canada was a bit of a one-off, a bit of a special one and we need to understand what happened as a team,” Sainz was left hoping afterwards. “There was clearly something the others were doing in qualifying with the tyres to prep them better.”

A nightmare weekend saw both Ferrari drivers retire, losing ground to Red Bull and McLaren in the constructors' standings.

A nightmare weekend saw both Ferrari drivers retire, losing ground to Red Bull and McLaren in the constructors’ standings.

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

7 Mercedes makes progress around new front wing update

Russell claimed Mercedes’ first pole since Hungary last year – and his second in F1 – by nailing the tyre warm-up challenge on used softs at the start of Q3. He was then in the victory battle with Verstappen during the early stages, before he slid backwards down the podium fight and mounting errors proved costly.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was left with a bittersweet feeling as he feels his team has “taken the right steps recently and brought updates that are working well”, but he rued how “we certainly could have taken one or two more positions and then maybe have fought for victory”.

Much of Mercedes’ recent progress is down to its new front wing concept that was introduced in Monaco and concerns the murky business of aero elasticity. Allison says the new wing takes away “the aerodynamic unhappiness that that mechanical balance [changes Mercedes was previously making with extreme set-up changes] is fighting, then you can have a less extreme mechanical balance migration in a car that feels more consistent and predictable to the driver”.

Tantalisingly for Mercedes’ fans, Allison also reckons “you just don’t get the maximum amount of benefit [in Montreal] compared with a track with a wider range of cornering speeds”. He therefore hopes the new wing is “more helpful at future tracks”.

Mercedes' latest front wing was seemingly a good step forward as it finished third and fourth.

Mercedes’ latest front wing was seemingly a good step forward as it finished third and fourth.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

8 Tsunoda staying with RB for 2025 makes life easier for others

Between FP3 and qualifying in Canada, RB announced that Tsunoda would be staying with the team post-2024. The Japanese driver has earned a contract extension covering 2025 following Red Bull deciding to keep Perez.

“I’m very happy to be staying with RB and it’s a good feeling to have my future decided so early in the year,” Tsunoda said. “For that, I want to thank everyone at Red Bull and Honda who have played such an important role in my career and will continue to do so.”

Tsunoda staying put – always the most likely outcome for the 24-year-old given Fernando Alonso resigned with Aston Martin ahead of its Honda engine switch in 2026 – eases the driver market for others still without deals.

Staying at RB and Daniel Ricciardo unlikely to go elsewhere means Liam Lawson is still without an F1 drive, with RB his best chance of a full-time deal in any case. Therefore, others hoping for the free seats at Haas, Williams, Alpine and Sauber don’t have Tsunoda bumping into that queuing and Lawson snapping up his current seat – as harsh as that is also for Lawson. He appears to lack the momentum currently gearing others to the remaining open slots.

Tsunoda's continuation with RB has settled the driver market.

Tsunoda’s continuation with RB has settled the driver market.

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

9 How the 2026 F1 cars will look and act…

Ahead of last weekend’s event really kicking off, the FIA outlined the key details of what it is pitching as a ‘nimble’ car concept that will be implemented alongside the new engines and mandatory use of fully sustainable fuel coming for 2026.

The cars will be narrower and shorter, with a dedicated focus on the front wings ideally not producing the outwash aero effect that kills racing for following machines. The tyres will shrink slightly, with the chassis also aimed at being 30kg light and with car downforce levels slashed. DRS will be replaced by a dual state active aero system and a manual override engine mode. New safety structures will be developed to add strength but not weight.

“With this set of regulations, the FIA has sought to develop a new generation of cars that are fully in touch with the DNA of Formula 1,” said FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis.

“Cars that are light, supremely fast and agile but which also remain at the cutting edge of technology, and to achieve this we worked towards what we called a ‘nimble car’ concept.”

The 2026 regulation announcement led to plenty of debate across the weekend.

The 2026 regulation announcement led to plenty of debate across the weekend.

Photo by: FIA

10 … but the teams and drivers aren’t happy with the current plans

The teams are already deep into preparing for the new rules, which aren’t still fully firmed up until they’re ratified by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council later this month. Several drivers have already driven simulated versions of the 2026 cars.

The teams fear the new cars will not be “fast enough in the corners”, per Stella. There are even concerns Formula 2 cars will be able to corner quicker with the current 2026 expectations. Then, with the X-mode active aero shedding drag on straights from the standard high-downforce Z-mode chassis configuration, Russell said fears the cars are “going to be exceptionally quick in the straights, 360km/h probably at most tracks, which is pretty impressive”.

“Obviously then the safety needs to be probably improved,” he added, “because having a crash at 360, 370km/h is going to be pretty crazy.”

Tombazis said of these concerns: “The World Council discussion and hopefully approval is the first step. We are not in the final set of regulations yet and we do have quite a few things that we need to find and discuss with the teams. We are equally conscious of some of the concerns regarding downforce with the cars or straightline speed, and these are things that we class as refinements that still need to take place.

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He also conceded the teams’ fears “are accurate”. But of this he added: “because people are taking a snapshot of what the regulations are on a piece of paper now, and are making comments on the basis of what they see.”

The teams also fear the rules are too prescriptive to allow them to unlock innovation through aero design. When they successfully lobbied to get the current rules slightly relaxed in certain areas, it unleashed Red Bull’s current dominant streak. One team nailing a rules era switch is just very F1. But that stands as a warning when the field is as close as it has appeared of late.

“You’re not going to have days like the last few weeks probably in 2026, 2027, 2028, or pretty much like 2028, 2029,” concluded Norris. “It’s how it’s always been…”

Will the new rules allow for another Verstappen-Red Bull-esque era?

Will the new rules allow for another Verstappen-Red Bull-esque era?

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images