Battle of the OAPs is F1's real entertainment – Up/down in Canada


It might be time for an F1 'Division 2' category as we revel in the golden age of Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2023 Canadian GP Montreal

Battle for the Pirelli P2 Award (pensioners x 2) rages on

Grand Prix Photo

While the lead Aramco Martin and Ineos-Benz cars fought it out round Île Notre-Dame Circuit, Max Verstappen really was in an F1 Super League of his own.

Is it time to admit defeat and let the Dutchman win his championship of one? To be fair, he’s already won it.

Ultimately, Battle of the OAPs – which was the real show – behind the Red Bull saw Fernando Alonso win out this time, but how long before Lewis Hamilton strikes back with his Petronas-powered zimmerframe?

The world’s fastest slow Williams, a McLaren apparently not playing by the rules and Ferrari’s joy at fourth and fifth were other plotlines crucial to the Montreal circuit – just be glad we didn’t put Gary the Groundhog in the title (this time).


Goin’ Down

World’s fastest wooden spoon

Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell 1987

No doubt Alonso and Hamilton are taking inspiration from Jonathan Palmer and his Tyrrell DG016, naturally (aspirated)

Grand Prix Photo

The Jim Clark trophy was originally designated in 1987 for naturally aspirated entrants to the world championship, essentially in recognition of the fact they had no hope against the turbo monsters and were basically in a race of their own.

From the archive

With the nomenclature perhaps originating from the Scottish legend’s first title in 1963, when he won seven out of ten races and too was essentially in a class of his own, it might be pertinent to bring back the award this season for every non-Max Verstappen competitor?

Alonso and Hamilton are trying desperately to bring the excitement, with the Spaniard just behind Red Bull’s other driver – remember him? – and the Merc not much further back.

If Verstappen wasn’t in this championship, it would actually be all right.


Perez peters out

Sergio Perez Red Bull 2023 Canadian GP Montreal

Perez probably dreaming of the safe confines of Force India and its cuddly boss Vijay Mallya right now

Red Bull

Speaking of Sergio Perez, some of the blame of this year’s championship representing a ‘Heineken 0% excitement’ tumbleweed lies at his door.

The Mexican simply has no answer for Verstappen, actually often even struggling to get this year’s by-far fastest car into second place.

You long for Milton Keynes to pick the modern equivalent of a driver like Nico Rosberg or Nelson Piquet to take on Verstappen – a pilot perhaps not quite as fast as the reigning champion, but someone who could really rattle his cage as they shared the fastest car.


Unsportsmanlike stewards 

Lando Norris McLaren 2023 Canadian GP Montreal

The very unsportsmanlike Lando Norris


Lando Norris’s 5sec penalty – for driving too slowly under the safety car to try and create a gap when double-stacking with team-mate Oscar Piastri – appeared draconian at best when looking at other drivers’ actions in recent years.

Some heroic racing later on went unrewarded, then, allowing him to risk his life in vain for much of the race – classic F1.


Wall of shame

x Sergio Perez Red Bull 2023 Canadian GP Montreal

Iconic F1 views – brought to you by Pirelli


The extended pitwall exit – luridly branded with Pirelli banners, naturally – ruined one of F1’s best views in the run down to Montreal’s first corner. Rubbish.


Haas’s not so racey pace

Nico Hulkenberg Haas2023 Canadian GP Montreal

Haas going nowhere fast (unless you count going backwards as going somewhere)


Continuing the veteran theme this year, Nico Hülkenberg has been qualifying the Haas brilliantly this year on his return, taking second in Canada before a penalty dropped him to fifth.

He continued to fall down the order in the GP itself though, finishing a miserable 15th. Race pace needs to be addressed, it seems.


Goin’ Up


Alex Albon Williams 2023 Canadian GP Montreal

Albon emulated such Williams greats such as Alex Zanardi, Kazuki Nakajima and Bruno Senna with his seventh place finish


Logan Sargeant’s struggles with this year’s Williams shows you just how well Alex Albon has been driving. A brilliant P7 was what he richly deserved after holding four cars at bay in the race’s closing stages.


Sad goodbye

Things are getting emotional down at AlphaTauri.


Playing an ace (kind of)

2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 2023 Canadian GP Montreal

Fourth and fifth, the stuff Fred Vasseur’s dreams are made of (when he was at Sauber)


Ferrari strategists took some Le Mans inspiration by actually getting it right for once, putting Leclerc and Sainz up to fourth and fifth respectively from poor grid positions.