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Will Red Bull win for the sixth race in a row? Can Leclerc finally convert pole into victory? And what are Hamilton’s chances of an eighth win in Montreal? Here’s who to look out for in the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix! Nicky Haldenby covers all the main talking points.

A welcome return to Canada

Situated on the Notre Dame Island and named after a motorsport legend, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is set to play host to the Canadian Grand Prix for the first time since 2019. Pre-pandemic, the race was one of the best-attended of the year – and all eyes will be on the 20 drivers with another sell-out crowd expected.

The track has been the scene of memorable maiden wins for Robert Kubica, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo and hosted a four-hour rain-hit epic in 2011, which saw Jenson Button claim victory on the final lap. Talking of rain, the forecast is currently unsettled for the weekend – so we could see some more wet weather heroics in 2022.

In the early 2000s, the track produced a string of action-packed races, with podium finishes being recorded from right across the grid. The Grands Prix have been more processional so far in the V6 hybrid era, however, with the polesitter having crossed the line first in all of the last five Montreal races.

A mountain to climb for Ferrari

At the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, for the second time in the past three races, Charles Leclerc retired from the race while leading. Sunday in Baku was far from a happy day for Ferrari. Carlos Sainz also retired from the race, with the Scuderia recording their first double retirement in almost two years.

The season began with questions over Red Bull’s reliability, but the focus has now shifted to that of Ferrari. There were four non-classified drivers in total in Azerbaijan, all of whom were Ferrari-powered, retiring with technical issues.

The better news for Ferrari is that they have crossed the line first in each of the last two Canadian Grands Prix. Sebastian Vettel was victorious in 2018 and, while he crossed the line first again one year later, a controversial five-second penalty saw the win handed to Lewis Hamilton.

Leclerc will be looking to avoid an unwanted record this weekend. He has taken pole at all of the last four races but failed to convert any of them into a win. If he takes pole and fails to win again this weekend, it would be only the third time that a driver has failed to convert five consecutive poles into victory. The other drivers to have done so are Niki Lauda in 1974 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2002.

Red Bull on a roll

With Ferrari’s issues in the last race, Max Verstappen and Red Bull have been able to open up their championship advantage. The team has won all of the last five races and now holds an 80-point lead at the head of the team standings.

This is now Red Bull’s longest winning streak since Sebastian Vettel’s record run of nine victories in a row towards the end of the 2013 season. Verstappen leads team-mate Sergio Perez by 21 points in the Drivers’ Championship, this being the first time Red Bull’s drivers have sat first and second in the standings in eleven years.

Red Bull have won in Canada only twice previously – in 2013 and 2014 – and have recorded two podium finishes in the past five races here. Given their form so far in 2022, they’re likely to add to their trophy cabinet again this weekend.

A magical 8th for Hamilton?

Lewis Hamilton is Montreal’s most recent winner, with his 2019 win equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven victories in Canada. Another win here this weekend would see Hamilton equal the record for most wins at a single circuit – but Mercedes’ troubled start to the 2022 season is unlikely to put him in a position to be victorious.

While George Russell scored his third podium of the season in Azerbaijan, Hamilton finished fourth with his fourth top-five finish of 2022. Despite positive feedback on the porpoising issue at the Spanish Grand Prix, both Mercedes drivers struggled with back pain following the race in Baku due to the issues in the W13.

Bumpy surfaces are a major issue for the car and, unfortunately for Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not the smoothest of tracks. Canada may be too early for a change in fortune for the reigning champions – it’s better to wait for the next race in Silverstone to back them for bigger successes.

Two home racers

For the first time since 1969, there will be two Canadian racers on the grid at their home event. Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi will be flying the flag on F1’s return to their homeland. With his future in the sport under increased scrutiny in recent weeks – with media speculation linking Oscar Piastri to his Williams seat – Latifi will make his home race debut this weekend.

For Stroll, this will be his fourth home race appearance. He picked up the first points of his career here in 2017 with a ninth-place finish and scored points again on his last visit to the venue in 2019.

Both Latifi and Stroll are likely to drop out in Q1 on Saturday. Latifi would set a new longest streak of most Q1 exits in his career if he is one of the five slowest qualifiers, while despite scoring here previously, Stroll has never qualified higher than 17th in Montreal.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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