Uncovered: Key strategies and costly errors that decided the 2024 Canadian F1 GP

Uros Radovanovic
A wet start at the Canadian GP

A wet start at the Canadian GP

Costly errors and key strategy decisions made all the difference as Max Verstappen clinched win number six of the 2024 championship to extend his advantage in the Drivers’ standings.

Canada treated us to an absolute thriller. A race bursting with excitement, dramatic overtakes, lead changes, and intricate strategy played out under unpredictable conditions. It was a spectacle that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

Red Bull relying on strategy with pace advantage negated

Despite Max Verstappen clinching victory, the event left a strong impression: the competition is now nipping at Red Bull’s heels more than ever since the start of the 2023 season. The gap is closing, and the racing is becoming ever more intense.

So, how did Max secure yet another win, and which strategic decisions had the most influence on the race? Let’s delve into the race data to uncover the answers.

Changing Weather Conditions

It’s been a long time since we had a race where the track conditions changed so frequently. The race started under rain which soon stopped, and the track began to dry slowly. However, none of the teams changed tyres, knowing that yet another cloud of rain was expected.

Canadian GP data

This created a very interesting race where the main goal for drivers was to preserve their intermediate tyres to withstand another bout of rain. We saw drivers deliberately driving on the wet part of the track on the straights to cool their tyres more effectively.

An additional dose of excitement came from the Safety Car, which significantly reshuffled the field.

Canadian GP data

In the second part of the race, the track began to dry again, so drivers switched to dry tyres around lap 45. However, this wasn’t the end of the drama, considering another Safety Car was deployed after Carlos Sainz’s incident with Alex Albon.

Canadian GP data

It’s interesting to see the Haas drivers, who started the race on wet tyres and immediately took advantage. While others struggled with grip, the green tyres performed much better, allowing Magnussen to find himself in P4 at one point. Unfortunately, a very poor pit stop by the team cost Haas valuable points.

Which Team Was Actually the Fastest on Track?

The image below shows the race pace of drivers during the race on Sunday. The size of each driver’s coloured box represents how consistent or inconsistent they were during the race – the larger the box, the greater the lap time variations.

Canadian GP data

Unsurprisingly, Max was in first place. Although he didn’t have the fastest laps, he was the most consistent among the drivers, and that brought him victory.

Max excellently managed his tyres throughout the race and always knew what the track conditions allowed him to do. Moreover, his team made the best possible decisions in every moment, as usual.

Right behind him were the McLaren drivers and the biggest surprise of the weekend – Mercedes. The following charts clearly show that McLaren was the fastest team on the track, but poor strategic decisions and a lack of luck played their part. Nevertheless, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are in great form and seem to be the main contenders to challenge Max in the upcoming races.

Mercedes also deserves a mention for the fantastic job they did this weekend. The new upgrades brought a significant boost in performance, and it’s nice to see them racing at the front again. The new front wing provided more stability, especially through slow corners, which was evident in Canada. On the other hand, they also had very good top speeds on the straights.

Canadian GP data

Mistakes That Cost McLaren the Victory

As already mentioned, McLaren gave the impression of being the fastest team on the track on Sunday. Lando Norris started the race from third place and held that position for nearly 20 laps. It was evident that he needed more time to warm up his tyres, and when the track dried enough, he began to attack.

Lando had an incredible pace from lap 11 and was definitely the fastest. It didn’t take him long to catch up with the leading duo and eventually overtake both of them.

Canadian GP data

However, the first Safety Car on lap 25 came out in front of Lando, who had to follow its pace while the drivers behind him could accelerate and lose less time in the pit stop. The luck Norris had in Miami was not on his side this time. He returned to third place and, as at the start of the race, needed more time to warm up his tyres and reach the desired pace.

When the track dried again, drivers slowly started switching to dry tyres, but not Norris. McLaren took a risk and kept Lando on track, who was fast at that time but not fast enough. In the end, after changing tyres, Lando came out right next to Max, but since the pit lane exit was wet, he couldn’t find enough grip and returned to third place.

Canadian GP data

Shortly after, Russell made a small mistake, and Norris climbed to second place, where he remained until the end of the race.

At the very end of the race, we enjoyed a battle between Piastri, Russell, and Hamilton for the podium, from which George emerged victorious.

This was Mercedes’ first podium of the season, but the data says it won’t be their last.

Read next: Canadian GP conclusions: Villeneuve v Ricciardo and Russell’s new nickname