New ‘dark horse’ emerges for Canada as rivals aim to end Red Bull streak

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, driving in Friday practice. Canada, June 2022.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, competing during Friday practice. Canada, June 2022.

Mercedes have been picked as a potential “dark horse” to disrupt Red Bull’s dominance at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

After a two-week break, F1 returns to action as the teams head to the second North American stop in the 2023 schedule, the Canadian Grand Prix.

The scene going into the race is one of utter domination with Red Bull victorious in all seven races so far and looking like an unstoppable force on their way to a sixth Constructors’ Championship.

But with 15 grands prix left to go, there are still plenty of opportunities for their rivals to catch up and one of them enjoyed a particularly strong weekend last time out in Spain.

Mercedes, with their highly upgraded W14, secured a double podium for the first time since the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix and now appear to be the most likely candidates to challenge Christian Horner and co.

2015 LMP2 Le Mans winner Richard Bradley believes the Silver Arrows are a “dark horse” for the race in Montreal.

“I think Canada is awesome,” he said during the On Track GP podcast. “All of the drivers love Canada because it’s a semi-street circuit and is basically through a park similar to Melbourne.

“But it’s one where you really have to be super, super aggressive with it. It’s got the infamous Wall of Champions, which is the wall on the exit of the final corner because every World Champion normally ends up crashing.

“Weather’s always unpredictable there. It’s got a history of rain and it’s always one of the highlights of the calendar. I don’t know what makes it but it’s just always a good race. You never have a bad race in Canada. recommends

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“Who do I expect to be stronger? I don’t think it will suit Red Bull as much as it’s got very, very long straights. I think they’ll be quick because they’re quick everywhere, there’s no question.

“But you know what, the way that Mercedes have upgraded themselves in Barcelona, they got a couple of weeks off to evaluate everything. They could be a dark horse and also Lewis [Hamilton] got his first win in Canada as well.”

It is a circuit that Hamilton has great success at having not only won his first F1 race there but been victorious six more times, putting him level with Michael Schumacher for most wins at the circuit.

But he has not been victorious there since 2019, largely due to the COVID pandemic but also Max Verstappen’s win in 2022. Should it rain, then Bradely is backing Hamilton who he believes is the best driver in the wet.

“You’ve got to go with Lewis,” he said when asked which driver is the best in wet conditions. “He’s just done it too many times over the years. We remember Silverstone in 2008, we remember Monaco. He’s just done it more times then we can remember so Lewis 100%.”