Sergio Perez and Jenson Button have both rued their poor luck after a difficult qualifying session for McLaren which saw them finish 12th and 14th respectively.
The wet conditions made tackling the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve particularly difficult, with Felipe Massa paying the price for his mistake. However, the subsequent red flag caused problems for many of the drivers including Perez and Button, with the latter missing the checkered flag and failing to set a time in the final part of the session. Perez failed to improve his time and dropped out of the top ten, with the result marking a step backwards for the team from Monaco.
“That was a very tricky session,” Perez said in a team statement. “It was difficult to make the most of things, and, in the end, luck just wasn’t with us.
“The red flag at the end of Q2 affected me just as I was about to set a good time. Then, with only two minutes of the session remaining, I didn’t get a run without traffic – as a result, I couldn’t get my tires up to temperature.”
Similarly, Button also felt that he had simply got unlucky.
“Today’s qualifying was one of those sessions where it either all falls into place for you – or it doesn’t. And we were just out of luck this afternoon.
“We encountered yellow flags, a red flag; and, when the session restarted, I crossed the line about half a second too late to start my final flying lap.”
Button won the Canadian GP in 2011 as he charged from last to first in changeable conditions, and he is hoping for another wet/dry race tomorrow in order to make up for the disappointment in qualifying.
“A race in mixed conditions tomorrow would be good for us,” he said.
McLaren’s hopes of a fourteenth win in Canada may be dead in the water, but a strong points score is certainly still possible for the British team.
Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States
Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.
It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.
“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”
In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.
With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.
In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.
“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.
“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”
Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.
“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said. “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”
Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.
“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.
“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”
Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.