Welcome to FOX SPORTS’ live coverage of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix.
The pressure will be on for championship leader Lewis Hamilton in qualifying after his crash in FP2 ended his session after just eight laps.
He still finished inside the top six having topped FP1 with his new Mercedes engine but with Charles Leclerc leading a Ferrari 1-2, we might finally see a different manufacturer on the top step of the podium come Monday morning (AEST).
Daniel Ricciardo is looking for a positive result in Montreal again as he returns to the home of his first ever F1 victory, from back in 2014.
He ran in P8 in both practice sessions and is confident he cannot only reach Q3 but put in a strong showing after starting in P6 in Monaco.
“It’s going to be tight but I think we will have the car to put us in the shop for Q3 and then I think our race pace will be… today wasn’t perfect but I think I know what we can do to make that better,” Ricciardo said.
“It should be close, McLaren looks strong, Haas [look strong] as well on one lap. But I’d say that McLaren is the main competitor in the midfield at the moment with Sainz. But I think they’ll be in reach, we will try and get them.
“Carlos’ lap was strong. As a Renault power unit side it was good but we would love to be there in fourth. It was a pretty good day. As we are we have a good shot at Q3 but we need to find a little bit more.”
Back then, McLaughlin was just three years old and could only harbour dreams of racing success. Now, he’s living those dreams to the fullest, and a second drivers’ title is all but a certainty with the New Zealander building a massive 573-point lead.
Lowndes achieved the mark as a 22-year-old rookie with the Holden Racing Team in 1996, and went on to take 107 career victories alongside three drivers’ titles and seven Bathurst wins.
Sunday’s Race 22 win at The Bend Motorsport Park marked McLaughlin’s 41st career victory, opening a door into where the 26-year-old sits in ATCC/Supercars history.
McLaughlin is now sixth all time on the race winners’ list. Only Jamie Whincup (114), Lowndes, Mark Skaife (90), Garth Tander (54) and Peter Brock (48) have won more races.
Think of names like Glenn Seton, Mark Winterbottom, Allan Moffat and John Bowe. McLaughlin is ahead of all of them, and he’s continuing to rise up the list.
Master qualifier McLaughlin is already second all-time on the pole winners’ list with 60, behind just Whincup (80). Winterbottom (36) and Shane van Gisbergen (18) are the closest active drivers in the ballpark.
This is all before McLaughlin’s 100th round start, which fittingly comes at his home event at the Auckland SuperSprint across September 13-15.
Joining Lowndes is “awesome”, but usurping him on home soil would be even sweeter in such a competitive era.
“You never think that you can probably, in this day and age, win 16,” McLaughlin said.
“I’m so proud of the team to give me a car I can be able to do it.
“I’ve been saying the whole time, it was a privilege to drive this.
“Trying to stay humble, and drive the thing as fast as I can and thankfully it provides some results from time to time.
“Very lucky and hopefully [with] my 100th round in New Zealand coming up, maybe we get a win there and get maybe pass him [Lowndes]. We’ll see.”
The fast and ferocious Pukekohe Park Raceway holds special memories for McLaughlin, who as a teenager in 2013, became the youngest ever driver to win an ATCC/Supercars race.
It was a special moment for the then Garry Rogers Motorsport young gun, who shared the podium with Lowndes on that very special day.
Career win No. 1 was tough as the then 19-year-old held off a fast-finishing pack which included Jason Bright, Lowndes, van Gisbergen, current DJRTP teammate Fabian Coulthard and Will Davison.
Sandown Raceway is expected to remain on the calendar and host a SuperSprint event, likely in November, despite losing the 500km race for 2020.
FOX Sports reporter Chris Stubbs revealed the expected changes across the OTR SuperSprint weekend, and the biggest news regards Phillip Island and Queensland Raceway, with both venues set to be left off the 2020 calendar.
Phillip Island hosted an event in April earlier this year, while the Ipswich event has typically occupied a slot in late August.
It also means Winton will remain on the calendar, likely in its existing May slot.
It’s also believed the Auckland SuperSprint, which was moved to the Sandown 500 slot in mid-September this season, will be held across the Anzac Day weekend in 2020.
The popular New Zealand track last hosted an event across the Anzac Day weekend in 2014.
The Perth SuperNight, which debuted this season, will be accompanied by a return to night racing at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The western Sydney venue hosted a single 300km race under lights in 2018, but was left off the calendar this season. However, it is expected to make a return in 2020 under a two-race format.
The SuperSprint format is also set to be tweaked, with the Saturday 120km race expected to be lengthened to 200km, the same length as Sunday races.
The Adelaide 500 is locked in for February 20-23, and the 13 events and dates that will follow are set to be revealed this week.