Verstappen returns to winning ways at the Canadian Grand Prix

Feature Image Credit:

After struggling at the Monaco Grand Prix, Max Verstappen returns to the top step of the podium at an eventful Canadian Grand Prix.

The start was a tentative one as the rainfall meant drivers had very little grip off the line. Fortunately, drivers were able to make it through the opening corners very cleanly, aside from Perez and Gasly making contact on the exit of turn 2.

The Haas cars took a risky gamble by starting on the wet tyres, and were flying through the field. By the end of lap 1, Magnussen had gained seven positions, and would even reach as high as fourth. However, the crossover point came very quickly, and both he and Hulkenberg would have to quickly pit onto intermediates to match the rest of the grid.

As conditions improved, the fight for the lead began to close up, and it was looking like it would be difficult for Russell to hold on to his lead. Norris was the fastest of the top 3, and would take 2nd place from Verstappen, whilst Russell would lose out to both drivers after making a mistake at the final chicane, giving the lead to Norris.

The McLaren driver was pulling away fast, but the difficult conditions and imminent return of the rain, the complexion of the race could be turned in an instant, and that is exactly what happened when Logan Sargeant crashed on lap 25. The safety car was called out, and had picked up Norris before he had the chance to pit. By the time that he did, his lead had been wiped completely, and he fell to 3rd, with Verstappen now in 1st.

The rain did not last very long, though it would take a little bit of time for conditions to be dry enough for slick tyres. That didn’t stop Ferrari gambling on hards with Leclerc at the end of the safety car period, whose torrid weekend continued into the race. Leclerc would only continue to fall backwards, and would eventually retire from the race on lap 43.

At the front, 5th placed Hamilton would pit on lap 44, with Piastri ahead responding just one lap later. Verstappen and Russell would both come in on lap 46, though Norris would continue to run on intermediates for a little while longer. This looked to be an inspired move from the McLaren strategists, as Norris had began to increase the gap to Verstappen behind, which the slicks looking as though they would take a while to heat up.

Norris would eventually come in on lap 48, and would exit the pits in first but only for a brief moment, with the Brit struggling for traction on a pit exit that was still very damp. Whilst he would lose out to Verstappen, he would still find himself ahead of Russell to regain 2nd place.

Russell would himself take back 2nd place from Norris just a couple of laps later, before having to concede the position once again after making a mistake out of turn 9.

The first race weekend since signing a contract extension could not have gone worse for Sergio Perez. After being knocked out of Q1 yesterday, Perez struggled to make any real gains during the race, before a spin into turn 5 would cause irreperable damage to his rear wing on lap 53, forcing him to retire the car.

Carlos Sainz would also spin at this corner just one lap later, completing Ferrari’s nightmare weekend. He would go on to tag Williams’ Alex Albon, with the incident causing another safety car period, and both drivers had to retire.

This neutralised the field, and provided a chance for Norris to get at Verstappen after seeing the lead continue to grow further and further into the distance. However, they would have to contend with a more immediate threat from behind to even stay in 2nd place, after both Russell and Hamilton would pit for fresh tyres.

Neither Mercedes cars would make any overtakes in the opening couple of laps after the restart, but Hamilton would find himself in third after Russell and Piastri made minor contact that slowed both of them down. Russell though had the superior pace of the two Mercedes drivers, and would quickly take the final podium position for himself, but would not have enough time to get to Norris.

Verstappen would stroll to victory once again with no threat from Norris in the end. This made this his 50th win in the last 75 races, taking him 56 points clear of Leclerc in 2nd.

Further behind and Alpine scored their best finish of the season so far, with Gasly ending the race in 9th and Ocon in 10th. The three points scored put them back into 8th place ahead of Williams.

Also in the constructor’s championship, Ferrari’s poor showing means that Red Bull’s lead over the Scuderia is now extended to a gap of 49 points, whilst McLaren’s pursuit of 2nd is now down to a 40 point difference to Ferrari.

Race Results

1. Max Verstappen 1:45:47.927
2. Lando Norris +3.879
3. George Russell +4.317
4. Lewis Hamilton +4.915
5. Oscar Piastri +10.199
6. Fernando Alonso +17.510
7. Lance Stroll +23.625
8. Daniel Ricciardo +28.672
9. Pierre Gasly +30.021
10. Esteban Ocon +30.313
11. Nico Hulkenberg +30.824
12. Kevin Magnussen +31.253
13. Valtteri Bottas +40.487
14. Yuki Tsunoda +52.694
15. Guanyu Zhou +1 lap
16. Carlos Sainz DNF
17. Alexander Albon DNF
18. Sergio Perez DNF
19. Charles Leclerc DNF
20. Logan Sargeant DNF

World Drivers Championship standings

  1. Max Verstappen – 194 points
  2. Charles Leclerc – 138 points
  3. Lando Norris – 131 points
  4. Carlos Sainz – 108 points
  5. Sergio Perez – 107 points
  6. Oscar Piastri – 81 points
  7. George Russell – 69 points
  8. Lewis Hamilton – 55 points
  9. Fernando Alonso – 41 points
  10. Yuki Tsunoda – 19 points
  11. Lance Stroll – 17 points
  12. Daniel Ricciardo – 9 points
  13. Oliver Bearman – 6 points
  14. Nico Hulkenberg – 6 points
  15. Pierre Gasly – 3 points
  16. Alex Albon – 2 points
  17. Esteban Ocon – 2 points
  18. Kevin Magnussen – 1 point
  19. Zhou Guanyu – 0 points
  20. Valtteri Bottas – 0 points
  21. Logan Sargeant – 0 points

World Constructors Championship

  1. Red Bull – 301 points
  2. Ferrari – 252 points
  3. McLaren – 212 points
  4. Mercedes – 124 points
  5. Aston Martin – 58 points
  6. RB – 28 points
  7. Haas – 7 points
  8. Alpine – 2 points
  9. Williams – 2 points
  10. Kick Sauber – 0 points