Max is the master of Montreal
Max Verstappen took a dominant sixth victory of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix, resisting strong pressure from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz after a Safety Car erased the gap between the two drivers in the closing stages of the 70-lap race. It was a disappointing Sunday in Montreal for Sergio Pérez, however, with the Mexican driver retiring from the race after seven laps with a suspected gearbox issue.
Celebrating his podium finish, driver Max Verstappen said: “The weekend went pretty smoothly for me, and we can be happy with that. Overall the Ferraris were very quick and strong in the race. It was really exciting at the end; the last two laps were a lot of fun, I was flat out racing and I was giving it everything I had.
“The safety car towards the end of the race of course didn’t help, Carlos had fresher tyres so that made it difficult, I would have preferred to attack than defend, but luckily it worked out.
“Also, this year we seem to be quick on the straights so that helps a lot. The next race is Silverstone, I’m looking forward to going back to the more traditional tracks. We have to keep focused as a Team and find improvements wherever we can.”
At the race start, the field got away cleanly and at the front of the grid Max powered into the lead ahead of Alonso. Sainz held third ahead of Hamilton who resisted heavy pressure from Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. Further back, Checo also made a good start and he quickly rose to P11 ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon.
At the front, Max quickly began to carve out a gap and by lap three the Dutchman was almost three seconds clear of Alonso who was holding off Sainz. However, when DRS was enabled, the Ferrari driver used the speed boost to pass Alonso on the run to the final chicane. Elsewhere, Magnussen, who had sustained front wing damage in his earlier battle with Hamilton, was shown black and orange flags on lap seven and he pitted to have the wing changed.
On the next lap, Checo’s race imploded when he suddenly slowed on the approach to turn eight. “I've lost the engine, I'm stuck in gear,” he reported as he ground to a halt in the run-off area.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed and Max immediately headed for the pit lane for hard tyres. He emerged in third place behind new leader Sainz, and second-placed Alonso.
Discussing his race, driver Sergio Perez said: “We think it was a gearbox issue and I got stuck in gear unfortunately. Things were looking good, I had a good start, I was on the hard tyre and making progress. I had finally got Daniel, in the McLaren out of the DRS zone and it should have been a race where I could have worked my way through the field, so it’s a big shame. I felt I had plenty of potential in my race to make up a lot of places and recover good points.
“We need to keep on top of the reliability because a zero, when you are fighting for the Championship, is very painful and costly. You go into new regulations and there is always going to be new problems to face.
“Today hurts a lot, it has been a weekend to forget for me, so I want to forget about today and move onto Silverstone.”
At the start of race week, Checo and Alpha Tauri’s, Yuki Tsunoda swapped their Formula 1 cars for something a little bit different. Check out what they got up to here.
The VSC period finished at the end of lap 10 with Max in third place, 6.5s behind Sainz and 4.0s off Alonso. Mercedes’ George Russell held fourth place while the Briton’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who also chose to pit under the caution, was soon past Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to take fifth.
Further back, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had climbed to 13th place after starting from P19 on the grid. At the end of lap 13 he passed McLaren’s Lando Norris and set off after Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, who had the benefit of DRS from 10th-placed Albon.
Back to the fight at the sharp end of the race, and at the end of lap 15 Max closed on Alonso in the hairpin and on the run to the final chicane he breezed past the Alpine driver to claim P2, 5.4s behind Sainz. Meanwhile, at the edge of the top 10, Bottas passed Albon on the run to the final chicane to take P10, while Leclerc powered past the Williams as they headed for the start/finish line to steal 11th.
On lap 20, Mick Schumacher stopped in the run-off area in the same spot where Checo retired and the VSC was again deployed. That gave Sainz and Russell the chance to make a pit stop and both took on hard tyres. Alonso, though, stayed out on track and he took second place, 7.7s behind Max.
Leclerc, still on his starting hard tyres, also stayed out during the VSC and on lap 22 he found himself in seventh place. Sainz, meanwhile, passed Alonso to once again take second place and the Alpine driver was also then passed by Hamilton.
On lap 23, Sainz was 9.3s behind Max, and on much newer hard tyres. However, despite the fresh rubber, the Ferrari driver couldn’t make a significant dent in the gap and on lap 28 he had only closed on the champion by half a second. At the end of that tour Alonso finally headed to the pit lane and he took on hard tyres, re-joining the action in seventh place, behind Leclerc.
As the race reached the halfway mark, Max led Sainz by eight seconds, though the Dutchman was complaining that he was beginning to struggle for grip on his hard tyres. On lap 37, Sainz, whose tyres were 10 laps newer, closed the gap to 7.4s, while Hamilton continued in third place, 10s behind the Spaniard and nine ahead of Russell.
Further back Alonso began to close on sixth-placed Leclerc who was complaining that he had no rear-end grip and couldn’t mount a challenge on fifth-placed Ocon. The Ferrari driver elected to pit at the end of lap 41 but the stop was hampered by a problem with the rear left. He re-joined in 12th place, behind McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Max made his second stop at the end of lap 43 and after another good stop for more hard tyres he emerged behind Hamilton. Max made short work of getting past the Mercedes, at the end of lap 44, and he set off in pursuit of race leader Sainz who was 9.8s behind the Ferrari.
Leclerc, on new tyres, now began to claw his way through the pack and by lap 49 he had climbed to P8. On lap 49, though, Yuki lost control coming out of the pit lane on cold tyres. The Safety Car was deployed and Sainz took advantage of the caution to make a second pit stop. Max retook the lead behind the safety car and Sainz soon closed to the Red Bull to prepare for a fight to the finish. Behind the Spaniard, Hamilton and Russell held third and fourth ahead of Ocon and Alonso, with Leclerc in seventh ahead of Bottas, Vettel and Zhou.
The Safety Car left the track at the end of lap 54. Max controlled the re-start perfectly and he held his lead ahead of Sainz and Hamilton. Sainz put in the fastest lap of the race on lap 56 to stay within a second of Max and on lap 57 DRS was enabled. At the end of the lap the Spaniard closed in but Max defended well to keep the Ferrari driver at bay. Leclerc then made a move past Alonso in the hairpin to split the Alpine drivers and claim P6. He then put the same move on Ocon to claim fifth place.
At the front Max upped his pace marginally and he began to eke out a tiny margin of comfort to Sainz and he was able to steady the gap at a little over half a second. Sainz pressed hard and there was no room for error but after 70 laps, the Dutchman crossed the line nine-tenths of a second ahead of the Ferrari to take his 26th career win and his sixth win of the season.
Sainz was left with second place and Hamilton took his second podium finish of the season with third place. Russell finished fourth ahead of Leclerc and Ocon and Alonso were sixth and seventh respectively. Bottas finished eighth for Alfa Romeo, ahead of teammate Zhou and the final point on offer went to local hero Lance Stroll of Aston Martin.
Commenting on the teams Montreal performance, Team Principal Christian Horner said: “Max was amazing today, he was under so much pressure particularly at the end of the race, he’s been superb all weekend – every session through practice, qualifying, and then the race.
“The Ferrari was very quick today, with the DRS zones the way they are here he couldn’t break it and Carlos was cruising up to the back of him and you could see them recharging their battery to have another go time-after-time, but Max kept his concentration really well and it was absolutely amazing performance.
“It was a frustrating weekend for Checo and we think he had a suspected gearbox issue, so we’ll need to get the car back and have a look at what happened. It’s exciting to now head towards Silverstone.”
Max’s first win in Montreal means he now has a commanding 46-point championship lead over Checo, whose DNF leaves him second, on 129 points. Leclerc’s fifth-place puts him on 126 points. In the Constructors’ Championship the team now has 304 points, 76 clear of Ferrari who have 228 points.