Max Verstappen won the Canadian Grand Prix. However, a number of incidents made life more difficult for the Dutchman than expected. Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton finished on the podium behind the Red Bull spearhead. Mick Schumacher retired with a drivetrain problem.
Max Verstappen has taken another big step towards defending his title. After his biggest rivals had put themselves in poor positions through mistakes in qualifying and penalties before the start, Canada's win seemed like a mere formality for the world champion. But in the end the Dutchman had to fight hard for the 25 championship points.
In the final laps, there was an exciting duel between Verstappen and Carlos Sainz for victory. A safety car phase had brought the Red Bull and the Ferrari very close together with 18 laps to go. But Sainz couldn't find a way past it and had to settle for second place.
Red Bull made life difficult for themselves early on in the race. Although Verstappen was able to start from pole position and initially lead the field, the Red Bull strategists then decided on the ninth lap to make an early pit stop in a virtual safety car phase. The pace in the field had to be slowed down artificially because Sergio Perez had coasted to a stop in the sister car with a gearbox problem and had to be rescued.
Hot duel in the final laps
The stop saved Verstappen some time, but it was clear that he had to come back in relatively early. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz made short work of compatriot Fernando Alonso, who had started from second place after his good qualifying session, but was unable to keep up with the pace at the front.
Ferrari used another virtual safety car phase on lap 20 for Sainz's first stop. The second period of rest was triggered by a hybrid problem on Mick Schumacher's Haas. The German was on a promising course for points when he had to park his car.
Verstappen took the lead again, but had significantly older tires than his pursuer. With the rubber deteriorating more and more, Red Bull brought the number 1 car into the pits again on lap 43. It looked like Verstappen would have to catch up on the track from a ten-second deficit. But just five laps later, Yuki Tsunoda slid into the barrier after changing his tires in the second corner, which called a real safety car onto the track.
Ferrari decided to bring Sainz back in, causing the Spaniard to lose the lead but restarted on fresher tires compared to Verstappen. But despite the rubber advantage, the Scuderia driver had to settle for second place for the third time this year. At the finish, the gap was only 0.9 seconds.
Leclerc's race to catch up ends in P5
"They had a very good pace," Verstappen praised his opponent. "It would have been very difficult for me in the end to close the gap despite fresher tires. Then the safety car came and they were able to go on fresh tires. I would have preferred to attack than defend myself. Luckily we have a car this year , which is very fast on the straights."
Sainz was annoyed that he just missed out on his first win: "I tried everything to beat Max. But unfortunately I didn't come out of the hairpin well enough. It was always a bit lacking. In general, though, I'm happy with the pace . We could always put Max under pressure. We tried everything and we have to see the positive aspects."
Verstappen was able to massively extend his lead in the World Cup to 46 points. Not only Perez lost a lot of points due to his failure, Charles Leclerc also dropped significantly in the overall standings. The Monegasse made slow progress from the penultimate starting position. The virtual safety car phases didn't fit his strategy. The mechanics messed up the pit stop. And the Ferrari also suffered from traction problems. Leclerc found it harder than expected when overtaking.
The penalty cost Alonso two places
In the end, the second Ferrari rolled over the line in fifth place behind the two Mercedes. The Silver Arrows, who struggled with numerous problems in practice on Friday, put a surprisingly strong pace on the tarmac. Lewis Hamilton was even able to keep up with the speed of the front runners. In the end, the winner was only six seconds short.
"It's such a big battle with the car this year. But we're not giving up," commented Hamilton after crossing the finish line. "Thanks to the whole crew. Unfortunately, the guys at the front are still a bit too far away. But we're getting closer. Our pace was really good. We certainly didn't expect a podium when we arrived." George Russell was able to continue his good series this season with fourth place.
Behind Leclerc, the two Alpines rolled in sixth and seventh. Alonso lost the duel against teammate Esteban Ocon because of a suboptimal strategy and problems with the engine. And then there was also trouble from the race control. Because he is said to have changed the line too often when defending against Valtteri Bottas, a five-second penalty was subsequently imposed, which Alonso threw behind the two Alfa Romeos of Bottas and Guanyu Zhou.
The last championship point went to local hero Lance Stroll. Sebastian Vettel in the second Aston Martin finished 12th empty-handed. The man from Heppenheim gambled with a very early first stop to start catching up. But in the end, competitors benefited more from the incidents. The next chance for a better result comes in two weeks when the Silverstone classic is on the agenda.