Verstappen fends off late Sainz charge to Canadian victory

By Steven De Groote on

The Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The Dutchman fought off a challenging Carlos Sainz who finished a close second as Lewis Hamilton completed the podium for Mercedes.

As expected, the weather conditions turned out massively different to Saturday with perfect sunny racing weather greeting the drivers as they stood on the starting grid for the lights to go out.

When they did, Verstappen has a very solid start and easily maintained first position into Turn 1 while Alonso was side by side with Sainz. The Alpine driver still managed to maintain the upper hand and stick to second place, only for Sainz to make it past with DRS on lap 4.

The top 5 retained position but behind them, Ocon passed Schumacher and Russell followed later on in the hairpin to drop Schumacher two places by the end of the first lap.

Sergio Perez moved up into 11th while Bottas lost two spots.

On lap 8 Magnussen became the first to stop, changing tyres while also taking on a new front wing after incurring some damage in the first lap. Vettel pitted moments later and returned to the track in 19th position.

A single lap later, Perez stopped with engine trouble, resulting in a virtual safety car. Verstappen immediately pitted, followed by Hamilton and Tsunoda, all switching medium for hard tyres. Most others went on for another 10 laps while Alonso had the longest first stint of all, extending it to 28 laps before taking on a new set of hard Pirelli tyres.

When the Spaniard returned to the track, all first stops were out of the way. Verstappen was comfortably leading, followed by Sainz, Hamilton, Russell, Ocon, Leclerc, Alonso, Bottas, Stroll and Zhou.

As Leclerc then got stuck behind Ocon, Ferrari opted to pit him on lap 40. Sadly for the Monegasque the stop was a couple of seconds slower than it could’ve been, sending him down into 12th, behind Tsunoda and Ricciardo.

Verstappen then pitted again on lap 40, changing to a fresh set of mediums in 2.4 seconds. The Dutchman returned to the track aside of Hamilton but it was the latter who wrestled himself ahead. Verstappen would quickly settle the matter with the DRS pass on the back straight in the same lap.

Just at the same time, Hamilton pitted and Russell followed suit one lap later.

Leclerc meanwhile continued to work his way up the pack with passes on Ricciardo, Tsunoda and Zhou while gaining a position thanks to a pitstop for Stroll.

Just when things settled a bit – except for Verstappen hauling in on then-leader Sainz, Tsunoda crashed out on lap 49. The Japanese went off in Turn 2 and hit the barriers quite hard, resulting in a safety car to remove the AlphaTauri.

Again this resulted in a large number of pitstops, including for Sainz who took on new hard tyres and Ocon, Alonso and Bottas who all switched to medium tyres. Sadly for Alonso, this nullified his longer first stint, equalling his strategy for the remainder of the race with Ocon while being behind.

Positions behind the safety car, on lap 52 were Verstappen, leading Sainz, Hamilton, Russell, Ocon, Alonso, Leclerc, Bottas, Vettel, Zhou, Ricciardo, Magnussen (on 45-lap old hard tyres), Stroll, Gasly, Albon, Norris and Latifi.

Clearing the track and letting lapped cars past the safety car took some time, leaving 16 laps when the race got going again. Verstappen waited until the chicane to get going but there we no surprises, and nobody managed to make an overtake either.

One lap after the restart Zhou passed Vettel for 9th with the latter soon losing another position to Ricciardo, most like due to his tyres being 30 laps older compared to Ricciardo’s. Vettel went on to let Stroll past, who on his behalf managed to overtake Ricciardo for the final points-scoring position.

In front, Sainz threatened Verstappen for the lead, setting two fastest laps immediately after the restart and menacing the Red Bull towards the end of the second DRS zone on the finish straight.

The other Ferrari of Leclerc also went well, demoting both Alpines one position in 3 laps as Leclerc passed them both in identical fashion; both under braking at the hairpin.

Sainz maintained pressure but in the end was unable to make a true passing attempt for first place. Hamilton secured third ahead of Russell and Leclerc. Ocon ended up in 6th as Alonso was told to stay behind by his team “considering the straight line issue”. Alonso complied and eventually had to fight off Bottas to the line (Alonso was later penalized with a 5s time penalty for moving too often on the straight), but not after telling his engineer “ok, but I am 100 times faster this weekend”.

In the end, another great race for Verstappen’s Championship, another second place finish for Sainz, a solid recovery drive by Leclerc and another unfortunate day for Alonso.


Pos. No. Driver Car Laps Time Pts
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Rbpt 70 1:36:21.757 25
2 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 70 +0.993s 19
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 70 +7.006s 15
4 63 George Russell Mercedes 70 +12.313s 12
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 70 +15.168s 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 70 +23.890s 8
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 70 +25.247s 6
8 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 70 +26.952s 4
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 70 +24.945s 2
10 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 70 +38.222s 1
11 3 Daniel Ricciardo Mclaren Mercedes 70 +43.047s 0
12 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 70 +44.245s 0
13 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 70 +44.893s 0
14 10 Pierre Gasly Alphatauri Rbpt 70 +45.183s 0
15 4 Lando Norris Mclaren Mercedes 70 +52.145s 0
16 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 70 +59.978s 0
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 70 +68.180s 0
NC 22 Yuki Tsunoda Alphatauri Rbpt 47 DNF 0
NC 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 18 DNF 0
NC 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Rbpt 7 DNF 0

Sainz scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.
Alonso finished 7th but a 5s time penalty demoted him to 9th

GP Canadaprevious