F1: Verstappen repels charging Sainz to victory in Canada
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen withstood enormous pressure from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in the late stages of the Canadian GP to win round the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, 340,000 passionate fans were treated to a grandstand finish as the two former teammates were nip and tuck right until the chequered flag.
Verstappen, who mastered the wet and tricky conditions to claim Pole Position, edged away from the chasing pack as main race rival Sainz made his way past Alpine’s Fernando Alonso after an exceptional qualifying performance.
An early Virtual Safety Car was deployed on Lap 8 as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez ground to a halt with suspected engine issues. This prompted team-mate Verstappen into an early pit-stop along with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with Sainz leading the way out front.
The VSC was deployed once more on Lap 20 as Haas’s Mick Schumacher then pulled off the road and into retirement. Race leader Sainz emerged from the pits – ahead of Hamilton but some nine seconds behind Verstappen.
With slightly fresher tyres, Sainz started to reel Verstappen in but the Dutchman pitted again on Lap 44 with front-left graining. With AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda sliding off the track and into the barriers on cold tyres, the full-course Safety Car was required as Sainz pitted for fresh tyres.
With the Safety Car bunching the drivers up, Sainz now had a clear run at Verstappen with tyres that were now 10 laps younger as racing resumed on Lap 55. With the Ferrari and Red Bull each quicker in different sectors of the track, Sainz remained within DRS range but couldn’t find a space to launch his F1-75 down the inside.
Withstanding the pressure, Verstappen comfortably crossed the line to take Red Bull’s sixth consecutive win this season as Sainz settled for second. The Dutchman picked up Red Bull’s first win in Canada since 2014 and has extended his advantage to 46 points in the championship.
Sainz, who stood on the podium for the 11th time in his career, is still searching for his maiden victory but it was a welcome result for the Scuderia after a double retirement in Azerbaijan.
Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium places for the first time since the season-opener in Bahrain and it marked a truly remarkable turnaround as the Seven-Time Champion claimed his W13 to be “undriveable” after the second Practice session.
It was another solid result and a decent haul of points for Mercedes as George Russell claimed fourth ahead of a recovering Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. It was a ‘frustrating’ day for the Monegasque who worked his way up from 19th on the grid as a result of pre-race grid
penalties. The Ferrari driver ran long on the Hard then switched to the Medium tyre which saw a burst of pace which saw him climb into the top 10.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon claimed a fantastic sixth and it should have been a bigger points haul for the French squad but a post-race penalty saw Alonso drop to ninth instead of seventh at the chequered flag.
Alonso, who secured his first front-row start since 2012, started to suffer engine problems early on in the race and due to the issues, he was desperately trying to stay ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas. However, the Stewards ruled he defended too harshly therefore the Spaniard was given a penalty.
With Bottas promoted to seventh, Alfa Romeo team-mate Zhou Guanyu followed behind the Finn in eighth to score his first points for the first time since Bahrain.
Aston Martin and home favourite Lance Stroll claimed the final championship point in tenth after a late charge from outside the points.
Daniel Ricciardo just missed out on points and with Lando Norris suffering from a lack of pace due to older power units, McLaren failed to score points. As a result, the team are now being caught by Alpine and Alfa Romeo in the championship.
With 175 points, Verstappen comfortably leads the championship with Perez still on 129 after a no-score while Leclerc closes in on 126. For the first time since the start of the season, Ferrari outscored Red Bull but still trail by 76 points.
The teams and drivers now have a week’s break until the British GP which will take place on the 3rd of July.