CANADIAN GP – Max Verstappen fends off Carlos Sainz in close fight in the closing stages to take victory

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen has taken victory after fending off a late attack from Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver looked to have the edge during the closing stages over the Ferrari, while Sainz closed up through the first two sectors Verstappen looked to have the straight-line advantage on the long straight between L’Epingle and the Wall of Champions.

The fight between the two former teammates was hard fought with Ferrari able to put pressure on the Dutchman throughout the race after passing Fernando Alonso aided by DRS on the third lap. That set them up for a race long battle between the two, with Verstappen able to past Sainz following the safety car on lap forty-eight.

Sainz up until that point lead Verstappen by seven seconds, but when the Alpha Tauri of Yuki Tsunoda crashed with twenty laps to go the Spaniard’s lead was wiped out by the safety car. On the restart, Verstappen pulled away building half a second lead but while Sainz looked fast couldn’t get close enough to try a move but stayed closely behind looking to pounce on any mistakes, but that never came in the closing stages.

When he did start to close the gap, Sainz made little mistakes and on the final lap locked up at the hairpin where he was already losing time on the following straight allowing the Dutchman to pull ahead and on to victory. Sainz however showed the maturity like at Monza 2020, with great speed and composure to finish second as well as taking the fastest lap.

Ferrari, aided by Sainz scoring an extra point for the fastest lap of the race, were at least able to narrowly reduce Red Bull’s advantage in the constructors’ championship to 76 points. But Verstappen has won six of the nine races this season, the title defence starting to come together after woes in Sakhir and Melbourne.

Sainz told reporter, “I wasn’t leaving any inches to the walls, the braking and I was pushing everything with the battery. I tried to pass Max.The positive thing is that we were quicker, faster all race and it just (needed) that little bit more to overtake around here.”

Lewis Hamilton finished the race third, six tenths behind Sainz and finished ahead of his Mercedes teammate George Russell. Mercedes looked a lot more competitive and despite the seven-time champion describing the car as “undrivable” on Friday he returned to the podium for the first time since the opening race in Sakhir in March.

Hamilton saying “It’s quite overwhelming to get this third place – it’s been such a battle this year with the car, but we continue to stay vigilant, focused and never giving up, and that’s something I’m proud of.”

Russell continues his run of nine races finishing in the top five this season, the only driver to do that this season proving his consistency.

Charles Leclerc came from the back of the grid to finish fifth and closed the gap to three points behind Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez. The Mexican was forced to retire from the race because of an engine and gearbox failure in the opening laps, the car appeared to lose drive and he slowed to a stop at Turn Thirteen.

Questions again for Ferrari as the simulations suggested they should have been able to beat Mercedes. But it was a race where Leclerc limited the damage as best he could despite Verstappen extending his lead in the drivers.

Esteban Ocon was sixth ahead of Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso by a second. But it was a race where a mixture of questionable strategy and technical issues left the two-time champion unable to take advantage of his first front row start in a decade, with him finishing ahead of the two Alfa Romeo’s.

Alpine didn’t give in to pressure from Alonso to release him, he has been the faster of the two drivers all weekend to release him. A frustrating race for the Spaniard even though victory was unlikely after losing out to Sainz who stayed with him in the opening quarter before getting the run on him aided by DRS on the main straight on lap twenty-two.

Valtteri Bottas finished eighth ahead of his teammate Guanyu Zhou, the Chinese driver had spent several laps battling with Lance Stroll for tenth.

Daniel Ricciardo finished eleventh, four seconds behind Stroll as he spilt the two Aston Martin’s finishing ahead of Sebastian Vettel. McLaren had a difficult afternoon a disastrous double stacking, Lando Norris finishing fifteenth after also speeding in the pit lane.

Alex Albon finished thirteenth two tenths ahead Pierre Gasly, after Alpha Tauri’s off weekend compared to their strong form this season. Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda retiring from the race when he crashed on lap forty-seven. Nicolas Latifi finished ahead of Kevin Magnussen, the final two drivers to finish the race.

Sergio Perez was the big unknown going into the race, it was likely he could have continued his dash through the field following a great start after starting thirteenth he had made his way into the points before a gearbox failure cause him to stop on track.

Mick Schumacher was another driver to be hit by reliability, following a career best qualifying the Haas driver was forced to retire because of an engine failure a few laps after Perez.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.