First-time wins have been key for Max Verstappen the past two weeks, as he extends his Championship lead after the Canadian Grand Prix.
He took victory in Baku for the first time last week, and won the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday for the first time in his career, barely holding off Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz after a late safety car, earning the Red Bull team their sixth win in a row, their longest win streak in almost a decade.
After Saturday’s wet qualifying session, Max Verstappen said “I still expect it not to be a straightforward race.” As the events unfolded Sunday afternoon at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Verstappen’s words came true at the Canadian Grand Prix.
With a jumbled starting grid, there were multiple drivers that were expected to make moves up the pack during the race. Among those drivers was Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. After an early qualifying exit following a crash into the barriers, the Mexican vet started the Grand Prix in 13th. Perez’s day only got worse on the ninth lap, when a transmission issue resulted in yet another early retirement from a Red Bull car.
As for the championship, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fifth, earning him just 10 points. This puts him 49 points behind Verstappen in the Driver’s Championship standings and a mere three points behind Perez who sits in second place.
Haas Misses Out on Points
It was a surprisingly pleasant qualifying result for the American-based team in the paddock with Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher qualifying in fifth and sixth respectively. However, that combination of good luck and strong pace did not continue into the race, as both drivers failed to score points.
Schumacher once again missed out on his first-ever Formula 1 points, this time through no fault of his own. He was running in the points, holding off the likes of Leclerc and Valterri Bottas, when his Ferrari engine simply gave out ending his race. This now marks 31 straight races where the young German has failed to put points on the board.
Schumacher’s experienced teammate Magnussen had a quality start from fifth, almost passing Lewis Hamilton in the run down to the first turn. However, his day quickly turned sour, as slight contact with the seven-time world champion resulted in damage to his front wing endplate, earning him a black and orange flag from the stewards, requiring him to pull into the pits for an unscheduled repair. Magnussen would never fully recover and would finish 17th, last of all cars running at the checkered flag.
Mercedes Continues to Improve
Without a doubt, Montreal served as a shining light for the struggling Mercedes team in an otherwise dim season. George Russell and the aforementioned Hamilton showed pace in both dry and wet conditions throughout the weekend, which was capped off by a podium finish for Hamilton, his first since the opening round of the season in Bahrain.
Russell performed just as well, finishing just a few seconds behind his teammate. The former Williams driver may have even qualified and finished ahead of Hamilton if it weren’t for the big risk he took in qualifying, running slick tires in Q3, which put started him eighth on Sunday.
Sainz Misses Out on Maiden Win…Again
How many times will writers have to type out this headline? Only time will tell, but I am sure it is just as painful for those rooting for him as it is for Carlos Sainz who ran a wonderful race for the Scuderia. He almost caught the flying Verstappen in the closing laps but missed out on the win by just under a second. The Spaniard put on an impressive show, holding off Hamilton and blowing by fellow countryman Fernando Alonso in the early stages of the race.
Sainz was helped greatly when Yuki Tsunoda made friends with the wall on lap 48, bringing out the race’s only full safety car period. The “Smooth Operator”, the nickname he picked up during his McLaren days, pitted and attempted to chase down the reigning world champion in the closing laps. But the Red Bull’s speed down the straightaways turned out to be too much for Sainz’s Ferrari, earning him yet another second-place finish.
Standings after the Canadian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen extends his championship lead to 46 points after Montreal.
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing – 175 points
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing – 129 points
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – 125 points
- George Russell, Mercedes – 111 points
- Carlos Sainz, Ferrari – 102 points
Takeaways from the Canadian Grand Prix
- Ferrari must shape up if they want to fight for this championship.
- Red Bull’s straight-line speed is almost unbeatable.
- Mercedes’ recovery from Baku may be a sign of what’s to come.