Super Max Conquers Montreal
Formula 1 crossed the Atlantic Ocean again, visiting Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix at the ever-popular Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Max Verstappen and Red Bull come to Montreal hoping to stretch their lead in the championships while the rest of the field of drivers try to finish as high as possible in their respective battles. Montreal is synonymous with an incredible nightlife and cultural scene. Fans worldwide and F1 drivers love the city and the track named after Gilles Villeneuve. The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the faster circuits on the way, which pushes drivers to the limit providing fans with an entertaining product on the track. Will Verstappen dominate yet another race, or will we have a new face on top of the podium in Montreal?
Friday’s practice sessions were marred with torrential downfalls forcing delays, stoppages, and an extended FP2 session. The weather did not change on Saturday, and drivers struggled to keep their cars on track during the third practice session. Carlos Sainz forced a red flag after losing control of his Ferrari and colliding with a barrier damaging his car. By the time qualifying, the rain had subsided slightly, allowing drivers to use intermediate tires to manage the rain-soaked track during Q1. Ferrari made severe errors on the pit wall, not reacting to Charles Leclerc’s request for soft tires because of the quickly drying track. The team left intermediates on his Ferrari, leading to Leclerc failing to make it to the third qualifying session. The rain’s reprieve did not last too long and began to soak the track again, creating difficulties for the drivers. Verstappen dominated in the wet as he usually does, claiming the 25th pole position of his career, setting himself up for another race win, this time in Canada. While the other drivers attempted to catch the Dutchman, Oscar Piastri and his McLaren spun out, crashing into the barriers and forcing a red flag ending qualifying. Niko Hulkenberg and his HAAS crossed the finish line before the red flag was waved, landing him in second place. Following him, third, was Fernando Alonso and his Aston Martin. The Canadian Grand was developing an exciting story with HAAS at the front of the grid, but that would not last long.
HAAS had reason to celebrate after qualifying in second place. However, that would be short-lived because the stewards issued a three-place grid penalty to Hulkenberg for excessive speeding during a red flag after his fast lap was completed. HAAS went from second to fifth. Sainz and Ferrari also received a grid penalty for impeding other drivers, which sent the Spaniard from 6th to 11th for the start of the race. The starting grid was finally set as this: P1 Verstappen P2 Alonso P3 Hamilton P4 Russel P5 Hulkenberg P6 Ocon P7 Norris P8 Piastri P9 Albon P10 Leclerc.
The weather on Sunday in Montreal was overcast, with a slight chance of rain, starkly contrasting to the previous two days leading up to the Canadian Grand Prix. The grid was set after the formation lap, and the Verstappen roared to a quick start holding on to the pole position and the race’s lead. Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes took advantage of Alonso, who did not react quickly enough, conceding second place to his former rival of years past. Sainz and Perez battled for position, providing a great battle replicated along the track, with the other drivers all vying to improve their positions. An excellent start to the race without any crashes in the opening laps filled with action. By Lap 5, Verstappen led 1.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton in second and Alonso chasing the Brit in third. Alonso seemed possessed, hunting Hamilton down Hamilton slowly but surely. On Lap 8, a virtual safety car was needed after Logan Sargeant and his Williams were forced out of the race, which did not affect the standings.
On Lap 12, Russel collided with the wall damaging the rear of his Mercedes, forcing a safety car, and triggering pit stops. Alonso nearly collided with Hamilton, who seemingly was released dangerously in the pitlane. Russel damage was not significant enough to end his race limping to the pit lane for repairs landing him at the back of the grid but still racing. The safety car was withdrawn on Lap 17. The safety left the track with the whole field tightly packed up, and Alonso had his sights on Hamilton and second place. Verstappen pulled away cleanly and resumed to lead the race. On Lap 22, Alonso completed his quest for second place, passing Hamilton effortlessly.
The race settled at the front of the grid, but that did not mean the rest of the field was not battling for position. On Lap 35, Tsunoda and Magnussen tangled and ended up off-track, but both drivers could return to the race. Verstappen continued to lead the race with nearly a six-second lead.
With 30 laps left to race, the race standings were P1 Verstappen, P2 Alonso, P3 Hamilton, P4 Leclerc, P5 Sainz, P6 Perez, P7 Albon, P8 Russel, P9 Ocon, P10 Bottas.
A second round of pitstops led to Hamilton eating up the track looking to hunt down Alonso in second place, who opted for hard tires. Both Verstappen and Hamilton elected Medium tires, creating an exciting scenario for the end of the race.
Another Win for Red Bull
Verstappen was undeterred by the encroaching rivals in his rear-view mirrors as he went on to claim not only another victory at the Canadian Grand Prix but also the 41st win of his career, tying legendary Ayrton Senna for the most wins in F1 history. Alonso finished in second place, followed by Hamilton in third. Despite screwing up on Saturday, Ferrari finished in 4th with Leclerc, followed by his teammate Sainz in 5th. Red Bull’s Perez finished in 6th, and Williams witnessed a solid performance by Albon, giving the team 7th place. Ocon and his Alpin finished in 8th, followed by Lance Stroll in 9th and Bottas in his Alfa Romeo in 10th. Red Bull added an extra exclamation point to their claiming their 100th victory in Formula 1, making it clear they are one of the series’ best teams of all time.
The Canadian Grand Prix proved once again that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is a prime track for action, keeping fans on the edge of their seats throughout the race. Although Verstappen is on cruise control for his third consecutive driver’s championship, races like this will keep viewers intrigued. Formula 1 travels to the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix on July 2nd.
|1||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NETHERLANDS||RED BULL|
|2||FERNANDO ALONSO||SPAIN||ASTON MARTIN|
|5||CARLOS SAINZ JR||SPAIN||FERRARI|
|6||SERGIO PEREZ||MEXICO||RED BULL||1: 14.481|
|9||LANCE STROLL||CANADA||ASTON MARTIN|
|10||VALTERRI BOTTAS||FINLAND||ALFA ROMEO|
|14||YUKI TSUNODA||JAPAN||ALPHA TAURI|
|16||ZHOU GUANYU||CHINA||ALFA ROMEO|
|18||NICK DE VRIES||NETHERLANDS||ALPHA TAURI|
|RETIRED||GEORGE RUSSEL- LAP 53||BRITAIN||MERCEDES|
|RETIRED||LOGAN SARGEANT- LAP 6||UNITED STATES||WILLIAMS|