Verstappen Defeats Sainz at F1's Canadian Grand Prix

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc raced his way to 6th after starting from 19th due to power unit penalties

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Photo: Clive Mason (Getty Images)

The FIA Formula 1 World Championship has finally returned to Canada after three years away due to the pandemic. After an exciting wet qualifying session on Saturday, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won pole by seven-tenths of a second. In Q2, the reigning world champion was over a second faster than the rest of the field.

Surprisingly, Fernando Alonso qualified his Alpine on the front row alongside the leading Red Bull. Alonso was consistently one of the fastest drivers across all three qualifying segments. The two drivers pursuing Verstappen in the points standings had dreadful grid slots. His Red Bull teammate Sergio Pérez crashed in Q2 and qualified 13th. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was forced to start 19th, serving power unit component penalties.

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After qualifying, the two-time world champion joked and boasted that he would race Max Verstappen hard into the first corner. Alonso would never get the opportunity. Verstappen got more than a car length clear of the Spaniard at the clear. The cars at the front filed through the first two corners in starting order.

Alonso focus quickly turned rearward as he fought to remain in second and keep Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz behind him. By the time Sainz got around his compatriot on the third lap, the Ferrari driver was faced with a gap of over three seconds up the road to Verstappen in the lead.

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Early on, Red Bull would lose its other car. Sergio Pérez’s car seemingly suffered a gearbox failure. To take advantage of the virtual safety car deployment, Red Bull pitted Verstappen on lap 9 of 70. Ferrari was able to mimic its rival’s tactic when Mick Schumacher’s Haas failed on lap 20. Neither Sainz nor Verstappen fell far from the front due to pitting under controlled conditions.

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Verstappen held the lead until he made his second stop on lap 43. Sainz inherited first place, but he still needed to make one final stop to take his car to the finish safely.

Scuderia Ferrari gambled on a safety car coming out during the latter stages of the race to give Carlos Sainz a chance at winning the Grand Prix. The gamble paid off. Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda locked his tires while exiting pit lane and crashed into the Tecpro barriers. Though, Sainz didn’t have a large enough margin back to Verstappen to retain the lead.

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The race restarted on lap 55 with Sainz in second place with a slightly fresher set of hard compound tires compared to the leading Red Bull driver. Sainz’s Ferrari had nothing left to give as he could consistently stay within a second of Verstappen but could never get closer enough to attempt an overtake for the lead.

Max Verstappen comfortably won the Canadian Grand Prix ahead of Carlos Sainz. Mercedes-AMG Petronas secured both third and fourth after Alonso slumped through the field. Charles Leclerc was voted Driver of the Day after a heroic drive through the field to sixth place.

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Race Results - Top 10

  1. Max Verstappen
  2. Carlos Sainz
  3. Lewis Hamilton
  4. George Russell
  5. Esteban Ocon
  6. Charles Leclerc
  7. Fernando Alonso
  8. Valtteri Bottas
  9. Zhou Guanyu
  10. Lance Stroll

Max Verstappen now leads the World Drivers’ Championship by 36 points over Sergio Pérez. Formula 1 will return in two weeks for the British Grand Prix.