Photo: Red Bull Media House

F1 Canadian GP: Verstappen wins to equal Senna’s win tally

Max Verstappen has won the Canadian Grand Prix!

The Dutch driver has taken his sixth victory of the season, to equal Ayrton Senna’s win tally and give his team their 100th Formula One race win.

It was a great getaway from polesitter Verstappen who led into turn one, followed by Lewis Hamilton who took second place away from Fernando Alonso. A few corners later, there was drama when Sérgio Perez battled Carlos Sainz, the latter eventually taking the 11th place down the back straight. With the majority of the grid setting off on medium tyres, it was a bitter battle from top to bottom.

The front four of Verstappen, Hamilton, Alonso and George Russell were fast disappearing from fifth-placed Esteban Ocon, but Alonso was lucky to survive lap three after hitting the wall at turn four. Soon after, the Spaniard was battling with old nemesis Hamilton. The unluckiest of the beginning though was Williams driver Logan Sargent, who caused a virtual safety car following a mechanical issue; the American driver out of the race after lap seven.

On lap 13, the stewards threw the full safety car after Russell hit the wall at the chicane of turns eight and nine. The Brit told his team he was out of the race before pitting with damage and a puncture, but his team were able to repair his Mercedes so he could continue. The strategy calls came out thick and fast, with some teams opting to stay out during the safety car period, and others choosing to take a quicker pit stop. Both Ferraris and Pérez were three of those to take the first option. The SC then peeled into the pits with Verstappen leading the pack away ahead of Hamilton.

Hamilton, Alonso, Lando Norris and Alex Albon were the first drivers under the watch of the stewards following suspicions of unsafe releases during the SC period; Hamilton and Norris the main suspects. All escaped without penalty though. There were overtakes everywhere during the laps after, with Alonso finally taking back second place from Hamilton on lap 22. There was also an almighty battle in the lower points region, with both McLarens racing hard with Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen.

As the race approached half distance, leader Verstappen was complaining about the lack of grip on his hard tyres. After the rain hit the circuit all weekend long, the track was slippery and ‘green’ for the drivers who struggled to warm their tyres up during the 70 laps. This was proven after Nyck de Vries and Magnussen out-braked each other and went straight on at turn three. On lap 38, Norris received a five-second time penalty for ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’ after driving unnecessarily slowly under the earlier safety car.

By lap 45, Russell had recovered back to the points positions after his earlier incident, with teammate Hamilton still playing a game of cat and mouse with Alonso. Both Ferraris were in in improved fourth and fifth positions, after a disappointing Saturday qualifying. Then, on lap 55, Russell’s impressive recovery drive came to an end when the Mercedes team asked him to retire the car. The issue was believed to be brake related, after the earlier crash.

As the remaining 18 drivers reached the latter stages of the race, the podium was all but confirmed with Verstappen eight seconds up the road from Alonso, who was still slowly being caught by Hamilton. Lando Norris finally made it past Bottas into ninth place and began building a gap to compensate for his time penalty. It all nearly fell apart for Verstappen who had a bit of a precarious wonder over the same chicane that caused Russell trouble, but the Dutchman kept it out of the wall.

As the drivers crossed the line, Verstappen made history by equalling Senna’s record, whilst Alex Albon finished in a very respectable seventh place for Williams, with Ocon, Lance Stroll and Bottas finishing off the points positions.

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