F1 Canadian GP Notebook: Verstappen Earns Win In Wet/Dry Race

f1 grand prix of canada
Verstappen Earns The Win In F1 Canadian GPMark Thompson - Getty Images

World Champion Max Verstappen reasserted his authority on the pack during an enthralling wet/dry Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix Sunday, in which Lando Norris and George Russell both had a chance to win, while Sergio Perez and Ferrari suffered a dismal weekend. Autoweek delves into the key talking points from Montreal.

Verstappen Remains Calm Amid Tricky Conditions

There were three drivers realistically in contention for victory in a wet/dry race in Canada, and it was Max Verstappen who wound up triumphant, as chances for George Russell and Lando Norris slipped away. A rain shower prior to the race soaked the track and it was Russell who led away from pole position, followed by Verstappen, with Norris slotting into third.

Formula 1

Verstappen shadowed Russell but as the circuit went from wet to damp it was Norris who came to the fore, sweeping past the erstwhile leaders across successive laps, prior to rapidly opening a seven-second lead shortly before Logan Sargeant crashed out. That brought out the safety car and Norris did not pit, while his rivals behind all dived in for fresh intermediate tires, before he came in next time around. Norris shook out in third spot, behind Verstappen and Russell, and from there the reigning World Champion controlled proceedings through the transition onto slick tires. Norris and Russell traded places a couple of times for second spot before the McLaren driver cemented the position, by which time Verstappen had built a buffer that he would not relinquish.


A late safety car phase provided a sniff of an opportunity for Verstappen’s rivals, but that hope was firmly extinguished when he pulled out a 1.8-second advantage on the restart lap. Verstappen’s win – at a circuit that was towards the weaker end of the scale for the RB20 – was his sixth of the season, and third in a row in Canada, and he stretched his title lead to a comfortable 56 points.

“It’s very rewarding,” Verstappen said of the win, his 60th in Formula 1. “I mean, it’s never an easy race. It’s easy to make mistakes, especially on the Inters when they were almost becoming slicks. You know, it was very easy to go off because the track was drying in most places, but in some corners it was still a bit too wet to go to slick tires. It’s a lot of fun to drive these kind of races now and then. You don’t want it all the time because that’s too stressful, but I had a lot of fun out there today.”

Norris conceded that he and McLaren dropped the ball during the first safety car period.

“We should have won the race today and we didn’t,” Norris said. “We didn’t do a good job as a team to box, what we should have done, and not get stuck behind the safety car. So I don’t think it was a luck or unlucky kind of thing. This was just making a wrong call. So it’s on me and it’s on the team and it’s something we’ll discuss after. But we should have won today. I think we’re at a level now where we’re not satisfied with the second, like the target is to win. And we didn’t do that.”

Early leader Russell was also left slightly disappointed by third – despite it being his and Mercedes’ first podium of the season – but was encouraged by the team’s progress.

“I really think our performance step is true and it’s real,” Russell said. “And I think we can be in this fight with McLaren. Let’s hope we can continue being in the fight with Max.”

f1 grand prix of canada
Perez started from 16th place, made no in-roads in the race as he tootled around in 15th spot, before spinning into the wall at Turn 6 after 51 of 70 laps.Rudy Carezzevoli - Getty Images

A Painful Weekend For Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez at least has the assurance of job security, following the announcement earlier this week that Red Bull has extended his contract through 2026 – even if Christian Horner let slip that it is a one plus one deal.

That’s because Perez followed up a dire Monaco weekend with an even more dismal display in Canada, his predicament exacerbated by the race-winning performance put in by teammate Verstappen.

Perez started from 16th place, made no in-roads in the race as he tootled around in 15th spot, before spinning into the wall at Turn 6 after 51 of 70 laps.

“I did a mistake going into Turn 6, touched the wet patch and once you do that it’s game over,” Perez said. “A very tough weekend, but I think there is a long season ahead and we will be back to our form we had earlier.”

There are echoes of Perez’s 2023 slump in his 2024 results as a bright start has been followed by a spate of awful results. Perez has to regroup as Red Bull needs its second car performing – and scoring – amid the renewed threat from its opponents.

f1 grand prix of canada

Ricciardo Impresses In The Midpack

Daniel Ricciardo put in his best performance of the season so far – when it was much needed – to pick up his first top 10 result in a grand prix.

Ricciardo has delivered the standout grid spots – two fourths (one in a Sprint Qualifying) and a fifth – since his comeback, appearing to extract more when the car is more competitive, while Tsunoda has been the more consistently impressive performer. In one swoop it indicates why Red Bull’s hierarchy have persevered with Ricciardo, convinced the driver of old is still there, while also keeping Tsunoda at RB rather than pitch him alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull Racing.

In the race Ricciardo got jumped by the faster Lewis Hamilton and Aston Martin drivers but kept his nose clean to score eighth place – the best result on offer – and collect four points, gaining one spot when teammate Tsunoda made a rare 2024 error and spun out of a points-paying position.

Ricciardo is the only driver within the Red Bull stable not to have his 2025 plans sorted. A few more weekends like this and his case to stay will grow stronger.

f1 grand prix of canada
Ocon started last but surged up the order after not pitting for fresh Intermediate tires under the safety car period, bagging himself a net ninth spot once the entire field cycled through for slick tires.Clive Rose - Getty Images

Alpine Gets Double Points But Leaves Ocon Angry

Alpine capitalized on the incidents that befell some of the usual frontrunners to sneak both cars into the top 10, with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon pocketing the final points on offer.

But Ocon was left angered after he was instructed to let Gasly though in the closing stages.

Ocon started last but surged up the order after not pitting for fresh Intermediate tires under the safety car period, bagging himself a net ninth spot once the entire field cycled through for slick tires. On lap 68 of 70 Ocon received an instruction to allow Gasly through for a chance of attacking Ricciardo, who was two seconds up the road, and Ocon duly obliged, believing the positions would be swapped if Gasly was unsuccessful. But with the Haas drivers hounding the Alpine pair across the last lap Gasly and Ocon did not swap back, with Gasly crossing the line ninth, and Ocon 10th.

Alpine briefed post-race that Ocon was suffering an energy management problem, explaining the reasoning for putting Gasly ahead, and affirmed that the proximity of the Haas pair was why Gasly was not asked to let Ocon back through. But Ocon, whose departure from Alpine after 2024 was announced this week, was unimpressed.

“Not the happiest,” Ocon said. “Obviously we started last and got to the points with both cars, which is amazing, but I did my part of the job, being the team player, being the nice guy, too nice, but yeah, I had to let Pierre go at the end, which I’ve done. I’ve always followed the instructions I’ve been given, but for no reason really because we were not going to catch Daniel, and that was the reason for the call, and I’m losing a point there. Being too nice is not the right attitude to have in Formula 1 but I showed that I’m a team player and that’s what matters.”