F1 Canadian Grand Prix Notes and Numbers: How Max Verstappen Took Control of Championship

·8 min read
Photo credit: Dan Mullan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dan Mullan - Getty Images

Max Verstappen took another giant stride toward retaining his Formula 1 title with victory in the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Autoweek rounds up the key talking points from from the F1 Canadian Grand Prix that saw Verstappen win for the sixth time. Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton completed the podium.

Verstappen left Montreal with a commanding 46-p0int lead in the championship over his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

How Verstappen Picked Up Season Win No. 6

Max Verstappen’s sixth victory of the season, and his fifth from the last six events, was relatively straightforward, if not ultimately comfortable, and it gives him a commanding buffer in the world championship.

Verstappen and main challenger Carlos Sainz had slightly offset two-stop strategies and the Ferrari driver remained within DRS during the closing stages, but was never close enough to seriously challenge Verstappen. The reigning champ remained cool and collected despite losing radio communication with the pit wall partway through the race.

Photo credit: Clive Mason - Getty Images
Photo credit: Clive Mason - Getty Images

Teammate Sergio Perez retired early due to a sudden loss of power, which means Verstappen’s lead now sits at a fairly comfortable 46 points, effectively almost two races clear of the opposition after nine of 22.

“It’s still a very long way, and I know course the gap is quite big, but we know it can switch around very quickly. Race 3 I was 46 behind, so we just need to stay calm, we need to focus, we need to improve as today we were not the quickest. It swings a bit. Last weekend it looked good in the race, now it didn’t look as good but we still managed to win and I think that is also a quality.”

For Sainz it was his 11th career podium but his wait to stand on the top step of it goes on.

“It was a tough intense battle with Max, I think I had five to six laps fresher tires but to overtake him you need more than those two or three tenths (advantage Sainz had),” he said. “I gave it all, was risking everything, close to the wall, got close enough a couple of times but not close enough to throw a move down the inside anywhere, but I was pushing.”

Photo credit: Dan Istitene - Formula 1 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dan Istitene - Formula 1 - Getty Images

Hamilton Back on the Podium

Lewis Hamilton has had a rough run of races but he returned to the podium in Canada, 15 years after his maiden victory at the same venue. Hamilton qualified fourth but overhauled Fernando Alonso to have a relatively lonely run to third spot, which marked his first podium since the season-opening round in Bahrain.

“It’s given me and the team a lot of hope that there is more to come from this car,” said Hamilton. “The potential is truly there if we can get the set-up right. I think that’s been the most difficult thing this year, trying to optimize the set-up window. For this car, it’s much, much smaller than any other car we’ve experienced. I’ve not been on the podium for a long time! Especially as I had my first win here 15 years ago, to be back up there and get to experience the energy from the crowd, it was very reminiscent of that first year here. I’m so, so happy with it.

Hamilton was in a downbeat mood after Friday practice, in which he ran experimental components as part of Mercedes’ long-term bid to understand the W13, but the performance was significantly better come Sunday.

“We tried two different avenues and the avenue I went down was dreadful,” said Hamilton on Friday’s lack of pace. “We collated all the data we had and we made drastic changes to the set-up and it was much, much, much nicer—more in line with what it anticipated. It was good, when you get a full race distance in you find a lot of things out about the car and the relationship you have with the car and data, so there’s a lot to take from today. One really great thing is we’ve got really good reliability, which I think is a real tribute to all the great work all the team are doing at both factories.

“I really hope moving to Silverstone, it’s such an important race for us, and for me. I just want to be in a battle with these guys.”

Photo credit: Clive Mason - Getty Images
Photo credit: Clive Mason - Getty Images

Leclerc Now Down 49 Points, Not Giving Up

Charles Leclerc’s title ambitions ebbed further away in Canada despite a strong drive. Leclerc started from 19th after taking an engine penalty, but remained patient throughout the race to eventually rise to fifth.

However he is now third in the championship, 49 points behind Verstappen, after having been 46 in front after the Australian Grand Prix. When asked post-race whether he can turn around that deficit Leclerc swiftly replied: “Yes, yes. I think reliability seems to be a concern for everyone this season. If we fix our reliability the performance is there to come back so already from Silverstone we will try to get a few points back.”

Leclerc’s pre-race target was to finish in the top four but he was sanguine despite missing out by one place.

“I think unfortunately with the [slow] pit stop it put us a bit in a bad situation as we cleared the DRS train then got another DRS train and it cost me a bit at the end,” he said. “Overall it was a race I had to be patient, at the beginning I was stuck in a DRS train then I was stuck behind Esteban [Ocon] who had new tyres and was very good at turn 10, whenever I had free air I think pace was really good but it’s like this.”

Alonso Falls From Front Row to Finish Ninth

Fernando Alonso labelled his own performance as “unbelievable” after falling from the front row to seventh, pointing to an engine issue. Alonso had run among the podium positions during the early stages but the apparent problem relegated him away from contention for the trophies and instead he came home in seventh place, one spot behind teammate Esteban Ocon.

“We had an engine problem on lap 20 where we cut the energy very early on the straights, as soon as we exited the corners,” he said. “We tried to fix it but it didn’t work. Luckily we didn’t retire the car and we still score a few points, but until that point I think we were fighting for the podium at the beginning of the race. Then when the engine problem came, it was just trying to survive, trying to get the DRS, driving kamikaze in the corners before the detection because the DRS was my only safety on the straights after that.”

Alonso added that his car “was flying this weekend” and had “a one-second deficit on the straights and was still quicker (than Ocon) in the race,” outlining “it’s unbelievable to finish P7. It’s another reliability issue on car 14 only. That’s disappointing. Reliability on car 14 should be a little better.”

Alonso was later assessed a five-second time penalty for weaving while defending against Valtteri Bottas, demoting him to ninth.

Haas Goes From Row 3 to Nowhere

Haas started the day locking out row three of the grid but concluded it with one car last of the 17 finishes and the other one of those non-finishers. It was the worst case scenario and Haas unfortunately grabbed it with both hands. Kevin Magnussen’s prospects from fifth unravelled after he sustained minor front wing endplate damage on the opening lap and was instructed by Race Control to pit for repairs. That left him at the back, and out of sequence with other drivers, and his hopes were dashed. Magnussen was understandably irritated at the outcome.

“The front wing was safe, it was not broken off,” he said. “Think back to Jeddah last year, Lewis Hamilton won the race with half a front wing… which I think is correct, you know, let us race if we can. Feels like suddenly very different. Monaco they don’t start us because it starts drizzling. Here I’m called in because I have a scratch on my front wing.”

Mick Schumacher preserved seventh through the opening stint but was forced out due to a power unit issue.

“I feel like we built the cake but we just didn’t get to put the frosting on it,” he said.

Lance Stroll’s point meant Aston Martin moved ahead of Haas, demoting the US team to ninth.

F1 Canadian Grand Prix

Results

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 70 laps

  2. Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, +0.993 second

  3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +7.006

  4. George Russell, Mercedes, +12.313

  5. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +15.168

  6. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, +23.890

  7. Valtteri Bottas, AlphaTauri, +25.247

  8. Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo, +26.952

  9. *Fernando Alonso, Alpine, +29.945

  10. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +38.222

  11. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +43.047

  12. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, +44.245

  13. Alexander Albon, Williams, +44.893

  14. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +45.183

  15. Lando Norris, McLaren, +52.145

  16. Nicholas Latifi, Williams, +59.978

  17. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:08.180

  18. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, -23 laps

  19. Mick Schumacher, Haas, -52 laps

  20. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, -63 laps

*Includeds 5-second penalty.