Saturday, April 20, 2024

Verstappen Takes Win at Canadian GP to Equal Senna’s Record

Max Verstappen took the win at the Canadian Grand Prix this afternoon by a big margin equaling Ayrton Senna’s win record and achieving Oracle Red Bull Racing’s one-hundredth win in Formula 1 ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen converted his impressive pole position into victory, leading all seventy laps and driving with confidence as ever, but the real interesting battle was between Alonso and Hamilton.

What Happened in the Race?

Verstappen stayed ahead at the race start, but it was Hamilton who got the best start. The seven-time World Champion got an excellent start and was ahead of Alonso going into turn one, with the Spaniard unable to defend the Briton.

Carlos Sainz Jr. and Sergio Pérez had a battle on the first lap, with the Spaniard and the Mexican swapping positions multiple times, but it was Sainz who came out on top, regaining the position at the end of lap one down the main straight.

Lap eight saw the first retirement already with Sargeant ordered to park his Williams at turn six, bringing out the virtual safety for a short period.

George Russell had a good start and was keeping pace with Hamilton and Alonso but a lapse in concentration saw him hit the wall on lap twelve, and cause some bad damage to his W14. Russell managed to get the car back to the pits and back out onto the circuit but the safety car was brought out to clear the debris that he left on the circuit. The top three, Verstappen, Hamilton and Alonso all took the opportunity to pit onto hard tyres, as many did. Charles Leclerc, Sainz and Pérez all stayed out as they looked to recover from their poor qualifying sessions.

Once the safety car came back into the pitlane, Alonso was all over the back of Hamilton and managed to get past the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team driver on lap twenty-three with the help of DRS.

Nyck de Vries and Kevin Magnussen had a moment at turn one, with the pair making contact, letting Russell through on his recovery drive. The pair continued to battle it out through turns two and three, while de Vries was ahead, he locked up into turn three making both himself and Magnussen go into the off-road and losing a bunch of time at the same time.

Sainz made a pit stop on lap thirty-nine after an impressive thirty-eight lap stint on medium tires. Leclerc followed suit on the next lap, and both drivers retained their positions despite criticism of Scuderia Ferrari’s decision not to pit during the safety car period on lap 9.

Hamilton, reacting to Ferrari’s move, pitted one lap later and switched to medium tires, prompting Aston Martin Armaco Cognizant F1 Team to pit Alonso on the following lap. Alonso’s stop involved getting fresh hard compound tires. Red Bull then responded by pitting and switching to medium tires, just like Hamilton. After returning to the track, Hamilton was trailing Alonso by under four seconds, with Hamilton himself just under six seconds ahead of Leclerc. Sainz closely followed his teammate at a distance of just over two seconds.

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

With thirteen laps remaining, Russell became the first driver to retire due to excessive brake wear, a well-known issue at this circuit.

Hamilton continued to close the gap on Alonso, and by lap sixty-one, the margin had reduced to just over a second. Pérez, on the other hand, struggled to keep up with the Ferraris and found himself in a lonely position between Sainz and a gap of over 20 seconds ahead of Alex Albon. Notably, Albon had an eventful race, opting for an exceptionally long stint on the hard compound tyres, and found himself in seventh place showcasing some good defending.

As Hamilton pushed hard, he briefly encountered some gravel on lap sixty-two, causing the gap to widen again to 2.2 seconds. Alonso responded by setting a personal best lap time, shortly after his engineer alerted him to the threat from behind. Things could have been much harder for Verstappen but it was later revealed that Alonso was managing an issue during the later stage of the race.

Verstappen was followed by Alonso and Hamilton on the podium. Ferrari rescued a good result, with Leclerc and Sainz in fourth and fifth respectively. Pérez had a good first stint but was again well off the pace of his teammate on the same tyre and in the same car, and ended up in sixth. Albon secured an impressive seventh place, defending Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas who rounded out the points position.

Oscar Piastri finished in eleventh, despite showing some good pace early on, ahead of Pierre Gasly. Lando Norris finished in the points but received a penalty of five seconds for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Yuki Tsunoda, Nico Hülkenberg, Guanyu Zhou, Magnussen and de Vries rounded out the final positions, with Russell and Logan Sargeant retiring early.

Alex Albon Takes the Headlines

Despite Verstappen winning, the real story of the day was Albon’s incredible race for Williams Racing. He reached Q3 in qualifying yesterday and started ninth on the grid following Sainz’s penalty. Despite both Ferrari drivers and Pérez getting past him, he managed to secure seventh, his highest finish for Williams.

He managed to defend a number of drivers, including Russell, despite them having DRS down the main straight. He managed to run a one-stop strategy with his only stop coming under the only safety car of the race on lap thirteen, nursing a set of hard tyres on an exceptionally long stint.

The Canadian Grand Prix will be one to remember for Albon and Williams with their recent struggles but potentially a starting point of being more competitive with Albon’s new upgrades clearly working. The Thai driver rightfully claimed the ‘Driver of the Day’ award and will go into the next race roaring with confidence.

What’s Up Next?

The Austrian Grand Prix is up next in the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship after a week’s break. The teams will aim to beat Verstappen as he looks to win yet another Grand Prix for Red Bull.

1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 70 1:33:58.348 25
2 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 70 +9.570s 18
3 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 70 +14.168s 15
4 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 70 +18.648s 12
5 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 70 +21.540s 10
6 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 70 +51.028s 9
7 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 70 +60.813s 6
8 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 70 +61.692s 4
9 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 70 +64.402s 2
10 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 70 +64.432s 1
11 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 70 +65.101s 0
12 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 70 +65.249s 0
13 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 70 +68.363s 0
14 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 70 +73.423s 0
15 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
16 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
17 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
18 Nyck De Vries ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 69 +1 lap 0
NC George Russell MERCEDES 53 DNF 0