Red Bull’s Max Verstappen extended his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings after holding off the challenge of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to win Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
Reigning F1 world champion Verstappen (1/6 – Drivers’ Championship Outright) dominated throughout the weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but he was made to work hard for the race victory, as a late safety car meant he was forced to hold off a strong challenge from Sainz during the final 15 laps.
Sainz had the benefit of slightly newer tyres and remained within a second of Verstappen during the closing stages, but was unable to pass the Dutchman, who showed plenty of skill to hold off the challenger.
The victory is Verstappen’s sixth in nine races this season and has seen him extend his lead at the top of the standings to 46 points over team-mate Sergio Perez, who was forced to retire from Sunday’s race due to an engine problem.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Verstappen is currently in the form of his life and will take some overhauling if he can maintain those standards (Red Bull – 3/10 Constructors’ Championship Outright).
“Max is in the form of his life and the team are doing a great job,” Horner said, as per Sky Sports. “All credit to Carlos, he pushed Max really, really hard. But Max was absolutely clinical; it was a really impressive drive.”
It was also a good day for Mercedes, as Lewis Hamilton, who had said on Friday his car was “undriveable”, was able to claim his first podium finish since the opening race of the season, while team-mate George Russell was close behind in fourth.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (5/1 – Drivers’ Championship Outright) recovered from starting at the back of the grid to finish fifth and he has now closed the gap to Perez back down to three points in the Drivers’ standings.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso had started second on the grid – his first front row appearance in 10 years – but technical issues and a questionable team strategy saw him end the race in seventh, a place behind team-mate Esteban Ocon.
Things got worse for Alonso after the race, as he was handed a five-second penalty for weaving on the track, which saw him drop a further two places to ninth behind Alfa Romeo duo Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.
The Formula 1 season now heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix early in July, a race that Hamilton has won three times in a row and in seven of the last eight years.