Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen takes tense Victory ahead of Sainz.

Featured Image Credit: @F1 Official Twitter

Max Verstappen withstood huge pressure in Canada to take another victory. Carlos Sainz almost took his maiden F1 win, but had to settle for 2nd. Hamilton takes an impressive 3rd ahead of Russell.

After the fascinating qualifying session from yesterday, expectations were high. A very mixed up grid, with Alonso on the front row for the first time in almost 10 years.

Verstappen’s rapid Race start

Verstappen got the better start off the line, Alonso was able to maintain 2nd, while Sainz came under attack from Hamilton. Magnussen’s lightning start almost allowed him to take 4th, but slight contact with Hamilton gave him light damage on his front wing. Russell was able to leapfrog Schumacher into the chicane, while Leclerc climbed 2 places from the back of the grid.

Verstappen was able to get 1.5s ahead of Alonso by the end of lap 2, the Alpine threat was starting to calm. A lap later, Sainz breezed past on the back straight to take 2nd. Alonso picked up the DRS from Sainz, so could keep Hamilton at bay.

Magnussen was starting to lose time and soon Russell was able to make the move to 4th. Matters were soon made worse for the Haas as he was given the black and orange flag for his damaged car. Gasly and Vettel made early stops, presumably for strategy.

The leading cars were now starting to take it easy as the time lost between a 2 stop and a 1 stop was minimal. Alonso was told to stick in Sainz’s DRS and the Ferrari was starting to chip away at Verstappen’s lead.

On lap 8, the cameras cut to a slow moving Red Bull. Perez ground to a hault just outside sector 3 and his bad weekend came to a close.

The Virtual safety car was called, neutralising the race. Verstappen jumped into the pits, as well as Hamilton. The cars were attempting to make the most of a ‘cheap’ pitstop. Verstappen only dropped to 3rd, behind Sainz and Alonso. Only 6s covered the top 3. Hamilton was now 6th. But jumped Ocon for 5th almost immediately after the VSC.

Alonso was losing time to Sainz in front and Verstappen was closing fast. Verstappen had a very simple DRS overtake on lap 15, he was back in the top 2.

Leclerc had been making good progress from the back of the grid, but was stuck in 12th, behind Albon and Bottas. The Ferrari was close, but it’s exit speed from the corners just wasn’t good enough. Bottas was eventually able to move past the Williams, this gave Leclerc the opportunity to jump past.

Second Virtual Safety Car

In exactly the same place as Perez, Schumacher’s Haas stopped. A painful end to such a good start to the weekend. Russell made the most of the newest VSC situation and pitted, only losing 1 place in the process. Norris suffered a very slow stop, after McLaren had a tyre mixup after a stacked stop.

Sainz also dived into the pits from the lead. He came out just infront of Hamilton in 4th, only 9s behind the new leader, Verstappen. Alonso, in 2nd, did not pit. Lap 22 saw Sainz retaking 2nd place, still 9s behind the leader. A lap later, Hamilton was also past. After 2 VSCs, Alpine’s strategy was a huge gamble.

Leclerc’s comeback drive had now placed him behind Ocon in 6th. Leclerc was yet to stop, but was storming on the hard compound tyre.

On lap 29, Alonso finally came into the pits. He looked comitted to the 1 stop strategy and the Alpine came out just behind the Ocon and Leclerc battle.

The race plateaued during the middle. Most cars were attempting to preserve their tyres. Verstappen was reporting graining on his hards, only 26 laps after bolting them on.

A fascinating battle was brewing for 9th, as Stroll lead Zhou, Tsunoda and Ricciardo. The following cars each had DRS, but Stroll’s straight line speed made him the cork in the bottle. Soon, Vettel closed, causing a huge DRS chain.

Latifi’s miserable race was made worse as he almost left the pits with an unattached wheel. After his slow stop, he was a dead last.

Leclerc’s frustation behind Ocon was getting worse. Soon, Alonso was catching, so the Ferrari dived into the pits on lap 42. Yet another slow stop. He was now a part of the huge DRS chain for 9th. A regular stop would have put him cleanly in front. However, Leclerc made great progress and he was back in the top 10 only a few laps later.

Verstappen took his second stop on lap 44, he exited wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton and the Mercedes won out, keeping 2nd. This would be very temporary, however, as Hamilton took to the pits a lap later. Russell came into the pits shortly after, with only a 6s gap between the Mercedes drivers.

Ferrari strategy was now under scrutiny. Sainz had the lead, but his tyres were 25 laps older than Verstappen. With another 25 to go, would they pit, or attempt to stay out? There was a 9s gap, but the correct strategy was not obvious.

Full Safety Car

But then, on lap 49, the cameras cut to Tsunoda’s Alpha Tauri buried in the barriers. His cold tyres locked up out of the pits and he went straight on out of the exit. This led to the safety car that Sainz had been praying for. The Spaniard went straight into the pits and would now be 2nd, with a slight tyre advantage (6 laps fresher). Both Alpines took a stop, as well as Bottas. Both in strong midfield positions. However, the Alpines took the Medium tyre. The softest in the top 6.

The safety car came in with 15 laps to go.

Verstappen did not get a significant lead as the SC pulled away. It would be crucial for Sainz to stay within 1s for the DRS. However, Verstappen’s opening lap put him right on the cusp of DRS territory. The top 10 were only separated by 6.8s as the DRS was re-activated.

As the DRS was switched back on, Sainz set the fastest lap of the race. He was well within DRS and was now attacking Verstappen. Meanwhile, the other Ferrari was making headway, taking Alonso for 6th. A lap later, he was briefly infront of Ocon, but cut the corner, returning the place.

10 laps to go and Sainz was still running nose to tail with Verstappen. The Red Bull’s straight line speed was helping, but the Ferrari was looking fiesty. Sainz attempted to recover energy for an attack, but he was briefly out of Verstappen’s DRS. He was able to climb back in, but time was now running out.

Alonso was now struggling with engine issues, he was hanging on to 7th, but he was starting to lose time. Somehow, he managed to hold on, but Zhou still managed to keep an impressive points finish, only his 2nd top 10 in Formula 1.

With 5 laps to go, the gap between the top 2 was only 0.5s, but Verstappen was holding the lead well. Sainz was extremly close throughout the closing stage of the race, but it just wasn’t enough as Versdtappen took a controlled victory. Hamilton made it back on to the podium, despite calling his Mercedes ‘the worst car he’s ever driven’. Russell finished 4th, ahead of Leclerc, who had a stunning recovery drive.

Full Race Results:

  1. Verstappen
  2. Sainz +0.993
  3. Hamilton +7.006
  4. Russell +12.313
  5. Leclerc +15.168
  6. Ocon +23.890
  7. Alonso +24.945
  8. Bottas +24.247
  9. Zhou +26.952
  10. Stroll +38.222
  11. Ricciardo +43.047
  12. Vettel +44.245
  13. Albon +44.893
  14. Gasly +45.183
  15. Norris +52.145
  16. Latifi +59.978
  17. Magnussen +68.180
  18. Tsunoda RET
  19. Schumacher RET
  20. Perez RET

Featured Image Credit: @F1 Official Twitter













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