Max’s Montreal

With Leclerc at the back of the grid following an engine penalty and Pérez unusually mired down in 13th after a qualifying crash, the aim for Verstappen was as clear the Montreal skies that finally bathed the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in summer sun on race day – convert pole to his 26th F1 win and hope, for his title chances, that Leclerc in particular could only make limited headway from the very back.

The reigning world champion ticked the first box, at first emphatically. Then, as so often happens at the Canadian Grand Prix, a wrinkle; a safety car caused by a crash for Scuderia AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda saw the race paused, and a 70-lap marathon turned into a 15-lap sprint to the finish, Verstappen holding the lead, but Ferrari rival Carlos Sainz lurking ominously behind on tyres that were six laps younger.

With the tension mounting, Verstappen kept his cool and kept Sainz in his mirrors lap after lap as the Spaniard closed up to the back of the RB18 as the duo thundered down the back straight to the final chicane. It wasn’t until the final lap that Verstappen could finally exhale, and while the victory margin was a miniscule 0.993 seconds at the end, it was enough for Red Bull’s sixth successive victory, the team’s longest streak in nine years rolling on.

Sainz took the fifth second place of his career, again tantalisingly close to his first F1 win, while the podium was rounded out by a resurgent Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes man strong at the site of his first F1 victory way back in 2007.

Leclerc, consigned to a rear-of-grid start because of an engine penalty, recovered to fifth, while an unfortunate early retirement for Pérez saw Verstappen increase his series lead to a whopping 46 points with 12 rounds of the 21-race season still to run.

Here’s how F1’s return to Canada after a three-year absence played out on Sunday.

“Overall they (Ferrari) were very quick in the race… it was really exciting at the end and I was giving it everything I had. Carlos was doing the same. It’s hard to follow around here but I could see he was pushing, charging… the last few laps were a lot of fun.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A522 at the start of the race. 19.06.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com

“Luckily we seem pretty quick this year on the straights, so that really helps a lot. I would have preferred attacking instead of defending, but it worked out.”

Tsunoda provided, inadvertently, the one headline for Scuderia AlphaTauri on Sunday when he crashed coming out of the pits in his debut at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the resultant safety car setting up the grandstand finish.

The Japanese driver used a long first stint of the race after starting from the very back of the grid alongside Leclerc as he took his own engine penalty to edge his way into the top 10, but failed to score for the third race running as one of the three drivers who failed to see the chequered flag.

Formula One heads back to where it all began for the next round of the 2022 season at the British Grand Prix (July 3), the Silverstone Circuit hosting the first of (so far) 1066 world championship Grands Prix way back on May 13, 1950.

Also a long time ago? The last time Red Bull sprayed the British GP victory champagne at the famous old World War II airfield, Mark Webber the most recent winner for the team back in 2012.

Verstappen, in particular, will be keen for redemption after his controversial early-race clash with Hamilton a year ago; Max won an F1 race at Silverstone before, but that was the one-off 70th Anniversary Grand Prix held in 2020 as part of a hastily re-arranged pandemic-curtailed calendar. He did triumph in the Sprint Race at Silverstone a year ago and, with it, earned his first British GP pole.

Pérez has a Silverstone record that’s more modest: the Mexican was 16th last year after an early-race spin dropped him to the back in the Sprint, while he missed both races at the circuit in 2020. Sixth for Force India back in 2016 is his best return in 10 starts to date.

Source Red Bull Magazine