An Action Packed Canadian GP

Verstappen came out on top in a race that saw changing weather conditions, lots of incidents, close racing and interesting strategies. 

With the track drenched just an hour before the race start, the spray looked bad as the drivers made their way to the grid, but it dried up enough for a normal standing start on intermediates, or full wets if you are driving a Haas.

Starting in the wet. Image courtesy of RedBull content pool

Lights out and the slowest getaway we have seen this season as they made it down to turn one without colliding. Russell managed to pick up pace out of turn two and kept the lead from Verstappen. Hamilton made up places but the Ferrari’s struggled, with Sainz ending up down in P15 at the end of lap 2.

Haas looked to have played a great strategy game, with Magnussen and Hulkenberg making it to P4 and P8 by lap 5. However, it wasn’t to last as the sun came out and the track started to dry making the inters the best tyres to be on.

As Norris closed the gap on Russell and Verstappen, the conversation began to turn to the forecast. Rain was expected about lap 30 but the track was drying in sectors two and three. Turns one and two were still wet though, Verstappen experiencing a wide moment on lap 17 which allowed Norris to position his car ready for a move.

The McLarens looked quick in the wet so when DRS was enabled, Norris was able to enhance his pace. On lap 21 he made a move on Verstappen into P2, just one lap later he passed Russell for the lead. As he completed the same move Russell lost downforce and went straight on at the final chicane, letting Verstappen through and coming back to the track in P3. Piastri looked to be following his teammate as he closed the gap on the front three. However, the safety car stopped his progress.

The safety car. Image courtesy of RedBull content pool

Sargent dropped it on the inside of turn four and hit the wall on the exit, causing his car to become stranded. This brought out the safety car on lap 25. With rain due in just a couple of minutes, most of the top ten pitted for new inters, apart from Norris. He was too far past the pitlane entry as the safety car came out. This meant that when he did pit a lap later, he came out in P3 with Verstappen leading the race.

Just before the end of the safety car period, Ferrari pitted Leclerc for a change of tyres. However, they put him on the slicks—hard tyres to be more precise—despite rain due imminently. He also had a known engine issue, which caused further delay in the car leaving the pitbox. It was not a surprise when he pitted just 2 laps after the restart for inters.

The restart got away with no issues as they behaved themselves, knowing more rain was on the way. A shout out to Albon, who made an incredible double overtake on Ricciardo and Ocon at the final chicane.

The rain stopped, the sun came out, and the dry line started to form. But for Ferrari, when it rains, it pours. On lap 42, Sainz made contact with the back of Bottas, which caused front wing damage, while the team called in Leclerc to retire the car.

Norris taking on the drying track. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

On lap 43 it was time to switch to slicks, Gasly was the first car in, followed by Magnussen and Bottas. Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit for medium tyres. It wasn’t long before the rest of the grid was in, apart from Norris again. This time, the team decided to see what the other teams would do.

Norris stayed out and took the lead, meaning he now had a pit stop in hand over second place Verstappen. Despite this, Norris pitted one lap later, but Verstappen and Russell now had warmer tyres and were on the dry line, while Norris had to tiptoe out of the still extremely wet pitlane, ending up in P2.

All seemed calm for a couple of laps when a yellow flag appeared and disappeared again. The camera switched to Perez, who now had a very broken rear wing. He dropped his rear right tyre out of the dry line at turn six and spun into the wall. He was able to get back to the pits but retired the car.

However, a safety car was called, but not for Perez. Sainz dropped it on the same corner but managed to avoid the wall. He spun in the middle of the track and collected Albon in the process, pushing him into the wall. A double DNF for Williams and a double DNF for Ferrari as Sainz drove to the pits and retired.

Both Mercedes with fresh tyres. Image courtesy of Mercedes Benz

On the restart, both Mercedes had fresh tyres in an aggressive strategy, but everyone got away in order. The race was now dry, with no more rain on the way. This enabled a five-way battle for the lead.

Russell closed in on Piastri in P3, and using DRS, he was alongside into the final chicane, but there was not enough room for both cars. It was very close, and Russell went wide, allowing his teammate through. Hamilton made a clean move on Piastri the following lap, giving Russell a second chance, but this time with no issues.

With only 3 laps to go, the Mercedes were allowed to race each other, with Russell making it up into P3 with a nice move using DRS. It remained close between the pair all the way to the line but Russell held on.

He wasn’t the only one holding on with Gasly, Ocon, Magnussen and Hulkenberg fighting all the way to the line for the final two points positions. The Alpines finished P9 and P10 with the Haas cars in P11 and P12, respectively.

Verstappen controlled the final few laps to take the win, with Norris in P2. It was a fantastic race with action at every point. Three teams finished in the top five, Aston Martin with a double top ten finish and battles on every lap.

The podium celebrations. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media
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