Max Verstappen appears to be soaring towards his second drivers’ championship after repelling a late attack from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver took his sixth victory of the season to open up a 46-point gap over his team-mate Sergio Perez in the drivers’ standings, after the Mexican suffered a costly retirement due to a gearbox failure.
While there are 13 races to go, Charles Leclerc, who had looked like he might mount a challenge at a maiden championship, now needs the tide to drastically turn his way after a string of disappointing results.
Meanwhile, Mercedes could take optimism from Montreal as Lewis Hamilton claimed just his second podium of the season, with George Russell finishing fourth, in a race where they showed much improved pace.
After an eventful weekend, Sportsmail takes a look at seven things we learned from the Canadian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen’s sixth win of the season gives him a healthy 46-point lead at the top
The Dutchman held off Carlos Sainz for the win, with Lewis Hamilton returning to the podium
Verstappen is ice cold under pressure
Max Verstappen is driving with the confidence of a man who already has a drivers’ championship behind him.
What looked like a comfortable race suddenly sparked into life after a late safety car, with the Dutchman facing immense pressure for the win from his former Torro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Lap after lap, the Spaniard had DRS on the Red Bull driver, as he looked to force the championship leader into a mistake.
But Verstappen drove superbly to open up enough of a gap at the beginning of the lap, meaning Sainz was too far behind on the long straight heading into the final chicane, which was the prime overtaking opportunity.
Verstappen held off Sainz lap-after-lap to secure victory under immense pressure
There was once or twice where Sainz looked like he might try and a sneak a move down the inside but there was never any panic from Verstappen who made no mistake, when he could have so easily stuck his car in the ‘Wall of Champions’ on the exit of the final corner.
While Ferrari have thrown points away with mechanical issues and poor strategy calls, Red Bull have been relentless in their search of a second consecutive drivers’ championship.
The 24-year-old has a 49-point lead over Leclerc, who is third in the standings, and it would be hard to bet against Verstappen following the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to become a double world champion by the age of 25.
Leclerc slipping out of title contention
After the Australian Grand Prix in April, Charles Leclerc held a 46-point lead over Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings.
Since then there has been a mammoth 95-point swing in just six races – which has left the Monegasque driver with a huge deficit to the reigning world champion.
His retirement from the lead in Baku proved to be a double hit, as it cost him a chance of contending for the Canadian Grand Prix here, because he started from the rear following a grid penalty brought on by his DNF last week.
Charles Leclerc’s title charge is quickly slipping away with a 49-point gap to Verstappen
Leclerc recovered up to fifth place, but Ferrari didn’t make his charge through the field any easier as a slow pit-stop meant he rejoined behind Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo – costing him a lot of time.
In a race where team-mate Sainz just missed out on victory, Leclerc will see it as a missed opportunity given the advantage he has held over the Spaniard this season.
It meant more lost points to Verstappen – something which he can’t afford to happen much more this season.
Leclerc will hope better luck comes his way at the British Grand Prix, as he and Ferrari are getting to the stage where they will need their rivals to suffer some retirements to help get them back into contention.
Hamilton re-establishes himself as top dog at Mercedes
It’s been a hugely frustrating season for Lewis Hamilton who has not been in contention for victories and has seen new up-and-coming team-mate George Russell get the better of him this season.
There had been a point where Hamilton’s place in the Canadian Grand Prix was under threat, after his bruising weekend in Baku as he struggled with the porpoising of his Mercedes.
More concerns were raised when he said he ‘had never driven a car so bad’.
But if there was a track for Hamilton to find his form then it’s the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – where he won his first race in 2007, and has since won on another six occasions.
Hamilton was delighted to return to the podium after a difficult string of races with porpoising
Hamilton got one over Mercedes team-mate George Russell who finished in fourth position
He qualified in a respectable fourth before showing impressive pace during the race to achieve just his second podium finish of the season.
Hamilton will have particularly been optimistic after his excellent pace towards the end of the race, as he didn’t drop too far back on leaders Verstappen and Sainz after the final safety car – finishing just seven seconds back on the race-winner.
George Russell’s decision to put dry tyres on during qualifying on a damp track proved to be a poor one as he spun into the wall meaning he qualified just eighth.
He made light work of the slower cars ahead of him but did not have the pace to keep up with Hamilton.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Mercedes could ‘play a factor’ during the British Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
Porpoising issue far from over
Mercedes might have fared better off in Canada than they have in previous races, but the issue of porpoising won’t go away for a while.
George Russell, when asked whether porpoising is in the past, replied: ‘No, I think there are so many different factors.
‘The wind is a big factor, the bumpiness of a circuit. The revisions that the FIA brought this weekend, with that extra floor stay, did nothing, hence why we didn’t race it. Just the angle of it didn’t allow the team to hold the floor up. But yeah, this global issue of these 2022 cars is far from over.’
Toto Wolff was involved in a furious row with Christian Horner at a meeting of team principals
Sportsmail reported that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff ‘lost his s***’ in a furious row with old rival Christian Horner at a meeting of team principals on Saturday – claiming rivals were ganging up on him over drivers’ bouncing problems.
The FIA’s intervention on safety grounds, to try to eradicate cars bouncing, triggered huge controversy over the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.
Teams were annoyed at the late timing of the announcement, and there was confusion among some over whether the new bouncing limits were supposed to be in place for the weekend.
Further meetings are set to take place and it won’t be easy for the FIA to sort out the issue, with differing opinions up and down the pit-lane on what should be done, if anything.
Promise turns to disappointment for Alonso
There was tremendous excitement when Fernando Alonso produced a brilliant lap in his Alpine to qualify second for the Canadian Grand Prix.
His performance was a reminder of his supreme speed, even at the age of 40, in a career where his machinery has struggled to match his raw ability.
Promise of a podium finish failed to live up to potential as he slipped out of contention after some bizarre strategy calls.
While most of the field pitted under the two virtual safety cars for the retirements of Sergio Perez and Mick Schumacher, Alpine decided to keep Alonso out on much older tyres.
Fernando Alonso qualified superbly but endured a miserable Sunday to finish just ninth
This put him out of contention to challenge the Mercedes drivers for a podium and his race continued to spiral downhill from there.
He showed better pace than Esteban Ocon but was told to stay behind his team-mate due to an engine issue – something which the Spaniard said cost him a second a lap.
Alonso crossed the line in seventh, but was relegated to ninth with a five-second penalty, as his defensive driving to keep Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo behind was deemed too aggressive as he weaved down the back straight.
Saturday showed the veteran still has the speed to challenge at the front, but it’s going to take more from him and Alpine for that to reflect on the Sunday.
Weekend to forget for McLaren
To sum up McLaren’s weekend, their drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo received apologies from team principal Andrea Seidl after a shocking weekend in Montreal.
Shocking pit-stops compromised both drivers’ races as Ricciardo was left stationary for too long, which in turn left Norris waiting even longer as McLaren attempted a double stack behind the safety car.
However, the wrong tyres were then put on Norris’ car compounding what had already been a miserable weekend for the Brit.
McLaren’s poor weekend was compounded by slow pitstops for both of their drivers
Ricciardo passed Sebastian Vettel for P10, only to have the other Aston Martin of Lance Stroll pass him late on to take the final point of the race.
Norris had his joint-worst finish of the season in 15th, and also received a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
Last season McLaren were in a battle for third in the constructors’ championship, though it looks like the best they can do this season is fourth.
It was a costly weekend though for the team, as both Alpine and Alfa Romeo picked up healthy point scores to close the gap on them.
Zhou impressing in the Alfa Romeo
Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu is starting to get the hang of Formula One now in his debut season.
He was comfortably beaten by his team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the opening races of the season, but in Baku and Canada he has closed the gap to his experienced team-mate.
In Montreal, Zhou outqualified Bottas for the second race in a row and for long periods of the race was ahead of the man who has won 10 races in his career.
Zhou Guanyu is starting to get the hang of Formula One and impressed in Montreal on Sunday
He will have been disappointed to finish behind the Finn, but he was delighted to finally deliver on the promise he has been showing as of late in the car.
The only rookie on this year’s grid had suffered retirements in Miami, Barcelona and Baku, while also struggled to put a lap together in Monaco which saw him start from the back.
Zhou is showing real improvement though, which will be a huge boost for Alfa Romeo in the constructors’ championship as they look to build on their current sixth place in the standings.
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