Verstappen holds off Sainz to claim tight win in Montreal


Red Bull's Max Verstappen picked up another win in 2022 in the Canadian Grand Prix to extend his grip on the 2022 drivers championship, but he was made to work for it by second-place man Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton was delighted to finish on the podium for only the second time this season, while his Mercedes team mate George Russell continued his unbroken run of points finishing ahead of the recovering Charles Leclerc who was fifth.

There were double points finishes for Alpine and Alfa Romeo although Fernando Alonso was frustrated to drop to seventh from his front row start.

But it was a disaster for Haas with Kevin Magnussen last after suffering front wing damage, and Mick Schumacher retiring joining Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri on the sidelines long before the finish.

A glitch in the weather matrix had resulted in a very cold and wet Saturday in Montreal, but on Sunday the sun had been restored to full operational mode in the skies over the the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on the Ile Notre-Dame, in time for the start of this year's Canadian Grand Prix - the first to be held here in three years because of COVID.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522 on the grid. 19.06.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race

Max Verstappen had mastered the wet conditions in qualifying to claim pole for Red Bull, but there was a surprise presence alongside him with Alpine's Fernando Alonso claiming his first front row spot in a decade. That had pushed Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton back to the second row, and behind them there were even more surprises in store with Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher achieving the best combined grid position in the team's relatively short history. Say what you like about wet weather, it sure does know how to mix up the grid into a heady cocktail of dizzy anticipation.

With the track having long since dried up, the top ten were all starting on medium slicks. Valtteri Bottas in P11 was the highest starter on the hard compound, as were the out-of-position cars further back consisting of Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc in P19, after the Ferrari driver had incurred multiple grid penalties for new engine parts following his Baku blow up last week.

When the lights went out, Verstappen got a textbook start with Alonso holding on to second from Sainz and Hamilton vying with Magnussen to keep hold of fourth, while Esteban Ocon made an early gain with a pass on Schumacher who then promptly lost out to George Russell when the Mercedes dived down the inside at the hairpin. Further back, Bottas had lost two positions after locking up and taking to the run-off at turn 14.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18 leads at the start of the race. 19.06.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race

Verstappen was already out of DRS range of Alonso by the second lap, and the Alpine was itself picked off by Sainz two laps later releasing the Ferrari to chase the Red Bull. Hamilton was trying and failing to find a way past the Alpine, but Russell was having more success further back: having passed Ocon, he now picking off Magnussen for fifth with the Haas having picked up front wing end plate damage on the opening lap. The Haas pit wall was initially not unduly concerned about it at this point of the proceedings, but moments later Magnussen was on the receiving end of a black and orange flag from the marshals requiring him to pit for repairs on lap 7 effectively terminating his race.

The first retirement of the race came on lap 9 with Perez pulling off having reported that the engine on his Red Bull was stuck in gear. It triggered a Virtual Safety Car that allowed Verstappen to immediately pit for hard tyres. Hamilton followed suit, but Sainz stayed out to pick up the lead ahead of Alonso with Verstappen coming back out in third just ahead of Russell and Ocon. Hamilton was back in sixth followed by Zhou Guanyu, Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon, all of whom had decided it was still too early to make their maiden stops.

Hamilton was tasked with getting past Ocon as soon as possible and he duly managed to squeeze by on lap 12 as soon as the VSC period ended. Alonso was no more able to hold off Verstappen, who was back up to second place on lap 17. Further back Albon had been looking surprisingly comfortable in tenth and the Williams was proving up to the task of holding off Bottas, and the duelling pair in turn holding up Leclerc's attempts to race back into the top ten. In the end Albon's tyres started to lose grip and his resistance finally buckled on lap 18, and both the Alfa and the Ferrari soon took their chance to make their way through.

Mick Schumacher (GER) Haas VF-22. 19.06.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race

Lap 20 saw Schumacher pull off the track at turn 9, triggering another VSC which Russell immediately took advantage of to make his first stop of the afternoon, returning in fifth behind Sainz, Verstappen, Alonso and Hamilton. Sainz had to wait almost a full lap before he could follow suit and make his stop, and he returned in third ahead of Hamilton just as the VSC was withdrawn. Others also came in, leaving Alonso the only one of the leaders still on his original set of mediums and now losing time hand over fist to those behind him.

Sainz caught and passed Alonso on lap 23, and Hamilton efficiently pulled off the same trick on the Alpine on the next lap. Russell had a seven second gap to overcome to be the next person to pick off Alonso, and he was followed by Ocon who was himself now under pressure from Leclerc, now in P7 having picked off Bottas. Stroll and Zhou rounded out the top ten on their original hard tyres, with Yuki Tsunoda just outside the points in P11. He was followed by Ricciardo, who had pitted under the VSC in a double stacking move at McLaren. that had gone horribly wrong for his team mate Norris when the right tyres weren't brought out, dropping the Briton to the miserable depths of P17 stuck between the two Williams of Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

Alonso finally pitted on lap 29 for a set of hard tyres to see him potentially through to the finish, and it looked like the principal objective for the rest of his race was to try and finish ahead of Leclerc. The Monegasque was currently just ahead of him on track but yet to make his stop. The crucial question now was whether those who had come in really early - specifically Verstappen and Hamilton - could make their tyres last long enough before being forced to make another stop, with Verstappen's pace already starting to wane compared with that of Sainz who was on tyres 12 laps fresher.

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT03 crashed out of the race. 19.06.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race

After trailing in Ocon's hot exhaust air until lap 42, Ferrari finally pulled the pin on Leclerc's pit stop only to suffer a slow service that cost him fully three seconds, and meant he came out in P12 behind the long, slow DRS train consisting of Bottas, Stroll, Zhou, Tsunoda and Ricciardo. It left him with a mountain to climb to limit the damage to this championship campaign. Verstappen was in for the second time on lap 44 with a smoother stop than his rival, although not fast enough to come back out in front of Hamilton. Even so, it only took a lap for the Red Bull's new hard tyres to give him the raw speed needed to pass Hamilton, who then himself pitted next time by followed by Russell a lap later.

Sainz was now in the lead but his ten second advantage was already being eaten alive by Verstappen, with Hamilton and Russell looking safe in third and fourth respectively followed by Alpine pair Ocon and Alonso, then Bottas and Stroll followed by Leclerc who had taken care of Zhou and Tsunoda to get back into the points. Stroll pitted moments later, which meant Ricciardo was promoted into the top ten. Tsunoda then pitted but made a rookie level error, lacking grip on the cold tyres as he emerged from pit lane and heading straight into the tyre barrier to trigger an immediate full safety car.

Now there were frantic calls to make up and down the length of pit lane as to whether to use the safety car to make another stop. Sainz had little choice but to surrender the lead in return for fresh rubber, handing P1 back over to Verstappen. Behind them it was two-by-two for Mercedes (Hamilton and Russell) and Alpine (Ocon and Alonso) with Leclerc in seventh followed by Bottas, then Vettel having stayed out keeping him ahead of Zhou while a sluggish stop for Ricciardo had dropped the Aussie out of the top ten again. Magnussen, Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Albon, Norris and Latifi had all been lapped by this point, but were now allowed to re-pass the safety car before the race resumed in a rolling restart with 16 laps remaining.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75. 19.06.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race

As soon as DRS was re-enabled, Zhou was able to use his fresher tyres to snatch P9 from the struggling Vettel while Sainz was doing everything he could to pressure Verstappen for the lead, but he wasn't quite close enough to pull it off. Alonso found himself pinned behind his team mate which gave Leclerc the chance to wrest P6 away on lap 59. Leclerc then tried to press home the advantage on Ocon in turn, only to out-brake himself into the first corner. Once he regrouped, Leclerc was soon able to take care of Ocon on lap 61 and climb to P5, not a bad result at all given his back row start.

Sainz had been throwing everything he could into his attack on Verstappen, but the Dutch driver remained resolute in defence. Sainz appeared to have run out of steam and dropped back out of DRS range, but he was simply regrouping and on lap 64 he was back on it for another go. There was no issue with tyre wear of saving fuel or engines, just full-out open warfare with Hamilton watching on from a short distance behind in the hope that this battle would give him a chance to pounce on any mistakes from the lead pair.

Verstappen was able to tough it out to the end and it was Sainz who made a slight error in the final two laps, dropping away to allow Verstappen to claim his sixth win of the season. Hamilton joined them on the podium with Russell extending his remarkable run of top five points finishes ahead of Leclerc. They were followed by Ocon and a frustrated Alonso, who had been under intense pressure from Bottas, Zhou and Stroll in the final laps. It meant Ricciardo never managed to get back into the points, and Vettel had suffered on old tyres as he fell to 12th followed by Albon, Gasly, Norris and Latifi, with Magnussen running last on track when the chequered flag came out.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter