Verstappen comes out top in a wild and wet race in Montreal

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. 09.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Max Verstappen took victory in a rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix but it was far from the usual calm dominance for Red Bull with half a dozen drivers looking in the running for victory at various points.

George Russell led at the start from pole but was passed by McLaren's Lando Norris before the half-way point. A failed try at an overcut and bad timing with a safety car left Norris defending P2 from Russell at the finish.

It was a bleak outing for Ferrari and Williams, with both teams seeing a double DNF. Sergio Perez also had a luckless day, clipping Pierre Gasly at the start and subsequently damaging his rear wing forcing him to retire.

Precipitation had been a persistent factor in the run-up to the Canadian GP this weekend. Everyone was on intermediate tyres for the start save for the Haas pair, who opted for full wets as the rain started falling again right on cue.

Circuit atmosphere - fans in the pits.
09.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day.
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Despite the conditions it was a standing start, with George Russell getting a clear view from pole. Everyone behind was ultra cautious but Daniel Ricciardo lost places and was also dinged for a false start, while Sergio Perez clipped Pierre Gasly into a half-spin which both survived.

The early star was Kevin Magnussen. Having started from P14 he made the most of those full wets and blasted his way up to fourth by lap 4. Nico Hulkenberg was also on the rise. But time soon ran out for them as the rain eased and a dry line started to develop. Magnussen duly dived down pit lane on lap 8 to change to inters, dropping to 12th, while Hulkenberg opted to stick it out.

Russell maintained the lead but Verstappen was coming alive. Lewis Hamilton pressured Fernando Alonso into a mistake only to run wide himself at turn 2, at which point Alonso grappled with a wild tankslapper. Also having problems was Logan Sargeant who went off and clipped the barrier at turn 6, while Leclerc was suffering power unit problems.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 leads at the start of the race.
09.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Russell was now struggling for rear-end grip and Verstappen was all over him, but the conditions meant no DRS. Russell gathered himself and on lap 17 it was the Red Bull that bounced across the grass at turn 2. Suddenly it was Verstappen under pressure from Norris as race control enabled DRS for the first time. Norris promptly blasted past the Red Bull out of the hairpin on lap 21.

Norris had the momentum and soon muscled his way past a struggling Russell to take the lead just before the final chicane on lap 22. The Mercedes was forced to cut the chicane and nearly collected the Red Bull upon his return, but Verstappen just dodged the danger. Norris was flying in these conditions and pulled a whopping ten second lead over Verstappen.

But that came to an end when Sargeant went into the wall again at the exit of turn 4. This time he was unable to get going, triggering a safety car. Drivers made a mass dive down pit lane for fresh inters but Norris was a lap late coming in, dropping back in behind Verstappen and Russell before the race and the rain resumed on lap 30. A sudden intense but brief downpour was terrible timing for Leclerc who had just switched to slicks. He pitted again but eventually retired after being lapped by Verstappen.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20 leads behind the Aston Martin FIA Safety Car.
09.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

The rain was easing off now. Verstappen was pulling away from Russell and Norris, and Albon pulled off the move of the day threading his way past Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon at the chicane to recover into the top ten on lap 32. It was looking nearly time for a move to slicks although standing water at turns 1 and 2 was still causing problems for many including a scare for Norris, and Sainz damaged his front wing running into the back of Valtteri Bottas' Sauber.

Gasly took the bait and switched to hard tyres on lap 41. When he didn't immediately crash, it sparked the others to make a mass move to pit lane. Verstappen and Russell stayed out until lap 46 while Norris attempted to overcut them by staying out two laps longer, but just failed to pull it off. However once his tyres were up to temperature, Norris got back past Russell when the Mercedes got unsettled by taking too much kerb.

Just when things looked settled, Perez lost the back of the Red Bull and damaged his rear wing on the barrier went. Simultaneously Sainz hit a wet patch at turn 6 and slid across the track to collect innocent bystander Albon, triggering a second safety car. Drivers took the opportunity to make a another visit to pit lane.

The podium (L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren, second; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, race winner; Steve Knowles (GBR) Red Bull Racing Senior Race Strategy Engineer; George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1, third.
09.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day.
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The top four were now all on mediums. Verstappen led the restart on lap 59 and pulled away from Norris. Russell lost out to Piastri in turn 13 and then succumbed to his team mate Hamilton who was alone among the front runners on hard tyres. Hamilton proved his resurgence by pouncing on Piastri to move on to the podium. Russell also took his revenge on Piastri which left the two Mercedes battling each other with no team orders in place. It meant Russell was clear to press the attack and snatch back P3 on the penultimate lap.

At the line Verstappen was the clear winner by almost four seconds from Norris, Russell and Hamilton. Piastri was fifth ahead of Alonso and his Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll. Ricciardo recovered from his jump start to finish eighth but his RB team mate Yuki Tsunoda had a late spin onto the grass at turn 9 dropped out of the top ten. That allowed the two Alpines of Gasly and Ocon to collect the points bounty instead. For all their early heroics, Haas pair Hulkenberg and Magnussen just missed out.

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