Max Verstappen maintained his grip on the Formula One Championship fight by blocking a late challenge from Carlos Science Jr. to secure his sixth win of the season on a very easy Sunday drive at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Verstappen won from a poll at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to extend his lead to 46 points over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who retired early with a gearbox problem.
“It’s still a long way to go and of course I know the gap is huge, but I know it can change very quickly,” Verstappen said of his points lead. He noted that after the third race of the season he was 46 points behind Charles LeClerk.
The Dutchman had no trouble clearing Fernando Alonso, who got his first front row start in a decade, and then joked that he would attack Verstappen at the first turn to steal the win.
But there was no challenge and by the time Saint Alonso finished second in Lap 2, Verstappen already had a 2.4-second lead over his Red Bull. Science managed to close the gap in the last 10 laps and put pressure on the current F1 champion but failed in the last lap and ended up lagging behind .993 seconds in his Ferrari.
“It’s good racing, it’s always more fun to really push than to save your tires,” Verstappen told Science. “It’s not a journey in terms of overtaking, but it’s very close.”
Science said Sunday was the second he could get.
“When I give it all up, I risk everything,” Science said. “I can tell you that I’ve coming forward. I’ve given it all up. For the first time this season I can say that I’m the fastest person on the track, which gives me some confidence and some hope on the next races.”
Mercedes has bounced back tremendously from its season-long struggles, including fierce Friday practice, with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton scoring his first podium after the season-opening race in March. George Russell finished fourth after Hamilton defeated his new teammate a second time in nine races this season.
“It feels great to be at war and in the end I’ve been with these guys, but it gives me and the team so much hope,” Hamilton said. “The potential is really there if we can get the setup right and I think it’s a very difficult thing this year.”
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Hamilton received overwhelming praise after his finish and said he had no problems with his back due to how he bounces on the new Mercedes track.
“It’s good, I’m back in my youth,” said the 37 – year – old. But he said “we still have the bounce, but it’s the difference between night and day.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolf admits that after the race the team increased the ride height on their cars to make them more driven and removed the “porpoising” effect that had plagued Hamilton and Russell all season. The bounce caused back pain and headaches for its drivers.
“The (air) tunnel told us, the shorter the car, the faster you go, which has an impact on the ground,” Wolfe said. “But with effect, you can not drive a car there, you just lift and lift and lift, and then you’re wasting half a second or more on the downforce on paper.
“We raised it already (Saturday), but the more you raise it the more it loses performance. So it’s always a compromise.”
Verstappen, meanwhile, won six of the first nine races of his title defense season.
It was Verstappen’s best ending in Montreal, hosting a record 338,000 spectators over the three – day weekend, as the series returned to Canada after a two – year hiatus during the epidemic. After two days of rain on Sunday the spectators looked to be clear and sunny, which enhanced the qualifying and created a slick track that would allow Alonso – and other drivers, including Hamilton – to earn their top starting positions this year.
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Leclerc finished fifth from 19th with a 10-place grid penalty for changing the engine in his Ferrari. Albany’s Estaban O’Connor finished sixth and teammate Alonso, who said he was happy to finish fifth, finished seventh.
Valteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo was eighth and Rookie teammate Zhou Gwanyu was second on points for the second time this season. Lance Stroll, a Canadian driver from Aston Martin, was 10th.
Sergio Perez exited the race after just nine laps with a gearbox problem, the fourth Red Bull mechanical failure between Perez and Verstappen this season. Eleven laps later, Mick Schumacher stopped on the track – the Haas driver trying to score his first F1 points.
Haas equalized the best qualifying attempt in team history the day before when Kevin Magnussen and Schumacher qualified for the fifth and sixth, but the team failed to change that. Magnussen damaged his front wing in the early lap of Hamilton Racing and had to stop early for repairs; He finished 17th.
Nicolas Latifi, a Toronto native who admitted his seat at Williams was unsafe, finished 16th in the first home Grand Prix of his career.
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Next: The British Grand Prix on July 3 at Silverstone. Hamilton won what was considered a Brits home race a year ago.