F1 Canadian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen holds off Carlos Sainz to win as Lewis Hamilton finishes third

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Max Verstappen held off a spirited late challenge from Carlos Sainz to take his race wins tally for the Formula One season to six at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman has been the dominant force throughout his 150th grand prix weekend and had been on course for a procession to the chequered flag only to encounter a late safety car when Yuki Tsunoda somehow drove into the barriers on the way out of the pits.

Such was the ease that Verstappen had pulled clear at the original start, the expectation was he would do the same when the safety car pulled in on lap 54 of 70.

But Sainz, eyeing a first career win at a track which had been the backdrop for maiden victories for Lewis Hamilton and Gilles Villeneuve, repeatedly pushed but could not quite force his way past.

Crucially, the result extended Verstappen’s championship lead to 44 points over Charles Leclerc, who managed to limit the damage of starting from the back of the grid as a penalty for his power unit change to finish in fifth.

Lewis Hamilton picked up his first podium since the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix six seconds behind the race winner, a marked turnaround from the drier practice sessions where the seven-time world champion bemoaned the fact his car had not improved.

The porpoising had notably diminished and the race pace was genuinely quick as it had been two races previously in Spain before the nightmare of Baku last time around.

It was a rare moment for Hamilton to get the jump on teammate George Russell, who had a poor start before rallying to climb up from 10th to fifth early on. But in truth Russell never had the pace to get close to his fellow Briton.

As Verstappen dominated the original race start, Hamilton clipped wheels with Kevin Magnussen and escaped without damage while the Dane was called in with a loose bit of his front-wing end plate flapping around.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

In what was the first Canadian Grand Prix since 2019 because of Covid, Leclerc and another surprise backmarker on the grid in Sergio Perez did not quite have the electric starts anticipated.

In fact, Perez’s race only lasted eight laps as his engine ground to a halt, which left Red Bull pondering whether Verstappen might suffer a similar issue.

They needn’t have worried although they again made anxious viewers in a race defined by the last 16 laps. Verstappen did his best to get a second clear of Sainz before the DRS zone was reactivated but couldn’t quite do it as Sainz, eyeing that first win, continued to push.

The pair traded fastest sectors throughout each lap but the Spaniard never really got a sniff to get past and Verstappen, so solid all season already, didn’t make a mistake. He now has double the race wins of the rest of the grid combined.

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