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Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen wins chaotic Canadian classic as Ferrari suffer Montreal misery

One of those days when the racing Gods smiled on Max Verstappen, but what a shocker for Ferrari.

Verstappen rain race Canada
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen stretched his F1 championship lead after taking the chequered flag at the end of a chaotic Canadian Grand Prix that comprised two safety car periods as intermittent rain played havoc.

The first safety car, for a crash involving Williams' Logan Sargeant, was crucial and cost then-leader Lando Norris. The McLaren driver had to settle for second place ahead of Mercedes' George Russell, who claimed the team's first podium of the season ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

In claiming his 60th career victory, and a hat-trick in Montreal, Red Bull's three-time champion Verstappen has now stretched his advantage over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to 56 points, with Norris a further seven points adrift.

For the Scuderia, who looked majestic a fortnight ago in Monaco where Leclerc reigned supreme in securing a win on home soil, their wretched weekend in Montreal culminated in the Monégasque retiring after 42 laps due to an engine issue he had nursed from the start.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz followed suit 12 laps later after a spin in coming off a wet kerb, with Williams' Alex Albon hitting the SF-24 as he had nowhere to go. Their retirements took the total to five for the race.

Behind fourth-placed Hamilton, McLaren's Oscar Piastri was fifth, followed by Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso. Team-mate Lance Stroll was seventh, followed by RB's Daniel Ricciardo, with Alpine duo Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon completing the top 10.

Result Race - Canadian

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Haas gamle pays early dividends

With intermittent bursts of rain passing over the circuit for around two hours before the race, it meant a start in the wet, but with the conditions decent enough to ensure a standing start rather than rolling behind the safety car.

With further rain passing through in the immediate build-up, Haas took what appeared to be a gamble by starting both drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, on the full wets, whereas their 18 rivals were all on the intermediates.

It proved an initial masterstroke as from 14th and 17th on the grid Magnussen and Hulkenberg made hay whilst the rain fell on the opening laps. By the end of the fifth, the duo had risen to fourth and eighth respectively.

By lap six, however, with Russell ahead of Verstappen by 2.5s, and with Norris almost six seconds further back, and Magnussen only 1.3s down,  the rain disappeared and the sun began to burst through. 

After seven laps, Magnussen made a swift call to switch to inters, but seemingly caught his pit crew unawares as they did not have the green-striped Pirellis ready, resulting in a considerably slower stop than would otherwise have been the case. It meant a 10-place drop down to 14th.

Hulkenberg continued to eke it out on his wet rubber but it became patently obvious he was on the wrong tyre as a queue of cars began to form behind him, led by Ricciardo, who finally passed the German at the end of lap 12. It was a crucial move as the Australian had been handed a five-second penalty for a false start.

Out in front, Verstappen slowly began to edge up to the rear of Russell's W15, pulling within a second by lap 13 but naturally unable to activate DRS given the still wet track, albeit with a dry line slowly starting to form.

With Russell nursing his tyres, but doing just enough to keep Verstappen at bay, it allowed Norris to close in, and with a further rain band closing in. Ordinarily, the drivers would likely have switched to slicks but they were forced to keep the inters alive.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Norris takes the lead but safety car costs him dear

At the start of lap 17, Verstappen made a rare mistake on the approach to Turn 1, being forced to cut the chicane. It allowed Russell breathing space, and additionally, Norris to close in.

On lap 18, Norris was given an additional boost as race control allowed the drivers to activate DRS. But Verstappen was starting to get within touching distance of Russell again, and the advantage of DRS himself.

But at the end of lap 20, and with a considerably better exit out of the hairpin, Norris was able to hunt down Verstappen into Turn 13 with the aid of DRS to move into second place.

A lap later, Norris pulled off an identical move on Russell to claim the lead. Unable to make the exit of Turn 13, Russell was forced to cut the chicane. In taking the escape road, and returning to the track, Verstappen swept by into second.

Behind them, fourth-placed Piastri began to haul in Russell, whilst Alonso was enjoying a battle royal with Hamilton for fifth, albeit with the duo 16 seconds behind the Australian.

On lap 25, Sargeant spun out of Turn 8 and into a wall at Turn 9, resulting in a safety car. When it was called, Norris had just passed the entry, whereas those behind - Verstappen, Russell and Piastri - were able to dive in and take on new inters, with heavy rain incoming.

Eventually making his stop, narrowly missing the pit window cost Norris dearly, whilst he also caught the safety car that additinally delayed him. After taking on his new inters, he filtered in between Russell and Piastri in third, allowing Verstappen to inherit the lead.

Further rain adds to the drama

The safety car peeled away at the end of lap 29. At that stage Verstappen led Russell, followed by Norris, Piastri, with Hamilton fifth ahead of Alonso, then RB's Yuki Tsunoda, Stroll, Albon and Ocon completing the top 10.

Leclerc, who had been nursing engine issues up to the safety car period, opted for a switch onto the hard tyres, but it backfired. Within a lap, and running last anyway, the rain started to fall again. Two laps later, he returned to the pits for new inters.

The rain quickly passed, and again, in certain areas of the track, a dry line soon started to form by half distance, lap 35. A lap later, Leclerc suffered ignominy when Verstappen lapped him, followed swiftly by Russell, Norris, Piastri and Hamilton engaged in a five-way fight for the lead.

Toward the rear, Alpine became the guinea pig for all other teams and drivers as after 41 laps they brought in Gasly for a switch to hard tyres. Two laps later, Hamilton was the first of the leaders to pit, taking on the medium tyres. Piastri followed a lap later.

Verstappen, with a 3.3s lead over Russell and Norris battling for second, took on the mediums after 45 laps, with Russell opting for the hards. Norris, however, stayed out for two more laps.

At that point, though, he was under investigation for cutting the track and gaining an advantage for a mistake made at the Turn 1-2 chicane a few laps earlier. As he pitted, the stewards decided there would be no further action.

Norris' decision almost worked as he exited the pit lane on the mediums, on the wettest part of the track around Turns 1 and 2, just behind Verstappen, but ahead of Russell and Piastri.

On lap 49, though, Norris locked up through the hairpin, allowing Russell a run into Turn 13 to reclaim second.

Out in front, Verstappen complained of a locking suspension, later adding he was unable to touch the kerbs as "it almost knocks me out", offering his pursuers a semblance of hope with 20 laps remaining. 

On lap 51, it was Russell's turn to make a mistake going into Turn 8. Norris took full advantage to again ride in second.

Two laps later, with Sergio Perez running dismally in 17th, the Mexican became the third retiree after sliding off the track at Turn 6, reverse sliding into a barrier and severely damaging the rear wing.

On the following lap, a second safety car was required when Sainz also lost his car at the same corner. Albon, battling the Spaniard for 10th, was an innocent victim as he hit the Ferrari as he tried to make his way past.

Albon ended up with his car against a wall, whilst Sainz almost beached his car on the grass. He just managed to continue but also retired, bringing the number up to five.

Russell and Hamilton took advantage by pitting again onto fresh tyres - the former onto mediums, the latter taking on the hards.

With the safety car pitting after 58 laps, it left a 12-lap sprint for the win, with Verstappen ahead of Norris, Piastri, Russell, Hamilton, and Alonso.

On lap 63, with Verstappen edging clear of Norris, Russell attacked Piastri into Turn 13. The latter held his line, and with minor contact between the duo, the Briton was forced to cut the chicane, promoting Hamilton to fourth.

Two laps later, Hamilton, with better traction on fresh tyres compared to Piastri, managed to sweep by into third into Turn 13. Russell finally made his way past Piastri on the following lap to claim fourth place.

On the penultimate lap, Russell duelled with Hamilton and grabbed third into Turn 13.

Verstappen took the chequered flag by 3.879s over Norris, with Russell and Hamilton within a second of their fellow Briton.

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