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Max Verstappen

Why Verstappen Canadian GP victory is a huge blow to rivals

Max Verstappen won the race he was not expected to win and that is a blow to McLaren and Ferrari, as explained by RacingNews365's Nick Golding.

Verstappen Russell Canada
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen winning the 2024 F1 Canadian Grand Prix is significant, not only because he has extended his lead in the championship to 56 points but mostly due to the fact Red Bull were not the favourites. 

Ahead of F1's trip to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari and McLaren were touted as the favourites for victory, following Red Bull's serious issues at circuits where managing bumps and kerbs is vital. 

Whilst Verstappen won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier this season, it was the first real indicator that the RB20 has two serious weaknesses, which were further exploited in Monaco. 

The RB20 struggles to perform over bumps and kerbs, with Verstappen's pure talent and brilliance having gotten him the pole and a narrow victory in Imola. 

In Monaco, even Verstappen could not wrestle his Red Bull to victory, with even a podium having been out of the question. Sixth was all he could salvage on the iconic streets of the Circuit de Monaco. 

Red Bull showing a chink in its armour opened the door to Ferrari and McLaren, who both had a car capable of performing at a higher level than the RB20 on tricky surfaces. 

Because of this, and the fact Ferrari claimed a historic one-three in Monaco, the Italian manufacturer was the favourite ahead of the Canadian GP, closely followed by McLaren.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve had been resurfaced, but riding kerbs well remained critical for the perfect lap.

How the race unfolded

Little was learnt on the opening day of the Canadian GP due to rain showers, although Verstappen did suffer from an ERS problem. Even though little was discovered in first and second practice, Red Bull was still not expected to challenge for pole. 

Sergio Perez succumbed to the RB20's struggles and was eliminated in Q1, whereas Verstappen progressed to Q3. In Q3, Verstappen somehow found time in the chicanes, an area where the RB20 should have been weak. 

He matched George Russell's pole time but had to settle for second, as the Mercedes driver posted the 1:12.000 first. Incredibly, even after matching the time for pole, Verstappen was still not seen as the favourite for victory in Montreal. 

As the race got underway, he remained within touching distance of early leader Russell but was overtaken by a rapid Lando Norris on lap 20. Norris a lap later gained the race lead, although Verstappen remained close behind. 

Verstappen followed Norris past Russell after the Mercedes driver cut the final chicane, elevating the Dutchman into second as the initially wet circuit continued to dry quickly. Lap 26 was significant, as Verstappen pitted due to a safety car being triggered following a crash for Logan Sargeant. 

Norris did not pit, granting Verstappen the lead of the race when the McLaren driver completed his pit-stop a lap later. Even at this point with Verstappen in the lead, he was still not the favourite for victory. 

When fitted with slick tyres, Verstappen even complained about nearly being knocked out after riding the kerbs, highlighting how uncomfortable the RB20 was at using them. Despite this, he escaped the chasing pack and won by four seconds. 

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Why is this significant?

Verstappen going on to win the Canadian GP is significant, because it was a race where further points were expected to be taken out of his and Red Bull's advantage. 

McLaren, Ferrari and even Mercedes were outlined as being quicker ahead of the event, yet Verstappen beat them all. Whilst his pace was not significantly stronger, he was able to match Norris and Russell. 

Ferrari were nowhere throughout the weekend and had both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc retire from the race. Verstappen winning in Canada should be seen as a blow to a possible fight in the drivers' championship. 

His win should be alarming for Ferrari and McLaren, because given Verstappen won a race where Red Bull were not the favourites, what will he do at the upcoming races where the RB20's strengths will be on show?

Had Verstappen not won, then there would be serious talks of a fight in both championships. But as he claimed victory and matched the fastest pace in an unhappy car, it should worry the paddock what he will do in the upcoming European races, which will suit Red Bull. 

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