The unstoppable Max Verstappen celebrated the 100th victory of the Red Bull team with a quick gulp from the can with the house brand. Almost playfully, the defending champion achieved his sixth victory in the eighth race of the season in Montreal on Sunday and provided his employer with the historic victory mark. “It’s just unbelievable. I never thought I would see such numbers,” said the Dutchman.
With his 41st Grand Prix victory, the 25-year-old himself caught up with the icon Ayrton Senna, and there is currently no end in sight to his dominance. Second at the Canadian Grand Prix went to Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin, who made it onto the podium for the sixth time this year. Third place went to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
In the overall standings, Verstappen increased his cushion to 69 points ahead of stable rival Sergio Perez before the Red Bull home game in Austria. The Mexican only finished sixth and, after a strong start to the season, has to give up more and more. Thanks to Verstappen, however, Red Bull achieved their 18th victory in the past 19 races. “It was a great day for us,” enthused Verstappen.
Nico Hülkenberg experienced a particularly turbulent weekend. First, a major engine failure slowed down the Haas pilot in training. In the chaotic qualification on Saturday, the 35-year-old then showed his rain skills and raced to second place. However, because he was then too fast when the red flag came up, the Rhinelander was downgraded to fifth on the grid. From there, Hülkenberg again had no chance on Sunday on a dry track and, finishing 15th, clearly missed out on the points.
The changeable weather was not the only real challenge for Formula 1 over the three days in Montreal. The very first training session had to be canceled for safety reasons due to a video surveillance breakdown. A power outage was probably the cause.
On Sunday, however, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve showed itself from its best side. When the sun was shining, tens of thousands of fans lined the traditional racetrack on an artificial island in the St. Lawrence River. Hustle and bustle arose just before the start at Ferrari. Because Charles Leclerc damaged his car on the way to the starting grid, the underbody on his company car had to be replaced without further ado.
The working day started without any problems for Verstappen. From pole position, he drove first into turn one and soon pulled away from his chasseurs. Behind them, Hamilton got off to a better start than Alonso and immediately took second place. Mercedes had already shown a clear upswing in form in Barcelona, and this time Hamilton and teammate George Russell got off to a good start in the two Silver Arrows.
But on lap 13 Russell blundered while chasing Alonso, ran over the curbs and crashed sideways into the wall. Visibly damaged, the Brit rolled back towards the pits. The safety car slowed the field down. Teammate Hamilton used this for a tire change. But it took a little too long, the 38-year-old just squeezed himself in front of the approaching Alonso when he started in the pit lane. “I had to brake,” reported the Spaniard promptly.
The race stewards opened an investigation but did not impose a penalty. Alonso had already taken matters into his own hands, soon after the restart he passed Hamilton.
Verstappen continued to dominate events at the very front. The double world champion complained about poor grip on his new tires. Nevertheless, he continued to extend his lead. “Just put your head down and carry on,” was the relaxed message from the command post.
All hopes of a good result for Nico Hulkenberg were long gone. His first pit stop threw him back a long way because of the safety car phase. Even before half-time, the veteran came to the garage for another set of fresh rubber bands. It didn’t get any better after that either.
Meanwhile, teammate Kevin Magnussen had a strange skirmish with Nyck de Vries in the Alpha Tauri. After a tough duel, both slipped off the track and had to reverse gear.
Otherwise, the entertainment was limited as the race progressed. Alonso was even instructed by his team to drive more carefully, but replied: “I want to win the race.” However, the almost flawless Verstappen did not allow that.