Max Verstappen aims to ‘keep winning’ after matching Ayrton Senna’s 41 victories

Max Verstappen aims to ‘keep winning’ after matching Ayrton Senna’s 41 victories

Max Verstappen completed another crushing performance in Canada on Sunday to match Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 victories – and then promised to keep the good times rolling.

A day after taking pole position in the wet, Verstappen reigned supreme in the dry at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to beat Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton and move into joint fifth in the pantheon of Formula One winners.

Even an early collision with a bird could not stop the flying Dutchman, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner revealing that his star driver completed the majority of Sunday’s 70-lap race with part of the animal lodged in his brake duct.

Verstappen will not celebrate his 26th birthday until September, but his sixth victory from the opening eight fixtures of the year leaves only Hamilton (103), Michael Schumacher (91), Sebastian Vettel (53) and Alain Prost (51) ahead of him in the record books.

“When I was a little kid driving go karts, I was dreaming about being an F1 driver and I would never had imagined I would win 41 grands prix,” said Verstappen, who also notched up Red Bull’s 100th victory in the sport.

“To tie with Ayrton is incredible and I am proud of that but I hope it doesn’t stop here. I hope we keep on winning more races.

“It is also a great achievement for the team. We knew this was the first opportunity to win 100 races. I am happy that is done, but I hope we will win more than 100 so the new target is 200.”

Remarkably, Verstappen has won 15 of the last 19 races in F1, with Red Bull failing to taste victory on just one occasion in that streak.

Red Bull could yet become the first team to win every race in a single season. And with Verstappen at the wheel – rather than team-mate Sergio Perez who finished only sixth on another trying weekend for the Mexican – they have every chance.

Verstappen’s triumph – his fourth in succession – was all but sealed on the short dash to the opening chicane after he fended off a slow-starting Alonso.

Hamilton, who gazumped Alonso, set his sights on Verstappen’s Red Bull gearbox, but by the end of the opening lap, the seven-time world champion was eight tenths back – and when a virtual safety car was deployed on lap eight after Logan Sargeant broke down in his Williams, the gap was the best part of three seconds.

With Verstappen racing off into the distance, Alonso was the filling in a Mercedes’ sandwich. But that changed on lap 12 when George Russell slammed into the wall on the exit of Turn 9.

Russell’s front wing snapped in half, while his right-rear tyre dangled off his Mercedes. With debris littering the circuit, the safety car came out and the main players stopped for new tyres as Russell pulled in for repairs.

After changing all four tyres, Hamilton was released into Alonso’s path. Alonso said he had to slam on the anchors to avoid running into the back of the Mercedes man, and the flashpoint was duly noted by the stewards, and latterly investigated, but the British driver would escape without punishment.

The safety car came in five laps later and Verstappen executed a fine getaway to leave Hamilton trailing. Indeed, after the opening two turns, he was already one second up the road.

Rather than looking ahead, Hamilton’s attention was occupied by Alonso behind. And on lap 22, the Spaniard dived past Hamilton with a fine move at the final chicane.

Hamilton had a nibble back at Alonso as they raced to the opening corner, but the evergreen Spaniard held his nerve to keep the Mercedes man behind. Russell raced back from last to eighth before he was forced to park a Mercedes riddled with excessive brake wear with 15 laps remaining.

Verstappen took the chequered flag 9.5 sec clear of Alonso. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished fourth and fifth respectively for Ferrari. Alex Albon crossed the line a commendable seventh in his Williams.