Max Verstappen wins Canadian GP to match Ayrton Senna’s 41 race victories
Max Verstappen completed another crushing performance to win the Canadian Grand Prix and match Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 victories.
The Dutchman led every lap at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to draw level with Senna and extend his championship lead.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished runner-up, with Lewis Hamilton third for Mercedes. Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell retired on lap 55 of 70 following an earlier prang with the wall.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished fourth and fifth respectively for Ferrari, with Sergio Perez sixth. Alex Albon crossed the line a commendable seventh in his Williams.
Verstappen, who notched up Red Bull’s 100th win in Formula One, now leads Perez by 69 points on his unstoppable march to a hat-trick of titles.
A day after taking pole position in the wet, Verstappen reigned supreme in the dry to emulate Senna and move into joint fifth in the pantheon of F1 winners.
Verstappen was not even born when Senna won his 41st and final race at the 1993 season-ending Australian Grand Prix. Senna lost his life the following year in Imola following a fatal crash at the Tamburello curve, aged just 34.
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 wins), Michael Schumacher (91), Sebastian Vettel (53) and Alain Prost (51) ahead of him in the record books.
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.
Indeed, Red Bull could yet become the first team to win every race in a single season. And with Verstappen at the wheel, they have every chance.
“I am very happy right now,” said Verstappen. “To win again and take the 100th win for the team is incredible.”
Verstappen’s triumph was sealed on the short dash to the opening chicane. Alonso was slow away from his marks, and Hamilton leapfrogged the green Aston Martin machine to take second spot.
Hamilton 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 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.
After five laps behind the safety car, 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.
A second round of pit stops followed and Hamilton set about reeling Alonso in. But Russell’s race came to an end while running in eighth with 15 laps remaining when he was told to park a Mercedes riddled with excessive brake wear.
Alonso was also struggling with a brake problem and Hamilton sensed blood. “Hamilton is 1.9 seconds behind,” Alonso was told with eight laps to run.
“Copy,” replied the 41-year-old. “Leave it to me.” Alonso was true to his word, holding off Hamilton’s advances.
Verstappen ran across the second chicane with a handful of laps to run.
“I nearly knocked myself out on that kerb,” said the Dutchman with a chuckle before taking the flag 9.5 seconds clear of Alonso with Hamilton 4.5 sec further back.
“It has been a great weekend for us,” said Hamilton. “We are slowly chipping away. And we will bring more upgrades to move forward.
“I do believe we will get there at some stage. We are going in the right direction.”
Hamilton added: “It is quite an honour to be up there with two world champions. I was excited to be third, and in that mix.
“We didn’t have the pace today, and we knew this would not be our strongest circuit because we struggle in the low-speed corners, and that was where I was losing time.”