Red Bull’s Max Verstappen held off a late charge from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix for the sixth time in 2022.
Verstappen had the better of Sainz for the majority of the race, despite the two drivers opting for slightly different tyre strategies as a couple of Virtual Safety Car periods punctuated the first half of the race.
However, a late-race Safety Car deployment to clear Yuki Tsunoda’s stricken AlphaTauri allowed Sainz to close in on Verstappen’s gearbox, and when racing resumed on Lap 54, the Ferrari appeared to be in a good position to attack.
Though Sainz was able to close the gap on Verstappen down the back straight at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Dutchman always eked out enough of a lead around the other side of the track to keep Sainz at bay, and held on to win his fifth Grand Prix of 2022.
“The Safety Car didn’t help. Overall, (Ferrari) were very quick in the race, so it would have been really tough for me to close that gap at the end even on fresher tyres,” said Verstappen.
“But it was really exciting at the end — I was giving it everything I had and, of course, Carlos was doing the same. I could see he was pushing and charging. The last few laps were a lot of fun. Luckily, this year, we seem really quick on the straights so that helps a lot.”
Behind the top two, Lewis Hamilton finished third on Mercedes’ most competitive Sunday of the season.
George Russell, Hamilton’s teammate, finished fourth, ahead of Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc, who finished fifth after starting 19th due to penalties for excessive component usage, and whose progress was aided by the late Safety Car.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon finished sixth, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas. Behind Bottas was the other Alfa, Zhou Guanyu, who finished eighth, his best-ever F1 finish.
Fernando Alonso, Ocon’s teammate, crossed the line in seventh place but was demoted to ninth after receiving a five-second penalty for excessive weaving while defending his position. After qualifying alongside Verstappen on the front row, the Spaniard may be disappointed with his final position. Lance Stroll of Aston Martin finished tenth in his home race.
In addition to Tsunoda, the other two cars to fail to cross the finish line were Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Mick Schumacher’s Haas, both of which had mechanical issues.
With Perez failing to score, Verstappen’s victory extends his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 175 points. Perez is still in second place with 129 points, but Leclerc has closed the gap to the Mexican with 126 points.
Red Bull maintains its lead in the Constructors’ Championship, with 304 points. Ferrari maintains second place with 228 points, while Mercedes maintains third place with 188 points.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 3 will be the next round of the 2022 F1 World Championship.
(Inputs from IANS)