Max Verstappen holds nerve to win Canadian GP as Mercedes pair clash

The Dutchman bided his time and made his strategy work to claim maximum points in Montreal

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Max Verstappen claimed a hard-fought victory at the Formula 1 2024 Canadian Grand Prix as the rain wreaked havoc in Montreal on Sunday.

The Red Bull star was denied pole by the virtue of setting his lap time later than George Russell after both clocked a 1:12.000 in qualifying, but he was patient and bided his time, waiting for the track to dry up before showing his true speed.

Despite facing two safety car restarts, the championship leader kept his composure and claimed maximum points in Canada to win his 60th race in F1.

He was joined on the podium by Lando Norris – who led the race at one stage by 20 seconds – and George Russell after passing Lewis Hamilton to deny him a podium. It wasn’t the race victory he wanted, but the 26-year-old made amends for his clash with Oscar Piastri, who finished fifth.

Red Bull also stretched out their lead by 25 points in both championships after a double retirement for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, compounding a miserable weekend for Ferrari.

Max Verstappen leads George Russell of Mercedes during the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen leads George Russell of Mercedes during the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

A magic start for Haas

In torrential conditions, the drivers struggled to find grip on the intermediates and the only two drivers on full wets, Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, made their way through the pack at a rapid rate.

Magnussen climbed to P4 at one stage and was only five seconds off the lead, but the Dane soon came undone when the track dried up and when he came into the pits, his mechanics weren’t ready.

The best fight was at the front as Verstappen closed up to Russell at the front, but an error from the Dutchman saw him overtaken by Norris, who then leapfrogged Russell for the lead and stretched out a big eight-second gap.

But the race was turned on its head when Logan Sargeant clipped the wall at Turn 4 and stalled his engine, leaving him stranded in the middle of the track. Norris decided to stay out while Verstappen, Russell and Piastri pitted, and the Briton paid the price for pitting a lap later as he came out in P3 behind Verstappen and Russell.

On the safety car restart, Verstappen stayed ahead of Russell to lead the race. And even better for him, Ferrari decided to pit Leclerc for slick tyres. However, the rain fell hard enough to leave the Monegasque some 18 seconds off the pace and he was forced to pit for intermediates again.

Wet conditions cause chaos

Gasly was the first driver to gamble on the hard tyre and the rest of the field followed, with Hamilton’s pitstop for mediums forcing Verstappen, Russell and Piastri to cover him off.

Norris continued on the inters with a 20-second gap, but after pitting for the medium C4 tyre, he was met with puddles and no grip on the it exit, as Verstappen stormed through to retake the lead.

Lando Norris during practice for the 2024 Canadian GP | McLaren F1 Team
Lando Norris led the 2024 Canadian GP at one stage. | McLaren F1 Team

Russell and Norris continued to swap positions after going off line and into the wet, while Hamilton lost valuable seconds just when he was catching the top four. And it looked like Verstappen was on course for another victory as he continued to post fastest laps. But the jeopardy wasn’t over – far from it. Sergio Perez hit the wall on Lap 52 and broke his rear wing, forcing him to limp back to the pits and retire.

On the same lap, Sainz spun and collected an unfortunate Alex Albon, sending the Williams man ended up in the wall. Sainz later retired, meaning Ferrari would leave Canada with nil points.

Both Russell and Hamilton pitted for fresh tyres during the safety car while the rest stayed out. And with 12 laps to go, five cars were within a chance of winning – Verstappen, Russell, Norris, Piastri, Russell and Hamilton – but the former held his nerve to cross the line first.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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