Max Verstappen held off Carlos Sainz to win the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix and extend his lead in the drivers’ championship.
Pole-sitter Verstappen led the opening nine laps before pitting when a virtual safety car was called when his teammate Sergio Perez stopped with a suspected gearbox issue.
This gave Sainz, who overtook Fernando Alonso early on, the lead until he made his first pit stop when Mick Schumacher‘s Haas came to a halt at Turn 8 on Lap 20.
Sainz came out 11 seconds behind Verstappen as the pair began to trade lap times, with the Ferrari driver trimming the lead to eight seconds at the halfway mark of the Grand Prix.
Verstappen made his second pit stop on Lap 45 and was about to make a late-race charge on a two-stop strategy against Sainz on a one-stop.
However, a crash for Yuki Tsunoda a Turn 2 caused a safety car meant Sainz pitted, only to just come out behind Verstappen but had tyres that were five laps fresher.
Sainz pressured Verstappen on the laps after the restart, setting the fastest lap of the race and attacking the kerbs of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but the Red Bull driver didn’t put a foot wrong despite having team radio problems during the latter stages of the Grand Prix.
On a couple of occasions, Sainz got very close going into the final chicane, but he didn’t have enough to get by Verstappen who resisted the late onslaught to win his sixth race of the season.
“I was pushing flat out, I wasn’t leaving an inch,” Sainz said after the race. “I was pushing everything, with the battery. I tried everything to pass Max. Today we didn’t have the pace delta.”
Hamilton picks up a podium
Lewis Hamilton took his second podium of the season, finishing ahead of George Russell for the first time since the season-opening Bahrain GP.
Hamilton pitted under the first virtual safety car, before overtaking Alonso, who was hindered by strategy, and managed his tyres for the remainder of the race.
Russell pitted later on and also had a quiet drive to fourth after making two impressive overtakes on the Haas pair of Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen early in the race, as he maintains his streak of finishing every race in the top five.
Damage limitation for Leclerc
Charles Leclerc started the Canadian GP from 19th due to power unit penalties and had a rollercoaster afternoon on his way to fifth place.
Leclerc was stuck in a DRS train for the majority of the race, initially behind Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon, and later frustrated by Alpine‘s Esteban Ocon.
Things got worse when Leclerc had a slow pit stop and came out behind a train of cars including Daniel Ricciardo, Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu.
But, he moved up the order with some overtakes on his fresher medium tyres and was helped by the safety car.
He overtook Alonso and Ocon on the restart to finish fifth, but now trails Verstappen by 49 points in the F1 driver standings.
Perez retires early on
Perez‘s title hopes took a hit when he retired from the Canadian GP after just nine laps with a suspected transmission issue.
The Mexican initially reported an engine problem as he pulled off at Turn 8, but the sound of his car when it broke down hinted at a gearbox failure, a claim backed up by team principal Christian Horner.
Having crashed out in qualifying, Perez‘s DNF was the final nail in the coffin for him to end a nightmare weekend.
Verstappen is now 46 points ahead of Perez heading into the British GP at Silverstone which takes place on July 1-3.