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Verstappen shuts out Norris and wet weather to win Canadian Grand Prix
F1 Sport

Verstappen shuts out Norris and wet weather to win Canadian Grand Prix

The weather did its best and through four seasons in one day, the rain, gloom and the bright sunshine delivered what was a thrilling and tense fight for the Canadian Grand Prix, albeit one that ended with the familiar result of a win for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman deserved it, conquering what were at times immensely tricky, wet conditions to beat McLaren’s Lando Norris into second, the British driver believing he could have won but for the timing of a safety car in a race also notable for the remarkable pace of the Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton powered from seventh on the grid to claim fourth, after a battle at the death with his teammate George Russell, who was third.

After an opening in the rain and a track that then dried and was once more hit by a brief downpour, the race was defined by the changing conditions. The teams vying for any advantage as the drivers felt their way round the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with the top five as closely matched as at any race this season. It closed as a dry track came to a charging Hamilton, enjoying pace such as Mercedes have not seen all year, as he and Russell went wheel to wheel for the final podium place.

Much as it was Verstappen’s sixth win of the season and has extended his title lead to 56 points over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who retired with a powerunit issue, it was far less straightforward than many he has enjoyed, after no little tussle with Norris and Russell, while the latter then had to vie with Oscar Piastri, who was fifth and Hamilton in what was a race-long scrap.

Indeed perhaps had they not been at it with such intensity, the advantage switching between McLaren and Mercedes as conditions changed, one might have taken the fight to Verstappen, certainly Norris had early in the race.

Mercedes will take great heart nonetheless, at times Russell and Hamilton were the quickest cars in the field, a remarkable turnaround after their torrid start to the season.

With anticipation and expectation high for the team, who had hoped they might be beginning to understand and better manage the scope of variation in performance of their car, the race was an attempt to kickstart their season and this will be welcomed as an enormously positive step.

“It is becoming a car we can fight with,” said Hamilton. “This weekend the car was capable of winning.”

Mercedes’ George Russell (second left) and Max Verstappen in MontrealView image in fullscreen

A series of incremental upgrades had been applied to the car since Miami, with a new front wing brought to Monaco and the cumulative effect it seems is now being felt, with both Russell and Hamilton happier with the car in Canada than anywhere else this season, although Hamilton bemoaned the mistakes he had made during the race, believing he could have performed even better.

At the close, as Hamilton caught the leaders and passed Russell who made an error, one of several which peppered his race, with Mercedes allowing its drivers to race Russell came back to pass the seven-time champion for third on the penultimate lap, it was gripping stuff.

The win will be one Verstappen and Red Bull too will be enormously pleased with at a circuit where they had expected to struggle and coming after a tough weekend in Monaco where the Dutchman managed only sixth.

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The sport then enjoyed three teams in the mix for the win which is enormously welcome and Verstappen might well have been denied, with McLaren and Norris appearing to be victims of ill-fortune. After a close opening 20 laps of cautious racing on a slippery track Norris found the grip coming to him and flew, passing both Verstappen and Russell for the lead by lap 21.

He was untouchable and opened up a four-second gap within a lap and half but when a safety car was called on lap 25, McLaren had a brief moment to pit but opted not to do so. Verstappen and Russell did stop while Norris, having been picked up by the safety car, lost ten seconds before he could pit and he emerged in third, an advantage lost he could then not make up. It had turned in a moment and Norris insisted afterwards the team could have pitted him in time.

As Verstappen edged away, through another round of stops for slick tyres and another safety car, the fight for the podium places remained intense, the positions changing hands almost to the flag, in what was a fine finale. A genuinely unpredictable fight that suggests there really could be a proper contest yet at the front of the field with 15 meetings still to come.

Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll were in sixth and seventh for Aston Martin, Daniel Ricciardo in eighth for RB, with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in ninth and tenth for Alpine.

Source: theguardian.com