Canadian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen equals record of all-time F1 great with victory

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen leads the start of the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal June 2023.

Max Verstappen holds the lead ahead of Fernando Alonso heading into Turn 1. Montreal June 2023.

Max Verstappen took his 41st career victory at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, pulling him level with Ayrton Senna in the all-time standings.

It was a fourth victory in a row for the World Championship leader and he was rarely troubled all afternoon, despite the margin of victory in front of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton being significantly lower than it has been of late.

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz recovered well from starting outside the top 10 to both make it into the top five come the chequered flag, with Sergio Perez coming home sixth and losing further ground to his team-mate in the Drivers’ standings – with Verstappen now 69 points in front at the top.

Following a wet qualifying session that was followed by several grid penalties, Alonso would start alongside Verstappen on the front row after Nico Hulkenberg was dropped from P2 to P5 at the start after driving too fast under red flag conditions.

And when the lights went out, Hamilton got a superb getaway and immediately jumped past the Aston Martin to take second place behind Verstappen, with Ocon leapfrogging Hulkenberg and into the top five.

Elsewhere, Kevin Magnussen suffered a dicey moment under braking into Turn 13 and took to the grass on the outside and was forced to cut the chicane onto the pit straight, almost colliding with the back of Sergio Perez in the meantime.

At the same time, Perez was being passed around the outside by Carlos Sainz, who had been penalised for impeding in qualifying, in a brave move by the Ferrari driver.

Alonso, clearly pushing to make up for a rare lost position at the start, clipped the wall on the exit of Turn 4 as the Aston Martin driver set about trying to retake second place from Hamilton.

Eight laps in, the race claimed its first retiree as Logan Sargeant suffered an apparent power unit failure. He was quick to climb out of his Williams at Turn 5 and the Virtual Safety Car was deployed but, given where he was parked, he was able to get cleared away quickly and racing could resume without full Safety Car intervention.

While he eased clear into the distance from Hamilton, the most drama Verstappen had is that he believed he “hit a bird” while going on the opening laps.

But soon afterwards, the Safety Car was out after George Russell took a hefty whack on the exit of Turn 9, whacking the kerb on the inside before slapping into the wall on the outside.

This prompted a flurry of pit stops, not least the leaders – and with Alonso having a quicker stop than Hamilton, the pair very nearly collided as the Mercedes driver came out of his pit box, which was very quickly noted by the stewards.

Russell, meanwhile, was somehow able to crawl back to the pit lane with a puncture and damage, but while it dropped him to the back of the field, he was able to get back out and keep going – albeit with his W14 being “a bit bent” after damage.

Only the Ferrari pair, who were promoted to fourth and fifth, Perez in sixth, Magnussen and Bottas in P7 and P8 respectively did not pit under Safety Car conditions  – with Perez in particular looking to extend his stint after starting on hard tyres.

But at the front, after biding his time Alonso was able to find his way back through into second place.

The Aston Martin driver got a good run out of the Turn 11 hairpin on Hamilton, with DRS assistance allowing him to get past the Mercedes into the braking zone at Turn 13, with the two former team-mates in a hard-but-fair duel on track.

The hard tyres were not lasting as long as anticipated and DRS trains were forming in the midfield, with Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly both opting to pit for a second time to try and get some free air in order to hopefully make up positions later in the race.

But Magnussen was falling away from contention and Nyck de Vries was next to try and pass him, with the pair making contact at Turn 1 and Russell nipping past both of them at Turn 2.

Their battle continued towards Turn 3 and De Vries looked to move up the inside, but there was further contact and they both ended up going straight up the escape road, leaving a lengthy period of time where they both needed to reverse back on track – dropping them both to the back of the field and going a lap down in the process.

Further forward, Leclerc, Sainz and Perez all pitted after the halfway mark and managed to hold onto P4, P5 and P6 respectively after the pace they showed mid-race, with Alonso and Hamilton also coming in for a second time.

Given the gap he had in front, this allowed Verstappen the opportunity to stop again too, with he and Hamilton opting for medium tyres and Alonso going for hards with around 30 laps still remaining. recommends

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Even though Verstappen was in front once again, Alonso was defiant about his chances, running only five seconds behind the Red Bull driver on pace around lap 48 when he radioed in to ask when he could stop lifting and coasting, because “I want to win the race.”

Verstappen and Red Bull appeared to have pace in hand, however, as the Aston Martin driver was not quite able to make the headway he was looking for as the laps progressed.

Further back, Russell’s recovery drive was going well as he was running eighth behind Albon, but he was forced to retire with a brake issue as they were overheating.

Instead of chasing down Verstappen and being able to push, Alonso was actually being reeled in by Hamilton again behind heading into the final 10 laps – reducing a four-second gap down to 1.5s in double-quick time.

When informed of the gap behind him, Alonso responded: “Copy. Leave it to me.”

And the two-time World Champion was correct to get his team to let him work as he wanted, gradually re-opening the gap to Hamilton and holding on to second place as the three World Champions in the field occupied the three places on the podium.

Further back, Albon did a sterling job keeping a lengthy DRS train behind him at bay to take a creditable seventh place finish, his highest finish with Williams, and a five-second penalty for Lando Norris for unsportsmanlike behaviour under Safety Car conditions dropped him from ninth on the road to P13 and out of the points when the penalty was applied.

Race classification: 2023 Canadian Grand Prix

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 1:33:58.348 70 laps
2 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +9.570
3 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +14.168
4 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +18.648
5 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +21.540
6 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +51.028
7 Alexander ALBON Williams +60.813
8 Esteban OCON Alpine +61.692
9 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +64.402
10 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +64.432
11 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +65.101
12 Pierre GASLY Alpine +65.249
13 Lando NORRIS McLaren +68.363
14 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +73.423
15 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +1 lap
16 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
17 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +1 lap
18 Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +1 lap