Max Verstappen takes 100th Red Bull F1 win at Canadian GP


Red Bull celebrated 100 F1 wins after Max Verstappen took victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, ahead of a closely-matched Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen holds winning trophy from 2023 Canadian Grand Prix

Getty Images via Red Bull

Max Verstappen delivered Red Bull’s 100th grand prix victory in now-trademark fashion with an unchallenged lights-to-flag win.

Behind him saw a lively start to the race, with plenty of overtaking and incidents that saw George Russell drop to the back after hitting a wall; Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton fight for second; and the Ferraris move up from 10th and 11th on the grid to fourth and fifth.

The closing laps looked as if they might bring a second round of what was an intense but short battle between Hamilton and Alonso, as the latter limited his use of overheating brakes and Hamilton started a charge.

But he picked up his pace before Hamilton moved into strike range and kept the Mercedes at bay — his underlying pace suggesting that he could have put more pressure on Verstappen without the brake issue.

“We were hoping to challenge the Red Bull a little bit more but we lost a place at the start,” said Alonso. “Lewis was pushing all the race so I didn’t have one lap where I could relax.

“We had a bit more pace, so next [race, we’ll be] putting more pressure on Max.”

Max Verstappen leads at the start of the 2023 Canadian GP

Verstappen led into Turn 1, with Hamilton already past Alonso

Getty Images via Red Bull

Tyre wear was higher than expected after the track was washed clean by Saturday’s rain. Most cars made two stops, but the Ferraris managed to stretch their rubber further than anybody else. Both drivers ran longer than anybody else on their first set of medium tyres, and remained on their second set all race to complete a recovery from a dismal qualifying.

They were followed home by Sergio Perez and Alex Albon who also stretched his tyres on a one-stop strategy and fended off increasing pressure towards the end.

“Today with the 100th GP for the team, that’s incredible,” said Verstappen. “It’s amazing. I never expected to be on these kind of numbers myself. We keep enjoying, we keep working hard.

“It was not a straightforward race because the tyres were not getting in their window. It was very cold today. The grip was disappearing quickly.”

Max Verstappen leads at 2023 Canadian GP hairpin

Verstappen heads the field as they reach the hairpin

Getty Images via Red Bull

A sluggish start from Alonso’s Aston Martin left Verstappen clear in the lead at the start. Hamilton easily moved into second and Russell almost followed him through too.

Behind him, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz fought a first-lap battle after starting 11th and 12th. The Red Bull initially went past at the hairpin, but Sainz then snatched back the place in the long run to the final chicane.

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It didn’t take long for Alonso to start challenging to take second place back, and was right underneath Hamilton’s rear wing by lap five.

A virtual safety car briefly paused the battle — as the Williams of Logan Sargeant, who had been told to stop the car, was recovered.

Nico Hülkenberg, who had qualified second before a penalty dropped him to fifth on the grid, was running seventh at this point at the head of a long train of ten cars, unable to overtake each other.

He benefitted from lucky timing when the red flag was waved just after setting his fastest lap in qualifying on Saturday, but his good fortune ran out when he was called in to the pits just before Russell hit the wall on lap 12.

The Mercedes bounced over a kerb, the rear swung out and slammed into the wall, rotating the car so that the front then swiped it too.

Damaged Mercedes of George Russell in 2023 Canadian GP

Russell heads back to the pits after hitting the wall

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The ailing car limped back to the pits, leaving a trail of shattered carbon fibre in its wake, which brought out the safety car.

Most drivers took the chance to pit while cars were lapping slowly and Hülkenberg lost out, slipping to 15th.

The top three all changed tyres and remained in position — only just as Alonso had to slam on his brakes to avoid Hamilton who had been released into his path.

Both Ferrari drivers remained on their medium tyres, however and took the restart with Leclerc fourth and Sainz fifth, ahead of Perez, Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon, who also had not stopped.

Meanwhile Russell made it back to the pits and was sent out with a new nose, running 19th and last.

Fernando Alonso follows Lewis Hamilton in 2023 Canadian GP

Alonso shadows Hamilton as he aims for second

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Alonso took advantage of the pack being closed up to pass Hamilton at the restart. He pulled alongside the Mercedes at the end of lap 22 and seized the inside line into the final chicane.

But Hamilton wasn’t prepared to give up and sat inches from Alonso’s rear wig down the start-finish straight and into Turn 1.

Alonso placed the car perfectly and started to pull out a gap, but it was a fight that looked to have potential.

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As drivers complained of tyre wear, a second round of stops began from lap 30 — with the Ferraris still on their starting tyres.

Russell was moving up the order, helped by a duelling Kevin Magnussen and Nyck de Vries who made contact in Turn 1, ran wide and allowed the Mercedes past. De Vries then locked up at the next corner and ran down the escape road, taking Magnussen — on the outside — with him. Both drivers reversed out but slipped to the back.

This, and the pitstops, put Russell into the points by lap 37 but he would ultimately retire with a brake issue. The Ferraris then eventually pitted and retained their places, with team orders used to prevent Sainz challenging Leclerc.

Charles Leclerc leads Carlos Sainz in 2023 Canadian Grand Prix

One-stop strategy brought Ferraris into the top half of the points

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The leaders also made a second stop; Alonso opting for the hard compound while Verstappen and Hamilton were fitted with mediums.

The Aston Martin emerged 5.3sec ahead of Hamilton but that gap started to come down as Alonso was told to lift and coast before corners, which reduces braking and is typically used to save fuel or to reduce brake temperature.

A frustrated Alonso pleaded for the chance to hunt Verstappen down but instead watched Hamilton move closer in his mirrors.

A battle for second looked to be building up but just before Hamilton moved into DRS range, Alonso was given the freedom to up his pace and opened the gap again.

Even so, Hamilton was pleased with the result. “It’s been a great weekend for us. We’re slowly chipping away,” he said. “I was excited to be third and trying to be in that mix.

“We knew this wouldn’t be our strongest circuit. We were losing out in slower corners – in traction out of pretty much every corner; we need more rear downforce and more efficiency.

“Max was a little bit gone but I think our pace was a little bit closer today.”