Ruthless Verstappen now in total control of title race: 2022 Canadian GP report


Max Verstappen withstood 15 laps of pressure from Ferrari's Carlos Sainz to win the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix and stretch his championship lead even further

Max Verstappen sprays champagne on the podium after winning the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Dan Istitene/F1 via Getty Images

There’s an air of invincibility around Max Verstappen at the moment, as he appears to have clicked into a higher gear just when he has needed to.

It’s not that Verstappen was in any sort of trouble, but with Ferrari stumbling he has taken full advantage to assume complete control of his title defence. And in Montreal he delivered a different type of win that could yet prove crucial come the end of the season.

Verstappen arrived with an advantage of 21 points over team-mate Sergio Perez, but more tellingly 34 points over Charles Leclerc, and by the time qualifying came around he knew that Leclerc would be starting from the back of the grid.

With an opportunity to stretch his lead, Verstappen was ruthless.

His pole position was perhaps underrated given the immense advantage he held throughout the wet session, but with Fernando Alonso alongside him the wishful thinking was that the Spaniard could steal the lead on the opening lap and then we might have a race on our hands.

Verstappen was having none of it, getting the best launch of the field and pulling comfortably clear of the Alpine behind.

Start of the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Verstappen shot into an instant lead at the start

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The closest battle had seen light contact between Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen at Turn 3, with the Dane suffering slight front wing damage. After a radio message from Esteban Ocon about a part potentially falling off, the stewards told Magnussen to pit for a replacement, ruining his race.

“I just had a bit of contact, nothing serious,” Magnussen said. “Scratched my front wing a little bit and then was told to pit.

“I was just talking to Ocon now and he was just joking how he told the FIA that it was really bad. If you know you can influence the FIA like that, you’re going to do it, aren’t you? Which is what he did. Fair play. But you’ve got to let us drive with that s**t, it’s nothing.”

Ahead of Hamilton, it only took until the third lap for Sainz to make his way past the lead Alpine of Alonso and he was within three seconds of the leader, but then Alonso stayed with his countryman and Verstappen eased slightly further clear before taking advantage of a virtual safety car to make a first pit stop on Lap 9.

The cause of the VSC was the sister Red Bull as Sergio Perez retired with a suspected gearbox issue, and Verstappen slotted into third place behind Sainz and Alonso but still within touching distance of the lead.

Broken front wing endplate on the Haas of Kevin Magnussen

Broken front endplate ruined Magnussen’s race

Lars Baron/F1 via Getty Images

The space behind Alonso had been vacated by Hamilton who also stopped under VSC, both switching to hard tyres and committing to a two-stop strategy. Hamilton cleared an Alpine more quickly by passing Ocon robustly for fifth, while Verstappen got past Alonso using the powerful DRS on Lap 15 and set off after Sainz.

A similar opportunity for a quick stop opened up for the leading Ferrari when Mick Schumacher retired in the same spot as Perez, but a second VSC was just ending on Lap 20 when Sainz came into the pits, meaning he didn’t get the same benefit as Verstappen and dropped to third, running nearly ten seconds behind Verstappen once he was back in second place a few laps later.

It was hardly a classic but as Sainz chipped away at Verstappen’s lead there was a sense that the Ferrari had real pace. Leclerc had been making steady if unspectacular progress before getting bottled up behind Esteban Ocon fighting for sixth, but Sainz was steadily closing the gap at the front.

Struggling a little with his tyres, Verstappen had made his second stop already – and cleared Hamilton using DRS to run second once again – by the time Yuki Tsunoda dropped it exiting the pits on cold rubber and hit the barrier, bringing out a safety car.

Yuki Tsunoda gets out of his AlphaTauri after crashing in the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Yuki Tsunoda’s crash brought out the safety car, closing up the field for a grandstand finish

Florent Gooden / DPPI

Sainz took the chance to stop along with Ocon, Alonso, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu — all top ten runners — limiting the time loss. While Sainz emerged behind Verstappen, it still wasn’t music to the championship leader’s ears as the six-lap tyre offset set up a grandstand finale.

“I expected to have a little bit more pace but we seemed to lack a little bit compared to Carlos – that’s the only one I could compare to with the Ferrari – and it was a bit more difficult than I expected,” Verstappen said.

“But we did our strategy and I think for us it worked, that was the right one to do, and I think that second stop of course I had the fresher tires and I was closing in on Carlos but I was not sure if I actually would fully close that gap to the end of the race.

“But then the safety car came out and I was also not happy with that because then I knew that he had fresh tyres behind me, and already with I think a little bit more pace compared to me that it’s difficult to defend.”

Max Verstappen leads Carlos Sainz in the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Verstappen leads at the safety car restart


But defend he did. For the final 16 laps, the top two pushed hard in the fight for the win, with Sainz able to stay within DRS range throughout and regularly close on Verstappen but struggle to actually launch a move.

“It was super-close all the time,” Verstappen said. “He was constantly in my DRS, I think not once he dropped out of it so the pressure is always on.

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“You always had to make sure that the places where he had DRS you had a good exit the corner before, but it was really about pushing to the limit and not making a mistake in general. Because I knew that even in Sector 1, if I would make a tiny mistake then Carlos would gain a tenth on me and that might have been enough to then get closer in the first DRS zone and then in the second.

“So it was proper racing, proper pushing. I had my moments where I had a bit of oversteer and then I looked in my mirror and saw Carlos having the same amount of moments! So it was really on the edge and that’s good to see.”

Sainz was looking forward, focused on Verstappen’s rear wing. But every time he would cross the finish line 0.4sec adrift and then slip slightly back before the DRS zones brought him close again.

Max Verstappen leads Carlos Sainz in the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Verstappen led Sainz over the line by 0.9sec

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“I was pushing flat out,” Sainz said. “I wasn’t leaving any inch to the walls under braking. I was pushing everything with the battery. I tried everything to pass Max, but today we just didn’t have enough pace delta to get him close enough in the hairpin to then get him a bit out of line into the chicane. But the positive thing is that we were quicker, we were faster all race, it’s just that little bit more to overtake around here.”

Behind them, Hamilton had enjoyed a relatively trouble-free second half of the race, and even threatened to stick with the front two after the Safety Car period.

“It feels great today, to be in amongst the battle and for a second at the end there, I was just about keeping up there with these guys, but they pulled away at the end,” Hamilton said.

It still marked a second podium of the season for Hamilton, and back-to-back ones for Mercedes after George Russell in Baku. Russell himself made quick progress through the field – passing both Haas drivers into the hairpin – to run fifth by the fifth lap, and was promoted to fourth as Alonso faded with a power unit issue.

Charles Leclerc overtakes Esteban Ocon in the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Leclerc passed both Alpines in the closing stages to finish fifth

Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Alonso’s closing stages were a battle as he sat within DRS range of his team-mate Ocon after both were impressively overtaken by Leclerc under braking for the hairpin. In sixth, Ocon was towing Alonso along to try and keep the Alfa Romeo pair at bay, but on the final lap Bottas got well within range and had to lift on the run to the last chicane as Alonso moved in a straight line.

The stewards weren’t impressed and handed Alonso a five-second time penalty, demoting him to ninth behind Bottas and Zhou, with Lance Stroll clearing a struggling Daniel Ricciardo for the final point in his home race.

The winning margin of 0.9sec was as big as the gap ever was between the top two in the final stint, and Sainz admitted he “was the fastest man on track” throughout, but with Verstappen not putting a tyre wrong under extreme pressure, he came home with another 25 points that pushes the Ferrari pair further adrift.


2022 Canadian Grand Prix results

Position Driver Team Time Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1hr 36min 21.757sec 25
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.993sec 19*
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +7.006sec 15
4 George Russell Mercedes +12.313sec 12
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +15.168sec 10
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine +23.890sec 8
7 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +22.247sec 6
8 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +26.952sec 4
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine +29.945sec** 2
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +38.222sec 1
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +43.047sec
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +44.245.sec
13 Alex Albon Williams +44.893sec
14 Piere Gasly AlphaTauri +45.183sec
15 Lando Norris McLaren +52.145sec
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams +59.978sec
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1min 08.180sec
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri DNF
19 Mick Schumacher Haas DNF
20 Sergio Perez Red Bull DNF

*Includes additional point for fastest lap
** Includes 5sec penalty