A final showdown was, with the field bunched up when a safety car period ended with 15 laps to go. Verstappen led but Sainz, with fresher tyres, was in the hunt for his debut victory.
From restart to the chequered flag, the Spaniard piled on the pressure, rarely dropping less than half a second behind the reigning champion, but it wasn’t to be.
Verstappen and Sainz had alternated the race lead as a series of safety car periods — mostly virtual — had given plenty of opportunities to make pitstops with minimal time loss, but not necessarily at the times that teams had wanted to.
Verstappen was an early stopper along with Hamilton after the first virtual safety car (VSC) for a hapless Sergio Perez who retired with what appeared to be a transmission issue.
It left the pair looking to complete more than 60 laps on their hard tyres, while Sainz had left it later — and also benefitted from a VSC.
When Verstappen had to stop again, the Ferrari driver looked favourite for his first F1 win, but then Yuki Tsunoda hit the barriers, a safety car was deployed, and Sainz had to stop for new tyres to avoid being a sitting duck to Verstappen who had stopped more recently.
The Ferrari had the pace — setting the fastest lap of the race — but there was no way past for Sainz.
After starting second, and running a longer first stint than his rivals, Fernando Alonso finished behind team-mate Esteban Ocon, while both Alfa Romeos finished in the top ten; Zhou Guanyu finishing ahead of Bottas.
Here’s how the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix played out:
Alonso had said that he’d attack Verstappen at the start but he never got a chance on lap 1 as the Red Bull picked up and shot away.
Kevin Magnussen, from fifth on the grid, had got a run on fourth-placed Hamilton and as the due went wheel to wheel in the opening corners, the Haas’s front wing end flap was damaged after brushing the Mercedes‘ front-left wheel.
Esteban Ocon and George Russell both leapfrogged Mick Schumacher, who started sixth, while Leclerc began his fight through the pack by passing Nicholas Latifi for 18th place. He was one of only five cars to start on the hard tyre, instead of the more popular medium, along with Sergio Perez who started 13th after his qualifying crash.
Sainz within 0.5sec of Alonso as lap 3 began and ended it in second place, having passed the Alpine in the run up to the final chicane. He crossed the line 3sec behind Verstappen, but couldn’t then pull away, soon complaining of tyre graining.
Alonso remained less than a second behind the Ferrari, but Hamilton behind quickly closed in to DRS range.
After making it into Q3 for the first time this year, Zhou Guanyu continued his strong weekend by going past Daniel Ricciardo for ninth place.
Magnussen came in for hard tyres and a new nose at the end of lap 7.
Sergio Perez charged to second place in the championship after a win in Monaco and second place finish in Baku but it wasn’t to be in Canada. A crash in qualifying saw him start 13 and then his weekend was over on lap 8. “I lost the engine,” he said as his car coasted to a halt.
With a virtual safety car in place, Verstappen and Hamilton pitted to take advantage of the reduced time loss, which left Sainz in the lead ahead of Alonso, and both cars facing more than 60 laps on the same set of tyres if they weren’t to stop again.
Sainz was 5sec ahead of Verstappen at the restart on lap 11, with Russell a further 4sec behind.
Next came Ocon, closely followed by Hamilton who found his way past on the run up to Turn 1 on lap 12.
Behind, Schumacher and Zhou battled for 7th, while Leclerc was 13th having not stopped, and on the hard tyre.
He moved up to 12th, past Norris on lap 14, and soon found himself behind Bottas where he would struggle to pass for some time, as the Alfa Romeo also battled the Williams of Albon ahead.
Verstappen was within 0.5sec of Alonso by lap 15 thanks to a series of fastest laps and breezed past the Alpine with DRS on the final straight, 5.5sec behind the leader Sainz.
Bottas passed Albon on the outside of the final chicane on lap 17, and Leclerc immediately followed down the start-finish straight, moving away from Norris who had closed back up.
Sainz, his mediums past the graining period by lap 19, was told that tyre degradation was normal.
But there was soon a pit call to make as Schumacher rolled into retirement from seventh after a failure.
The resulting virtual safety car saw the leader pit on to hard tyres, as did Russell, Ocon, Zhou, Vettel and the McLaren duo: a slow 6.5sec stop for Ricciardo was followed by a bigger disaster for Norris when the pit crew fitted the wrong front left tyre and had to change it.
It left Verstappen leading Alonso, who still hadn’t pitted, by 9sec. Sainz had rejoined third, 10sec behind the leader and he was soon past the Alpine.
Further back, Leclerc had benefitted from McLaren’s troubles and was up to eighth, which soon became seventh ad he passed Bottas.
Hamilton was next to pass Alonso at the start of lap 24, moving into third, 3.5sec behind Sainz.
As Sainz gradually closed in Verstappen, Leclerc was harrying Ocon in sixth, while a battle for ninth was raging between Stroll, Zhou and Tsunoda, who on lap 28 were all within 1.5sec of the other.
Alonso pitted at the end of lap 28 for hard tyres , dropping from fourth to seventh, promoting Leclerc to sixth, as the Ferrari driver continued to try and find a way past the Alpine and having not yet stopped, more than 40sec behind the leader.
Verstappen led by 8sec on lap 34, but radioed in that he was losing tyre grip, with more than half the race still remaining.
Charles Leclerc finally made a pitstop on lap 42, swapping his hard tyres for mediums and dropping from sixth (still behind Ocon) to 12th. Verstappen was dreaming of fresh tyres, saying that his were “really starting to drop”.
Red Bull called in the race leader for more hard tyres on lap 43, which promoted Sainz into the lead and saw him exit side by side with Hamilton; the Mercedes driver having greater momentum and claiming second place.
That euphoria lasted just over half a lap as Verstappen passed the Mercedes on the final straight and Hamilton was called into the pits, stopping for another set of hard tyres and resuming in fourth.
By lap 45, Leclerc was back up to tenth and in the points, having passed Ricciardo down the inside of Turn 8 and Tsunoda in the final chicane. He was closing fast on Zhou Guanyu.
Russell was next to pit from third, dropping to fourth, 7.8sec behind his team-mate.
Leclerc’s progress continued as he passed Zhou on lap 48, but Verstappen was the quickest car on track, setting fastest laps as he looked to close the 8sec gap to Sainz, his team telling him that he could push to the end, with wear not a limiting issue.
Stroll’s pitstop meant that Bottas, running seventh was the only driver yet to change tyres and his patience was rewarded as a safety car was deployed on lap 49.
Yuki Tsunoda had slid into the barriers as he exited the pitlane on cold tyres, and the strategists swung into action.
Sainz gave up track position to fit another set of hard tyres, but only dropped to second; directly behind Verstappen as the safety car bunched the field up.
Bottas made his stop and barely lost out, running in eighth, while Ocon and Alonso also changed tyres, all three running mediums.
As the race resumed on lap 55, with the remaining cars running nose-to-tail, Verstappen led Sainz from Hamilton, Russell, Ocon, Alonso, Leclerc, Bottas, Vettel and Zhou.
Ricciardo was just outside the points in 11th and followed by Magnussen. Norris was down in 16th, between the Williams with a 5sec penalty due to speeding in the pitlane.
Zhou passed Vettel for ninth on lap 56 and the Aston Martin soon dropped out of the points when Ricciardo followed him past to take tenth.
Sainz remained within a second of Verstappen when DRS was enabled on lap 57, but couldn’t immediately find a way past the Red Bull.
The sister Ferrari was making progress, however, Leclerc passing Alonso on lap 59 and then clearing Ocon on the following lap.
Sainz continued piling the pressure on Verstappen, but was still behind on lap 64, as Hamilton followed 3.5sec behind, 4.6sec ahead of his team-mate.
Stroll was the latest driver to take 10th place in the hotly-contested final points-paying position, passing Ricciardo.
The duel for the lead continued until the flag, but Verstappen managed to hold and led Sainz over the line by 0.9sec.
2022 Canadian Grand Prix results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||70 laps||25|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+25.2sec||4|
|9||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||+26.9sec||2|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+38.2sec||1|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+44.2.sec|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1min 81.sec|
|20||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||DNF|
*Includes additional point for fastest lap