Canadian GP: Max Verstappen overcomes wet-race chaos to beat rueful Lando Norris, George Russell to win – Sky Sports


F1’s world champion returns to winning ways after emerging on top in a hugely unpredictable race in changeable conditions; Lando Norris second after twice leading, with George Russell pipping Lewis Hamilton to third after polesitter made several errors; Ferrari record dismal double DNF
Senior Sports Journalist
Monday 10 June 2024 10:20, UK
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Max Verstappen won a chaotic and gripping Canadian Grand Prix with Lando Norris and George Russell left to reflect on what might have been after a race of high drama amid on-off rain in Montreal.
In an unpredictable 70-lap race that featured four changes of lead and two Safety Car periods triggered by crashes, Verstappen impressively returned to winning ways a fortnight after Red Bull’s miserable Monaco for his sixth win of the season to re-establish a more comfortable world-championship lead, of 56 points.
McLaren’s Norris twice led the race – the first time after overtaking both Verstappen and Russell – but had to settle for second after the cards did not fall in his favour, particularly under the first Safety Car.
Polesitter Russell ended up third for Mercedes and looked particularly crestfallen after a topsy-turvy race in which he made several mistakes and collided with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.
Dropping to fourth after that latter incident following the race’s second Safety Car period, Russell was then overtaken by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who went on to overtake Piastri cleanly soon afterwards and move into the final podium place with five laps to go.
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But Russell rallied and, after getting by Piastri at the second attempt, repassed Hamilton on the penultimate lap to ensure he was still the driver to seal Mercedes’ first Grand Prix podium of 2024 in the season’s ninth round.
Fourth still represented Hamilton’s best result on a Sunday so far this year, although the seven-time Montreal victor, who qualified six places behind Russell in seventh, still described it as “one of the worst races that I’ve driven”.
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Overtaken by both the Mercedes’, which had been the only leading cars to pit for a second set of dry tyres, Piastri ended up fifth in the second McLaren.
Aston Martin took sixth and seventh with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, Canada’s home driver, respectively.
In a competitive race-long fight for the final points positions, Daniel Ricciardo fought back from a five-second time penalty for a jump start to cap the best weekend of his disappointing season so far with eighth.
Alpine also scored crucial points with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon ninth and 10th. Ocon, however, was angered by the team’s instruction to let Gasly pass him in the closing laps in the hope of catching Ricciardo.
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Ferrari remain Red Bull’s nearest challengers in the Constructors’ Championship but their Montreal weekend – which many pundits had installed them as favourites for after winning in Monaco – turned into the stuff of nightmares.
Having already slumped to a double Q2 exit in qualifying to leave them starting outside of the top 10, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz struggled in the race and both eventually retired to bring up the Scuderia’s first point-less race since Australia 2023.
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2) Lando Norris, McLaren

3) George Russell, Mercedes

4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

5) Oscar Piastri, McLaren

6) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

7) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

8) Daniel Ricciardo, RB

9) Pierre Gasly, Alpine

10) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
A power unit problem stymied Leclerc’s afternoon, while Sainz dropped out of what was ninth when he spun on a wet kerb at Turn Six. The spinning Ferrari collected a luckless Alex Albon, whose Williams Sainz had just overtaken.
Ferrari are now 49 points behind Red Bull, although the world champions only scored with Verstappen after Sergio Perez’s own miserable weekend – which had seen the Mexican drop out in Q1 – failed to improve in the race. He collided with Gasly on the first lap and then retired with broken rear wing after spinning and hitting the Turn Six barriers.
The Montreal weekend had already been dominated by changeable weather before the onset of two heavy downpours in the hours before the race ensured that Sunday’s action was also going to be anything but predictable.
With the vast majority of the field opting to start the race on the intermediate tyres – apart, that is, from the two Haas cars, who went for the grippier but slower full wets – Russell maintained his starting advantage over Verstappen and Norris as the field gingerly pulled away from the grid in search of where the grip was amid the very slippery conditions.
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Initially enjoying more purchase from the treacherous surface with rain still falling, the Haas pair proved the big early movers and Kevin Magnussen was especially flying, the Dane going from 14th to fourth in the space of five laps.
But the track soon started to come back to the intermediate runners as the rain began to ease – Magnussen pitted on lap eight to change tyres and duly dropped back down the order – with Russell opening an early advantage of around two seconds over Verstappen, with Norris a little further back but still very much in touch.
But, as a drier line started to slowly appear, it was the Mercedes driver’s chief pursuers who started to find more speed and close down Russell’s lead – with Norris looking particularly strong.
After Verstappen had dropped slightly back on Russell by outbraking himself at the first chicane, Norris overtook the Red Bull with DRS down the backstraight on lap 20 – a trick he repeated on Russell to seize the race lead one lap later.
First then quickly became third for Russell, who took to the run-off area after Norris overtook into the final chicane and slipped behind Verstappen too.
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But just as it looked as though Norris was about to take firm control of proceedings, the McLaren driver quickly surging into a lead of around 10 seconds inside four laps, the Safety Car was deployed when Logan Sargeant spun his Williams out of Turn Five and ended up sideways on the inside of the track after making race-ending contact with the wall.
The timing could not have been worse for Norris and McLaren.
With the Briton already at the final corner, where the pit entry is located, when Race Control confirmed they were initiating the Safety Car, Norris stayed out for what proved a costly extra lap.
With the luxury of more time to decide what to do, Red Bull reactd by immediately pitting Verstappen, as did Mercedes with Russell, for another set of the intermediate tyres.
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By the time Norris, who had spent his additional lap on track running behind the controlled speed of the Safety Car, pitted and rejoined with his own fresh inters, he was back behind the two cars he had just overtaken.
This time though, it was Verstappen who was ahead.
After five laps behind the Safety Car to allow Sargeant’s stricken Williams to be cleared away, the race restarted on lap 30 with teams’ eyes on the pit walls still very much trained on the weather and a looming judgement call on when to make what increasingly appeared an inevitable switch to dry tyres.
For the leading trio the moment arrived on lap 46.
Verstappen and Russell again pitting simultaneously but Norris once more stayed out – this time for two extra laps.
However, this time it initially appeared as though McLaren’s strategy might just work to sensational effect as while Norris was still running strongly on his intermediates, the lead Red Bull and Mercedes cars were taking time to get their slicks up to temperature on the still-slippery track.
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McLaren’s ‘overcut’ got their driver back ahead of Russell for second, although not quite Verstappen for the lead too despite Norris actually emerging on to the track from the pit lane slip just ahead of the Red Bull. But the world champion’s slicks were by now already up to temperature and he quickly powered ahead of the McLaren within a matter of metres
As Verstappen quickly opened a comfortable lead of around four seconds, Norris had his hands full with Russell who pounced on the McLaren to retake second after his countryman locked up at the hairpin.
But Russell then inexplicably gifted the place straight back two laps later after he ran slightly wide and got out of shape through the Turn Eight-Nine chicane.
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The Sainz-Albon tangle on lap 54 then triggered the race’s second Safety Car and another twist in the absorbing race.
It was Mercedes’ turn to roll the strategy dice this time as they pitted both their cars for another set of slick tyres, a move which cost Russell third and track position to Piastri but theoretically gave him and Hamilton, one place further behind, a tyre advantage for the restart when there would be 11 laps to go.
But hopes Russell had of at least charging back into second, or even putting late pressure on Verstappen for first, were undone at the end of lap 63 when an attempted overtake around the outside of Piastri into the final chicane saw the two cars make light contact and the Mercedes again take to the inside run-off.
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To compound matters for Russell, the lost momentum out of the corner allowed Hamilton to sneak past. The seven-time world champion got the job done on Piastri himself two laps later to take over third place.
But Russell was not quite finished for the afternoon yet and ended up salvaging third for himself by cleanly overtaking Piastri on lap 66 before winning out in a wheel-to-wheel duel with Hamilton two laps later.
But having started on pole after an impressive qualifying and led the race’s challenging first 20 laps, a frustrated Russell admitted on Mercedes team radio on the cool-down lap: “Ugly race on my behalf. Sorry for that. I’m very sorry for that.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 1st:
“It was a pretty crazy race, a lot of things were happening. We had to be on top of our calls.
“As a team, we did well today. We remained calm, pitted at the right time. The Safety Car worked out nicely for us but even after that, we were managing the gaps quite well.”
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Lando Norris, McLaren – 2nd:
“To be honest, I felt like I drove a good race the whole time from start to finish. The first two stints were very strong. I had amazing pace. But then the Safety Car had me over, just like it helped me in Miami, it’s now had me back over.
“Honestly, I thought it was a pretty perfect race from my side. Just a bit unlucky, but that’s what it is. But it was good fun.”
George Russell, Mercedes – 3rd:
“It felt like a missed opportunity. We were really quick on the inters at the beginning, then Lando came through. Then we jumped back on the slicks. I made a couple of mistakes out there, pushing the limits and paid the price for it.
“Nevertheless, first podium of the year. We truly had a fast car this weekend and to be in the mix fighting for victory was really fun.
Formula 1 heads back to Europe as the championship moves on to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from June 21-23 live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime
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