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REPORT: Verstappen gets payback to deny Norris in chaotic Canada

Matt Clayton
Monday, 10 June 2024

Max Verstappen was on the wrong side of a safety car call in Miami in May, but capitalised on Lando Norris staying on track for one extra lap to pounce and take control in Montreal.

Call it even. Six weeks after a fortunately-timed safety car saw McLaren’s Lando Norris deny Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen a win in Miami, the tables were turned in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, the reigning world champion the beneficiary of an interruption that gave him track position and a clear road to a sixth win of the Formula 1® season.

In a rain-lashed race where conditions varied by the lap, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve was always likely to produce multiple safety car periods, the first of which came on lap 25 when Logan Sargeant (Williams) crashed and blocked the track at Turn 4.


Norris, leading the race from third on the grid after passing Verstappen and pole-sitter George Russell (Mercedes) as the track dried, stayed on track for one extra lap after his two front-running rivals pitted, rejoining in third and relinquishing his advantage.

Verstappen controlled the race from there, with Norris managing to overtake Russell for second after his second pit stop on lap 47. A second safety car caused by an accident between Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Alex Albon (Williams) closed the field up again for an 11-lap dash to the finish, but Verstappen immediately bolted to a two-second lead once racing resumed before taking victory by 3.879secs.

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Norris has his hands full with Russell and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final laps, both of whom had pitted for fresh tyres under the second safety car. Russell overtook Hamilton with three laps to go to take third, and was just 0.4secs behind Norris at the chequered flag.

While Verstappen was back to his winning ways after finishing just sixth in Monaco last time out – Sunday’s victory was his third in a row in Montreal – it was a disastrous weekend for Ferrari duo Sainz and Monaco winner Charles Leclerc, both of whom retired as Ferrari failed to score for the first time this season.

It was worse for Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez; the Mexican, given a contract extension by Red Bull in lead-up to Canada, was eliminated in Q1 for the second straight race, started 16th, never ran higher than 13th and crashed out at Turn 6 with 19 laps left.

Aussie watch

Oscar Piastri was in contention for a second straight podium after finishing second in Monaco a fortnight ago, but came home fifth after being unable to hold off Russell and Hamilton, armed with fresher tyres, in the closing laps.

From fourth on the grid, the McLaren driver spent the majority of his race in that same place as Verstappen, Russell and Norris all took turns at the front of the field, but was powerless to resist the progress of the Mercedes duo as the laps ticked down, falling from third with six laps left to fifth on tyres that were 10 laps older.

Daniel Ricciardo scored his first Grand Prix points of the season with eighth for RB, the 34-year-old qualifying a season-best fifth on Saturday and overcoming a five-second jump-start penalty and being out of sequence on pit stops to elevate himself to 12th in the championship standings.

Ricciardo was 12th before the Sainz/Albon incident, and then gained two more places in the final six laps at the circuit where he won his first Grand Prix for Red Bull Racing 10 years previously.

Unsung hero

Points looked a long shot for Alpine before Canada, and even more so after qualifying when Pierre Gasly was 15th and Esteban Ocon 18th, Ocon then demoted five places to the back of the grid after his controversial clash with his teammate on the opening lap of the previous race in Monaco.

So to finish 9th (Gasly) and 10th (Ocon) was commendable, if – as is so often the case with Alpine – things weren’t exactly straightforward.

In a race that saw 18 of the 20 drivers start on intermediate tyres, Gasly was the first driver to risk running slicks when he stopped on lap 25, gaining track position that raised him to the fringes of the top 10 before late retirements elevated him further.

One of those came from a team order on the penultimate lap, Ocon told to let Gasly past in a bid to attack Ricciardo, the team later saying Ocon had “a suspected power unit issue”. Ocon, who announced after Monaco that he’d be leaving the team at the end of the season, was unimpressed.

“Not the happiest to be honest,” he said.

“I did my part of the job, being a team player … being the nice guy. Too nice. We were not going to catch Daniel, that was the reason for the call.”

Number to know

27: In years, the gap between dead heats in qualifying after Russell and Verstappen both recorded Q3 laps of 1:12.000 in Montreal. At the European Grand Prix at Jerez in 1997, Jacques Villeneuve (Williams), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) all set times of 1:21.072 in qualifying.

Canadian Grand Prix: top 10

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) 1hr 45mins 47.927secs
  2. Lando Norris (McLaren) +3.879secs
  3. George Russell (Mercedes) +4.317secs
  4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +4.915secs
  5. Oscar Piastri (McLaren) +10.199secs
  6. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +17.510secs
  7. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +23.625secs
  8. Daniel Ricciardo (RB) +28.672secs
  9. Pierre Gasly (Alpine) +30.021secs
  10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +30.313secs

Standings (top 5)

Drivers' championship

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) 194 points
  2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
  3. Lando Norris (McLaren) 131
  4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 108
  5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) 107

Constructors' championship

  1. Red Bull Racing (301 points)
  2. Ferrari (252)
  3. McLaren (212)
  4. Mercedes (124)
  5. Aston Martin (58)

Next race

Round 10: Spain, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (June 21-23)