Verstappen Holds Off Sainz In Canada
Formula 1 logistics never cease to amaze me even after so many years in the sport and, just five days after its latest visit to Azerbaijan in Eastern Europe last weekend, this season’s campaign resumed many miles away across the Atlantic in Montreal and at the conclusion of today’s Canadian Grand Prix it was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who reached the chequered flag first to claim the victory spoils ahead of a chasing Carlos Sainz for Ferrari.
Verstappen extended his championship lead after overcoming pressure from Sainz
In the build-up to the Canadian event it was announced last Thursday that the contract to hold the annual Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, which still has three years to run, has been extended for a further decade, with the new expiry date being 2035. This move simply reflects how venues are keen to secure their long term F1 futures in the face of growing competition from elsewhere.
When those famous red lights went out we had a clean start as Verstappen established an early lead ahead of Alonso, Sainz and Hamilton...
On the same day the FIA governing body issued a technical directive referring to short and medium term measures to address the issue of the porpoising of cars, which teams have been suffering from this season with varying degrees of severity. The FIA stepped in on the grounds of safety as it was believed that severe oscillations could impact driver concentration at high speeds and increase the risk of accidents as well as potentially harm drivers’ bodies even without crashing. In Montreal the FIA’s main aim was all about observation and data gathering, with an intention to subsequently issue a technical set-up requirement to each team to limit the amount of permissible porpoising for its cars, even if this would impact negatively on performance.
2022 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix
1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1hr36m21.757s
2 Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.993s
3 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +7.006s
4 George Russell (Mercedes) +12.313s
5 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +15.168s
6 Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +23.890s
7 Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +24.945s
8 Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +25.247s
9 Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo) +26.952s
10 Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +38.222s
11 Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +43.047s
12 Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +44.245s
13 Alex Albon (Williams) +44.893s
14 Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +45.183s
15 Lando Norris (McLaren) +52.145s
16 Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +59.978s
17 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +1m8.180s
18 Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) Retired
19 Mick Schumacher (Haas) Retired
20 Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) Retired
Mercedes had been calling for rule changes as their cars seemed to be porpoising and bottoming out more than others due to its design and their preferred set-up choices, but the changes referred to by the FIA, whilst improving ride quality, could slow their cars, which is very much not the outcome the Brackley based team was hoping for. All those teams who had already done a better job of designing their cars to minimise porpoising were understandably not happy for the rules to be changed during the season, thereby helping Mercedes to reduce their own problems and make them more competitive.
As the teams’ strategists planned their approach to this weekend they were all well aware that overtaking is definitely possible at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Île Notre-Dame artificial island in the Saint Lawrence River just across from downtown Montreal. Another factor to consider was that, with the pit stop time loss being just 18 seconds, it is the lowest on the whole calendar, reducing the potential impact of stopping more than once, even if a one-stop race would probably be the preferred option barring adverse weather or accidents causing Virtual or Full Safety Car interventions.
Sainz impressed, but had to settle for the runner’s-up spot on the podium
In Friday’s opening free practice session Verstappen, who made his 150th F1 race start today, had set the fastest time ahead of Sainz and Alpine’s Spanish veteran Fernando Alonso before the Dutch reigning champion again topped the timesheets in the same day’s second practice period. On this occasion both Ferraris were the best of the rest, headed by Charles Leclerc, with Aston Martiin’s Seb Vettel fourth and Mercedes’ George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton only fifth and 13th quickest respectively. This left the latter to describe his car as “undriveable”. The Monégasque Leclerc had needed a new power unit following his retirement from the race lead in Baku last time out, but faced a ten place grid penalty in Canada after his team fitted a further new control electronics unit beyond his season’s allowance of two. Worse was to follow though when the installation of additional replacement parts meant he was destined to start today’s Grand Prix from the back row of the grid.
In yesterday’s final practice session rain dominated the conditions and a mix of full wet and intermediate tyres were very much needed as Alonso, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Vettel led the way. This was followed by the qualifying hour, during which the track remained somewhat treacherous, and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez proved it by crashing during the second part of the three stage process, bringing out the red flags. Come the end of the top ten shootout it was Verstappen who claimed pole position for today’s race, with Alonso impressively joining him on the front row of the grid and Sainz and Hamilton just behind them. The real surprise though was the two Haas cars driven by Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher making the third row their own. Russell’s brave late gamble to risk slick tyres failed to pay off and he had to settle for starting eighth.
Hamilton was delighted to finish third for Mercedes
Today’s Grand Prix was set to begin at 14.00 local time, so 19.00 back in the UK, and the weather was much improved, with dry conditions and a mixture of warm sunshine and just a scattering of clouds. When those famous red lights went out we had a clean start as Verstappen established an early lead ahead of Alonso, Sainz and Hamilton and as early as lap three the battle of the Spaniards saw Sainz get the better of his older adversary, whilst Russell soon made up three places to run fifth.
For 2023 the F1 authorities have vowed to try to reduce the amount of constant relocating back and forth around the world for cost and environmental reasons...
On the eighth tour Pérez was forced to park his car trackside after a suspected gearbox issue, forcing the intervention of the Virtual Safety Car procedures. Verstappen and Hamilton immediately took advantage of this to make their first pitstops, switching from medium to hard specification tyres before the short VSC period ended. Five laps later Red Bull’s championship leader swept past Alonso into second place behind the leading Sainz, who, like the Alpine driver, had still to stop.
Leclerc battled hard to end up fifth after starting from the back
On lap 20 you had to feel for Schumacher as he was forced to retire his Haas at the same spot where Pérez had suffered a similar fate earlier. This triggered a further VSC period and Russell swiftly pitted for his change to hard rubber, as did Sainz. After racing had resumed, Verstappen led from Sainz and a yet to stop Alonso and, when the latter eventually did so, the leading quartet became Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton and Russell. By lap 46 the leading Sainz was the only front runner yet to have made a second pitstop, but he did so just three tours later during a full Safety Car intervention after Yuki Tsunoda had crashed his AlphaTauri at Turn 2 following a pitstop of his own.
The Safety Car period ended with 16 laps remaining and Sainz pushed Verstappen all the way to the chequered flag, but was never quite close enough to make a pass despite having DRS assistance. To their rear Hamilton completed the podium trio ahead of his team-mate Russell, Leclerc (who ultimately made it from the back of the grid to a fifth place finish) and the Alpines of Ocon and Alonso. Sainz also claimed the extra point for the fastest lap of the race.
Magnussen qualified a mighty fifth yesterday, but ended up only 17th today
For 2023 the F1 authorities have vowed to try to reduce the amount of constant relocating back and forth around the world for cost and environmental reasons, but this is no easy task with the level of interested parties with contracts already in place. However, placing that to one side for now, everyone packed up in Montreal simply looking forward to heading home before congregating again in two weeks’ time at Silverstone for a sell-out British Grand Prix. Rest assured I’ll bring you all the news from there come the time.
2022 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship
1 Max Verstappen 175
2 Sergio Pérez 129
3 Charles Leclerc 126
2022 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship
1 Red Bull 304
2 Ferrari 228
3 Mercedes 188