The Canadian Grand Prix was decided by less than a second.
That’s right, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen managed to hold on by 0.9 seconds, edging ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who was hot on his tail for the final 15 laps. The two exchanged the lead numerous times early on in Montreal, but safety cars threw an extra twist into the drama on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
But alas, Sainz will continue to hunt for his maiden Formula One victory. The Spaniard said over the team radio, “I tried everything there guys.”
A Mercedes driver rounded out the podium, but it was not George Russell this time. Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton battled his way up to third while his younger teammate kept his top-five finish streak alive and well with a fourth-place finish.
But, the surprises didn’t end there—Charles Leclerc powered from a 19th-place start to a fifth-place finish.
Here’s three takeaways from the first Canadian Grand Prix since 2019.
Safety cars kept Montreal interesting.
It’s no secret that after the 2021 season finale, Formula One fans have a love hate relationship with safety cars. But in Montreal, it added a little bit of spice to the standings, and shook up the grid.
Disaster struck early as Sergio Pérez’s Montreal nightmare continued. During qualifying, he ploughed his Red Bull into the wall, triggering a red flag during Q2. Pérez was then forced to retire early during Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix as he slowed to a crawl.
Teammate Verstappen pitted, re-emerging in third while Sainz led the race. But, a continuous race pace only lasted for less than 10 laps when another mechanical failure struck. Mick Schumacher came to a halt in lap 19. Haas F1 tweeted that it was “due to a suspected PU issue.”
The grid found their stride, Leclerc continuing to weave his way through the top 10 until lap 49. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda came flying out of the pits, unable to stay on track. He rammed right into the barriers.
Tsunoda’s wreck worked in Sainz’s favor, the Ferrari driver diving into the pits with a 3.7-second stop time. The safety car compressed the grid, practically eliminating the time gaps between each car. Sainz exited the pits on hards and narrowed the space between him and Verstappen with 20 laps to go.
Sainz was not able to overtake despite being faster in the final sector, Verstappen running away with a win on his 150th F1 start.
IMAGO / HochZwei
A three-team race emerges to the Constructor title.
It’s no secret that Mercedes largely has struggled this season despite Russell’s consistency. Hamilton’s car has suffered pretty major porpoising issues as the seven-time world champion was visibly in pain when exiting his car in Baku last weekend.
Hamilton described the car as “undriveable” and a “disaster” after Friday’s practice but went on to qualify fourth the next day. Hamilton admittedly was on a high, saying “it feels very very similar to my first qualifying in Australia 2007 in terms of excitement.”
The Mercedes star turned into his first podium finish since Bahrain—the first race of the season.
“It’s quite overwhelming, honestly, to get this third place,” Hamilton said after the race. “It's been such a battle this year with the car and as a team. But we continue to stay vigilant and focused and never giving up.
“That’s something I’m so proud of, and I’m inspired by my crew. So thank you to everyone that’s here and back at the factory.”
He was just seven seconds away from Verstappen when he crossed the finish line. And while it’s been a battle of Ferrari and Red Bull so far this season, Mercedes is slowly creeping into the equation.
“They’re a little bit too fast for us at the moment but we’re getting closer, so we gotta keep pushing,” Hamilton said.
The team standings have stayed the same after the Canadian Grand Prix with Red Bull leading with 308 points despite Pérez’s second DNF of the season, Ferrari is second with 228 points and Mercedes closing the gap in third. They trail by just 40 points.
Team principal Toto Wolff referenced the saying “one swallow doesn’t make a summer” during his post-race press conference, highlighting how Mercedes struggled Friday but did better on wets come Saturday. And although the two stars were competing with the front runners, Wolff said, “We just need to be careful. There’s so much work we need to do in order to be back at the front, and we were not yet there.”
What could happen when the Mercedes drivers return home to Silverstone? The circuit has historically been one of Hamilton’s best, the Brit winning the last seven of nine competitions.
“Silverstone was good to us in the past, and the circuit is more smoother than the last three months. But it’s not Barcelona,” Wolff said. “So now we should manage our own expectations and just really grind away, look at the data, and come up with some sensible solutions, not only for Silverstone but going forward.
Let’s talk about porpoising.
The aerodynamic phenomenon has been the talk of the grid this season but especially during this stretch from Baku to Montreal, as drivers complained about the pain they’ve felt and raised long-term health concerns.
In case you missed it, the FIA issued a technical directive earlier this week to the Formula One teams after drivers raised safety and health concerns in regards to the porpoising they have felt this season, especially in Baku. The governing body acted swiftly, finding it “necessary to intervene to require that the teams make the necessary adjustments to reduce or to eliminate this phenomenon.”
“The FIA has decided to intervene following consultation with its doctors in the interests of safety of the drivers. In a sport where the competitors are routinely driving at speeds in excess of 300km/h, it is considered that all of a driver’s concentration needs to be focused on that task and that excessive fatigue or pain experienced by a driver could have significant consequences should it result in a loss of concentration. In addition, the FIA has concerns in relation to the immediate physical impact on the health of the drivers, a number of whom have reported back pain following recent events.”
But not everyone seemed 100% in favor of the intervention, including both he drivers and also the team principals.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Verstappen were both outspoken about their thoughts on the matter, the latter driver stating during Friday’s press conference, “Regardless if it’s going to help us or work against us, I think always these rule changes in the middle of the year, I don’t think it’s correct.”
“I understand the safety part of it, but I think if you talk to every engineer and in the paddock, if you raise your car, you will have less issues anyway…You’re going to try to find the limit of what you can cope with, your body itself, for performance, but I don’t think it’s correct that now they have to intervene and start applying these kind of rules that if you can’t deal with the porpoising that you have to go up on ride height, because it is very simple: just go up on ride height and you won’t have these issues.”
Wolff didn’t hold back critiquing the other team principals’ “pitiful” behavior and playing politics on Saturday after a heated meeting over the directive. Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer said during the morning press conference Saturday that he, “Believe[s] every team has that opportunity to do so. Just increase the ride height. It will be safe and you have to do nothing else. It’s just some choose not to and lobby the FIA to make changes.”
Wolff, whose team has been the most vocal about the pain and bouncing this season, wasn’t having it.
“Team principals trying to manipulate what is being said in order to keep the competitive advantage, and trying to play political games when the FIA tries to come up with a quick solution to at least put the cars in a better position, is disingenuous,” he said later on Saturday, per Reuters.
Russell confirmed to Sky Sports after the Canadian Grand Prix that “it was definitely bumpy, but we weren’t porpoising.” Wolff, during his press conference on Sunday, referenced a stiffness in the car when asked whether the bouncing could be more of a circuit related issue than car related one.
“What we are seeing is the bouncing or the purposing has been greatly reduced. And I think that the drivers kind of got on with it,” Wolff said. “What we see in the cars is just a stiffness. You look at some of the slow motions from the two leading cars and the Alpines, you see that they are bouncing off the curb in a very hard way. And this is what the drivers actually complained—the stiffness of the car. And this is something we need to look at and how we can reduce the impact. And of course, you know, the smoother the track, the lower the curbs, the less we see this phenomenon.”
Bonus Takeaways, as seen on social media.
F1 paid tribute to one of Ferrari’s best drivers, Gilles Villeneuve, who died 40 years ago. The Canadian dominated the F1 circuit, tallying six wins and 13 podiums in his six year F1 career. He died during the ’82 season after a wreck at the Belgian GP qualifying.
Both Leclerc and Sainz started Sunday’s Grand Prix from specially painted grid boxes paying tribute to the legend.
And last but not least, happy Father’s Day to all the past, present and future dads and father-like figures in our lives. Genetics don’t define what a father is but rather how you show your love and offer guidance as we navigate different chapters in life. Thank you for all you do.
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The Canadian Grand Prix was decided by less than a second.