Max Verstappen held off a late challenge from Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix and further extend his championship lead on Sunday.
As Formula 1 returned to Montreal for the first time in three years, it was Verstappen’s Red Bull who took the checkered flag to take a 46-point lead at the top of the standings.
Sainz was quick in the closing stages after a spell behind the safety car but couldn’t find a way past Verstappen and had to settle for second place, the pair joined on the podium by Lewis Hamilton – the sevenfold world champion taking third place for Mercedes.
His team-mate George Russell continued his season-long top-five record by taking fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc, who recovered from 19th to earn a decent number of points for Ferrari.
The Alpines finished sixth and seventh, with Esteban Ocon managing to finish ahead of Fernando Alonso, while Valtteri Bottas, Guanyu Zhou and local favorite Lance Stroll completed the points.
Verstappen galloped off the line and into the first corner well ahead of Alonso, who had impressed in qualifying to make his first start from the front row in a decade.
Hamilton had started an impressive fourth and held off a challenge from Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, with Alonso passed by Sainz on lap three.
A virtual first safety car for the retirement of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull sister, apparently with an engine problem, allowed a series of pit stops with Verstappen and Hamilton among those to put on fresh tyres.
A similar situation occurred on lap 19 as Mick Schumacher was forced to retire, this time the VSC allowing Russell to stop as Sainz also came to a stop and Verstappen regained the lead.
With Perez out, another of Verstappen’s title rivals worked their way through the field as Leclerc overcame a 10-place grid penalty after replacing engine parts on Saturday.
The Monegasque, however, found himself stuck behind Ocon to check on his progress, a slow pit stop then forcing him back down into the peloton.
The sold-out crowd on Île Notre-Dame was treated to a rare example of a battle between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the protagonists of last year’s title neck and neck as the Dutchman left the pits.
Sainz stayed away to take the lead and was able to pass under a safety car on lap 49 after Yuki Tsunoda crashed into the AlphaTauri, entering Verstappen’s gearbox straight on the restart.
There was no drama when the safety car broke away, but Sainz kept Verstappen honest, closing within a second and pushing for a pass in the closing stages.
But, while Leclerc passed both Alpines to improve his position, Sainz had no answer up front as Verstappen took the 26th win of his career and his fifth in the last six races.
There had been doubts over whether Hamilton would even drive in Canada after suffering back pain due to the amount of porpoises he suffered at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend.
But a mix of acupuncture and cryotherapy prepared him for the race and he took third place, just his second podium of the season.
“It feels good, I feel young again,” he replied when asked about his back at the end of the grand prix.
“It’s quite overwhelming to get that third pace, it’s been such a battle this year as a team – I’m so proud and inspired by my crew.
“They are a bit too fast for us at the moment, I gave it my all and we are getting closer and closer.
“I could barely see (the leaders) at the end thanks to the safety car, our pace was pretty good so honestly I’m ecstatic, I didn’t expect that to happen this weekend.
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