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Formula 1: Chequered Flag - Canada GP Review

20 June 2022 07:33:20 EST
Red Bull remain the dominant force in Formula 1

Max Verstappen laid down yet another marker for a second consecutive title after holding off a late Carlos Sainz challenge to win the Canadian Grand Prix and go 46 points clear of team-mate and nearest rival Sergio Perez.

The Dutchman was on pole position in Montreal and was handed a golden opportunity to extend his championship lead after Saturday's qualifying with Red Bull team-mate Perez crashing out in Q2, while Charles Leclerc was forced to start from the back of the grid due to an engine change.

With 15 laps to go in Sunday's race, the field was bunched up following a safety car and with Sainz's Ferrari on fresher tyres, there was the potential for fireworks in the closing stages.

Although Sainz came close thanks to DRS on the back straight, Verstappen had just enough pace to hold on for the win and he is now 1.083 to lift a second straight title with Leclerc - who came from the back of the grid to record a fifth-place finish - at 8.50, and Perez rated at 251.00.

Verstappen remains the class of the field

At the beginning of the season, there was a feeling there could be a genuinely close title tussle between Red Bull and Ferrari, reminiscent of the battle between Red Bull and Mercedes last year.

However, since the Australian Grand Prix, Red Bull have won all six races and Verstappen has taken charge of the championship.

There was some good luck for the 24-year-old thanks to Saturday's qualifying but Verstappen still had to drive a solid race and he certainly did that.

While he is often known for his daredevil-esque driving style and combative overtakes, Verstappen had to showcase a calmer and more pragmatic approach when being chased down late on by Sainz.

Everything seemed stacked in the Ferrari's favour as his fresher rubber looked set to serve him well on the abrasive track surface.

However, Verstappen ultimately finished in front by nine-tenths of a second to cement his grip on the title race.

Not all rosy for Red Bull

While Verstappen had a wonderful weekend, team mate Perez was less fortunate as both Saturday and Sunday proved tricky for the Mexican.

Qualifying saw him out crash out of contention in Q2 meaning he started the race in 13th, with lots of work to do.

Then, reliability issues dogged Red Bull once more on Sunday as Perez retired after just nine laps with suspected transmission problems.

There have been a curious number of retirements between Red Bull and Ferrari this year - nine in total between the four drivers across both teams.

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This time, Perez was the unlucky one as he pulled off and saw his hopes of challenging for the title take a big hit - the bigger the gap Verstappen creates, the more likely it is for Red Bull to adopt team orders once more in the Dutchman's favour.

Some light for Mercedes and Hamilton

It has been a hugely difficult year for Mercedes and in particular, Lewis Hamilton, who is having to fight tooth and nail just to try and keep up with the Red Bull and Ferrari.

The new technical regulations have certainly not brought out the best in the Silver Arrows with their car way off the pace at the front.

They have been worst affected by the porpoising epidemic that is a consequence of the lower ride height that has been permitted and the seven-time world champion has looked jaded after racing on many occasions.

So, it will have been a welcome relief for Hamilton to finish on the podium for the first time this season with Mercedes having improved his car's performance.

Hamilton, who had started from fourth on the grid, looked particularly competitive in the early stages against Carlos Sainz and finally it seems as though Mercedes have a springboard for the rest of the season - albeit far too late to make a title challenge.

George Russell ended the day fourth meaning it was Mercedes' best result of the season and Hamilton's aim will be to catch his team-mate in the standings as he currently lies 34 points behind.

Silverstone up next

Next on the F1 calendar is one of the most prestigious races of the year as the sport heads to its spiritual home for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

It has been a track dominated by Mercedes over the years, winning eight of the last nine races.

Even though Red Bull have performed strongly in recent years, it is a track where they have an apparent blind spot with Mark Webber the last man to have triumphed for them back in 2012.

Last year saw a high-speed shunt between Hamilton and Verstappen at Copse corner with the Dutchman launched off the circuit and he will certainly be hoping for a more serene drive in a fortnight's time.

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