Max Verstappen wins the Canadian Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – Maxsports
May 19, 2024

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Max Verstappen wins the Canadian Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton

Not even a bird strike could stop Max Verstappen driving his name further into Formula One folklore with the lights-to-flag victory at the Canadian Grand Prix that lifted him level with Ayrton Senna on 41 career wins.

Such was his dominance as the sun finally broke out across a grey weekend in Montreal that pretty much the only drama of his afternoon – apart from the avian jaywalker, which became lodged in the brake duct for 58 of the 70 laps – was self-generated concern about losing grip on the cool asphalt.

He made the point about his tyres so incessantly that his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, known as GP, came on with doctor’s orders. ‘We’ve got the message. Just get your head down.’

Perhaps the Dutchman’s temperature reading was rising unnecessarily. The timing screens suggested it was. For at that point, Verstappen was in control of affairs.

By the end, the margin over Aston Martin’s runner-up Fernando Alonso was nearly 10 seconds, with Lewis Hamilton third for Mercedes.

Max Verstappen secured another victory as he prevailed at the Canadian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen secured another victory as he prevailed at the Canadian Grand Prix

Following his latest success, Verstappen has now matched Ayrton Senna's tally of 41 wins

Following his latest success, Verstappen has now matched Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 wins

The Dutchman led every lap at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to extend his championship lead

The Dutchman led every lap at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to extend his championship lead 

This was Red Bull’s 100th victory on a day of landmarks – not bad for a fizzy drinks company.

So Max Emilian Verstappen, at just 25, had equalled the great Brazilian Senna, who died of injuries sustained at Imola three years and four months before the current double world champion was born in Hasselt, Belgium, in September 1997.

He had achieved the feat from 171 starts. Senna managed it from 161.

‘I hate to compare different generations, but when I was a little kid in go-karts dreaming about being an F1 driver I never imagined I would win 41 grands prix. To tie with Ayrton is incredible. I am proud of that, but I hope it doesn’t stop here.’

Now only four legends stand ahead of Verstappen in the pantheon of the most winning drivers: Hamilton (103), Michael Schumacher (91), Sebastian Vettel (53) and Alain Prost (51).

He was cut out for the top from the start, his father Jos being a fast and furious driver, and his mother Sophie Kumpen a star go-karter. He holidayed with Schumacher as a boy. This game is in his genes and it is all he ever wanted to do, or still wants to do. He has a simulator in his motorhome, for heaven’s sake.

This victory – his 15th in 19 races – never looked in doubt all weekend. He was sure-footedly dominant in the wet in qualifying and then made a blistering start, pulling away from Alonso at the front of the grid. By the end of lap one he had a lead of just under a second, and in the next blink he had almost doubled that advantage. He was beyond DRS range, and so it remained for the rest of the afternoon.

One chance for the chasing pack presented itself on the withdrawal of a safety car brought into play when Mercedes’ George Russell hit the wall on the exit of Turn 9, 12 laps in. But on the re-start Verstappen charged away, opening up a barely credible gap of some five car lengths over Hamilton, then lying second, within a corner or two.

Verstappen, who notched up Red Bull's 100th win in Formula One, leads Perez by 69 points

Verstappen, who notched up Red Bull’s 100th win in Formula One, leads Perez by 69 points

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso finished in second place in the race in Canada

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished in second place in the race in Canada

As for the bird on its final flight, Red Bull boss Christian Horner later revealed it was black and medium-sized.

Later in the contest, Verstappen had time to laugh. ‘I almost knocked myself out on that kerb, ha-ha-ha,’ he chuckled. No wonder, for his championship lead after eight rounds stands at 69 over team-mate Sergio Perez, who finished sixth. Fourteen mismatches remain, the next in Austria on July 2.

For Hamilton, it was an encouraging showing. He made a brisk start from third on the grid to pass Alonso on the inside of the opening bend. However, the Spaniard made the decisive retaliatory move on the final chicane 22 laps later.

By then the pair had nearly become entangled in the pit lane as they both pitted under the safety car. Hamilton’s stop was slightly slower than Alonso’s and he barrelled back out almost into the path of the Aston. ‘I had to brake,’ wailed Alonso.

In the Mercedes garage, Toto Wolff gestured that Alonso had steered erratically as if suffering a fit in an attempt to dupe the stewards into penalising his man. The officials investigated the incident as a possible case of ‘unsafe release’, but acquitted Mercedes of the charge.

‘We are slowly chipping away,’ said Hamilton. ‘We will bring more upgrades.’

Lewis Hamilton finished in third place with his team-mate George Russell retiring on lap 55

Lewis Hamilton finished in third place with his team-mate George Russell retiring on lap 55

Alex Albon gave a good account of himself as he finished in seventh place for Williams

Alex Albon gave a good account of himself as he finished in seventh place for Williams

Hamilton’s team-mate Russell retired while running eighth with front-left brake wear after 55 laps. He was full of apologies for his coming together with the wall earlier. His team had done well to patch him back together after that.

A largely dull race had its moments. McLaren’s Lando Norris was handed a five-second penalty for unsporting behaviour for driving too slowly under the safety car. And AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen snarled to a brief halt after a two-left-feet close dance.

One late moment of worry presented itself as the rear wing on the Alpine of Esteban Ocon flapped precariously. Norris, close behind, warned over the radio that this spelt danger. For him.

With his punishment, and a late kamikaze move on Ocon that misfired, the Briton finished 13th.

A ripple of applause for Alex Albon, a fine seventh for Williams. The London-born Thai is proving himself a driver of some distinction.

But it is Verstappen who currently stands alone, a worthy heir to Senna.