Formula 1: Max Verstappen wins chaotic Canadian Grand Prix

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 09: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 09, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen won his sixth Formula 1 race of the 2024 season on Sunday. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix was not your typical Max Verstappen win.

Verstappen got his sixth win of the season ahead of Lando Norris after a chaotic race that included a wet track at the start of the race and multiple safety cars.

Verstappen took over the lead on lap 49 of the 70-lap race when Norris pitted. Norris stayed out longer than anyone else on intermediate tires as the track dried. But as he rejoined the track next to Verstappen, he didn’t have the grip that Verstappen did while on a damp pit exit road.

That allowed Verstappen to sneak ahead and he kept the lead after the final restart of the race. Verstappen easily sprinted away from Norris with 12 laps to go as Norris held onto second ahead of the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. Russell briefly fell to fifth in the final laps of the race after he went off-track while racing with Oscar Piastri, but he passed Piastri and Hamilton for the final podium spot.

Russell started on pole and held the lead over Verstappen and Norris as the track was soaked at the start of the race from a pre-race shower. The Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg started on the wet tires as everyone else was on the intermediate tires and made their way through the field with their extra traction. Magnussen got into the top five but was quickly relegated from contention thanks to a slow pit stop after the wet tires lost their effectiveness.

The first safety car of the race came for Logan Sargeant’s crash and the leaders all pitted for new intermediate tires despite a drying track because more rain was on the way. As the track started the drying process over again, the McLarens of Norris and Piastri looked to be the fastest cars.

However, Norris might have stayed out a lap too long. Hamilton jumped into fifth during the first safety car and was the first driver in the top five to put on slick tires. His pit stop made the drivers ahead of him react, as Verstappen, Russell and Piastri all pitted soon afterward.

As McLaren’s drivers both finished in the top five and Verstappen got the winner’s share of points, Ferrari lost a ton of ground in the constructor’s standings.

Charles Leclerc was the second driver to retire from the race after dealing with an engine issue at the start. Ferrari put slick tires on Leclerc’s car during the first safety car, but that was a bad decision. Leclerc had to pit again and then went a lap down before retiring his car.

His teammate Carlos Sainz then caused the second safety car period. Sainz spun and collected Alex Albon on lap 54. The incident forced both Sainz and Albon to retire their cars, and meant that neither Ferrari nor Williams had a car that finished the race.

Ferrari entered the race 24 points behind Red Bull in the constructor’s standings and is now 49 points back of Red Bull after Sergio Perez crashed and didn’t score any points for the leaders. McLaren, meanwhile, gained 30 points on Ferrari and is now 38 points back of the Scuderia.

The season could get a lot more interesting if the pace that Mercedes showed in Montreal is a harbinger of things to come.

Hamilton posted the fastest lap of the final practice session on Saturday and Russell then got the pole with a lap on older tires before high winds ruined both Mercedes’ drivers final runs on fresh tires.

Sunday, the two drivers had the speed to keep up with both Verstappen and the McLaren cars. Hamilton was trapped behind Fernando Alonso at the start of the race but jumped ahead of him during a pit stop after Sargeant’s crash.

Once Hamilton was past Alonso, he had plenty of pace to keep the top four in striking distance and even posted the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.

Russell’s third-place finish is the first podium of the season for the team that was so incredibly dominant in the 2010s. If Mercedes really has figured out its car — and remember, there have been multiple mirages of sustained pace since the start of the 2022 — then it could very well become a four-team fight at the front of the field.

1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2. Lando Norris, McLaren

3. George Russell, Mercedes

4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

5. Oscar Piastri, McLaren

6. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

7. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

8. Daniel Ricciardo, VCARB

9. Pierre Gasly, Alpine

10. Esteban Ocon, Alpine

11. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

12. Kevin Magnussen, Haas

13. Valtteri Bottas, Sauber

14. Yuki Tsunoda, VCARB

15. Zhou Guanyu, Sauber

Not classified: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Alex Albon (Williams), Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Logan Sargeant (Williams)