Max Verstappen ran for victory in the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his lead in the championship to 46 points.
With Formula 1 returning to Montreal for the first time in three years, it was Verstappen’s Red Bull who took the checkered flag to move 46 points away at the top of the standings.
Carlos Sainz was fast in the final stages after a period behind the safety car, but could not find a way to get past Verstappen and had to come to terms with second place, the pair were joined on the podium by Lewis Hamilton – the man who Verstappen won in his maiden world. title in 2021.
Here we look at the factors that may prevent Verstappen from charging for his second consecutive title.
Is Verstappen the best driver in the world right now?
With six wins out of nine and an impressive lead in the championship battle, Verstappen is the driver in grid form.
Fresh from the dominance of the streets of Baku a week ago, the Dutchman made an equally impressive appearance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Verstappen put his Red Bull on the pole in the wet and after beating Fernando Alonso in the opening corner, his victory – despite a belated challenge from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz – never seemed in jeopardy.
He is 46 points behind his teammate, Sergio Perez, as we approach the middle of the season. Red Bull, meanwhile, have won their last six games.
What happened to Leclerc?
Leclerc won two of the first three rounds and is ahead of Ferstappen with 46 points. But Monegasque has since endured a terrible course – and to a large extent without his own fault.
Leclerc’s retirements in Spain (May 22) and Azerbaijan (June 12) with engine failures were accompanied by a fake strategy pass from Ferrari’s team in Monaco (May 29) that deprived him of a possible victory. Sunday’s Canada GP was a case of injury reduction after it started from behind after engine penalties.
He led well to finish fifth, but now follows Verstappen with 49 points – equivalent to two wins.
Can Leclerc bring himself back to the title fight?
Despite Leclerc’s penalty on the grid, Ferrari will gain some confidence from its speed in Montreal.
Sainz pushed Verstappen to the checkered flag after a delayed safety car, while Leclerc charging through the package shows that Ferrari still has a competing engine.
Silverstone’s fast track for next weekend’s British Grand Prix will have to play with its strengths. But it does not make sense to have a fast car if it is disabled due to reliability.
Could mechanical problems pose a threat to Red Bull as well?
Perez stopped with a gearbox failure in Montreal to give Verstappen’s opponents hope that Red Bull’s gremlin technicians could raise their heads again.
But it should also be noted that Verstappen is in a series of six consecutive finishes, winning five of them and finishing third in the other.
Are they Mercedes challengers?
Lewis Hamilton’s campaign was derailed by Mercedes seals and the seven-time world champion looked ready for another bleak weekend in Canada when he finished just 13th in training.
But Hamilton finished fourth in the rain before improving his position in the race to claim his first podium of the opening round in Bahrain.
The British driver said that his result gave him the belief that the Silver Arrows could cover the difference between Red Bull and Ferrari.
Haven’t we been here before?
Yes. Hamilton drove from last to fifth at the Spanish Grand Prix in May and predicted he could return to the winners’ circle this season only to return to the ground with one blow, finishing eighth in Monaco and then battling intense pain. in the back caused by the unruly Mercedes engine. in Azerbaijan.
And while Hamilton was justifiably pleased to be back on the podium in Canada, he crossed the line seven seconds ahead of Verstappen during a race that started again with just 16 laps to run after a period of safety driving. He is 98 points behind Verstappen in the league.
Could a rule rewrite the Verstappen scupper class?
Formula 1 regulator The FIA has committed to reducing or eliminating the seal to protect driver safety and issued a new technical directive on the eve of the Canadian GP. Hamilton’s Mercedes team wants a change in regulations – but Red Bull and Ferrari are strongly opposed. The F1 bounce effect is unlikely to disappear and the series will continue for the rest of the year. With 13 rounds left, the FIA’s next move could have an impact on this season’s championship destination.