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Formula 1

Russell and Norris lead Canadian GP but Verstappen wins it

by Samarth Kanal
4 min read

Max Verstappen won the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix amid changeable conditions as Lando Norris and polesitter George Russell completed the podium – while Ferrari and Williams suffered a double retirement.

Rain led every team bar Haas to start the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on intermediate tyres. Russell led Verstappen away and the Red Bull driver tailed the Mercedes while a dry line formed on the track.

Russell was given a brief respite on lap 17 of 70 when Verstappen went off at Turn 1, but that only gave Norris a chance to close in on the lead battle.

DRS was activated just after Verstappen’s error, and on lap 20 Norris passed him for second just before the final chicane; the McLaren driver made a similar move on Russell for the lead one lap later.

Russell however went off the track at the final corner and rejoined right in front of Verstappen, who took the opportunity to pass him for second. 

Verstappen rides safety car fortune

The track had dried considerably by lap 25 and the field’s intermediate tyres needed changing. With more rain on the horizon, teams had a decision to make – and it was Williams’s Logan Sargeant who catalysed that decision when he slid and crashed out.

Verstappen immediately pitted – followed by a train of rivals including Russell, who almost swiped the place in the pitlane – but Norris had missed the chance to change his tyres as he had already passed the pit entry. He picked up the safety car and his 30-second lead quickly began to erode. After stopping on the next lap, Norris emerged in third.

“What goes around comes around,” said Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase as he pointed to the McLaren driver’s winning fortune from safety car timing in Miami.

Norris fights back during wet-dry crossover

When Pierre Gasly pitted for hard slick tyres on lap 41, the rest of the field watched intently. Lewis Hamilton, who was tailing the McLarens in fifth, chose to pit for slicks on lap 44. That swap seemed to come one lap too early as Oscar Piastri pitted after Hamilton and emerged way in front.

Crucially, Verstappen and Russell pitted from the lead places on lap 46 – and Norris stayed out from third. Norris built up an advantage on intermediates and pitted two laps later, but he lost time entering and exiting the pits, which were wet, and on cool slicks he lost even more time as Verstappen blazed past.

Norris did however capitalise on a Russell error a few laps later to move into second, five seconds behind Verstappen.

Soon after that, Sergio Perez crashed out at Turn 6 and retired into the pits; Carlos Sainz slid and collected points-contender Alex Albon, bringing out the second safety car – and causing the second of two retirements apiece for Ferrari and Williams.

McLaren-Mercedes battle shapes podium

Mercedes chose to pit both of its drivers for slick tyres during the second safety car with Russell now on mediums and Hamilton now on hards, but Verstappen and the McLarens stayed out.

The championship leader nailed the lap 59 restart and went on to win by 3.8 seconds.

Norris meanwhile found himself leading a DRS train with Piastri, Russell, and then Hamilton behind. Russell homed in on Piastri late on but couldn’t pass the Australian for third, banging wheels with him and losing a place to team-mate Hamilton in the final chicane.

As the fastest driver on track, Hamilton then swept past Piastri on lap 66. The battle wasn’t over: a couple of laps later Russell squeezed down the inside of the seven-time champion at the final chicane. 

Hamilton came back at Russell on the final lap but lost out on the final podium place by 0.6s, while Norris hung on to second over Russell by just under half a second. 

Despite taking third, polesitter Russell was apologetic on team radio on his cooldown lap.

Woes for Ferrari

Leclerc, who reported engine issues at the start, came in during the first safety car for a successful engine fix – but a swap to hard tyres. The rest of the field were on intermediates when the race restarted for lap 30. 

Rain began to fall again and the Monaco Grand Prix winner was lapping at least 18 seconds slower than leader Verstappen. Leclerc was told to hang on for two laps, but cut his losses and pitted for intermediates soon after. Leclerc found himself being lapped by Verstappen just after the halfway point, which cost him even more time.

Leclerc was told to retire the car on lap 43. This turned into a double retirement for Ferrari when Sainz crashed later on to bring out the second safety car.

As for Williams, Albon made a sensational double-overtake on Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon on lap 31, but was collected by Sainz in that late-race incident, making it a double-retirement for the team instead of a points finish. 

Aston Martin collected points with Fernando Alonso sixth and home driver Lance Stroll seventh ahead of RB’s Ricciardo.

Alpine pulled off a coup as Gasly’s pitstop paid off for ninth – and Esteban Ocon avoided incident to finish 10th despite a five-place grid penalty forcing him to start 18th, though a late order to switch positions so Gasly could attack Ricciardo caused more intra-team angst.

Haas’s shortlived charge

Haas made a rapid foray into the top 10 at the start having opted to start Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg on wet tyres from 14th and 17th, respectively. But when the track began to dry, they both slowed and fell out of the top 10 when swapping to intermediates.

Hulkenberg ended up finishing 11th and Magnussen 12th, ahead of Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas – who, along with team-mate Zhou Guanyu, started from the pitlane.

Zhou however suffered another slow pitstop late in the race and finished 15th, behind RB driver Tsunoda. Tsunoda spun late in the race and nearly collected Magnussen.

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