F1: Verstappen wins enthralling wet-dry Canadian GP

Montreal, June 10 Red Bull's Max Verstappen returned to winning ways late on Sunday, taking victory in an absorbing Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix run in changeable weather conditions.

Rain before the race left the track wet for the start and saw most drivers opt for Intermediate tyres, with pole-sitter George Russell of Mercedes leading the first 21 laps before being overtaken by McLaren's Lando Norris.

The McLaren appeared to be managing its tyres much better than the chasing pack, and Norris pulled out a 10-second lead by lap 25, but the Briton was left to rue a badly-timed Safety Car deployment to clear Logan Sargeant's Williams, demoting the McLaren down to third, behind Verstappen and Russell, reports Xinhua.

As the track dried, Verstappen and Russell pitted together for dry tyres on lap 45, but Norris, who still had good pace on his old Intermediate rubber, stayed out for two more laps before pitting for his set of slicks.

The Briton emerged side-by-side at the pit exit with Verstappen, but the Dutchman's superior grip saw him retake the lead at Turn 2. Russell was also able to pass the McLaren for second with his warmer tyres, and looked set to hunt down Verstappen for the lead, but an error at Turn 9 saw him drop back down to third behind Norris.

A second Safety Car was deployed for an incident involving Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and the Williams of Alex Albon. Both Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton pitted for new tyres, while Verstappen, Norris and the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri stayed out.

Verstappen expertly managed the subsequent restart with 11 laps to go as Norris, Piastri, Russell and Hamilton all fought for position behind him, allowing the Dutchman to bolt into a lead he would hold to the flag.

"It was a pretty crazy race, a lot of things were happening. We had to be on top of our [strategy] calls," said Verstappen afterwards.

"As a team we did well today. We remained calm, pitted at the right time. The Safety Car worked out nicely for us but even after that, we were managing the gaps quite well.

"That was a lot of fun. Those kinds of races, you need those once in a while."

Behind Verstappen, Norris took second ahead of Russell, who rued a missed opportunity of a potential victory after having led the first 21 laps.

Hamilton finished an unhappy fourth ahead of Piastri, with Fernando Alonso taking sixth for Aston Martin ahead of teammate Lance Stroll.

Daniel Ricciardo finished eighth for RB, with the two Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon rounding out the top ten.

It was a dismal race for Ferrari, with both Sainz and Charles Leclerc retiring after having run uncompetitively all weekend, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez, fresh from signing a new two-year contract, also having a torrid time and retiring on lap 51 after having clouted the wall while running outside the points.

Verstappen's sixth Grand Prix win of 2024 sees him extend his lead in the Drivers' Championship, and the Dutchman now has 194 points. Despite not scoring, Leclerc remains second with 138 points, with Norris closing on the Monegasque with 131.

In the Constructors' standings, Red Bull now lead with 301 points. Ferrari are second on 252, with McLaren third on 212.

The tenth round of the 2024 F1 World Championship is the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 23.

Source: IANS
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