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Max Verstappen revels in exciting finish to win in Canadian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen celebrates his win in Canada (Paul Chiasson/AP)
Max Verstappen celebrates his win in Canada (Paul Chiasson/AP)

Max Verstappen was having a ball in his Red Bull as he held off a late charge from Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix and extend his championship lead.

With Formula One returning to Montreal for the first time in three years, it was the Red Bull of Verstappen which took the chequered flag to move 46 points clear at the top of the standings.

Sainz was fast in the closing stages but could not find a way past Verstappen and had to settle for second place, the pair joined on the podium by Lewis Hamilton – the seven-time world champion taking third for Mercedes.

His team-mate George Russell continued his record of top-five finishes all season as he took fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc, who recovered from starting 19th to claim a decent haul of points.

Esteban Ocon was sixth for Alpine, with Fernando Alonso dropping from his second-place start to finish ninth as a five-second penalty was applied after the race for weaving on the straights.

That promoted Valtteri Bottas to seventh and Guanyu Zhou to eighth, with local favourite Lance Stroll taking the final point on an afternoon where Verstappen was again the man to beat.

“The last few laps were a lot of fun,” he said.

“I think overall, they (Ferrari) were very quick in the race so it would have been really tough for me to close that gap to the end, even on fresher tyres. But it was really exciting at the end.

“I was giving it everything I had. Of course, Carlos was doing the same. Following is tricky around here but I could see he was pushing, charging, but of course, naturally, when you are in the DRS, it is a bit easier to charge.”

Max Verstappen, right, pulls clear from pole position
Max Verstappen, right, pulls clear from pole position (Ryan Remiorz/AP)

Verstappen cantered off the line and into the first corner well ahead of Alonso, who had impressed in qualifying to take his first front-row start in a decade.

Lewis Hamilton had started an impressive fourth and held off a challenge from the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Alonso passed by Sainz on lap three.

Virtual safety cars after the retirements of Sergio Perez and Mick Schumacher allowed a spate of pit stops, with Verstappen emerging in the lead.

With Perez out, another of Verstappen’s title rivals was cutting his way through the field with the Ferrari of Leclerc having started 19th after replacing engine parts on Saturday.

The Monegasque, however, was stuck behind Ocon to check his progress and a slow pit stop forced him back down into the pack.

Hamilton challenged Verstappen as the Dutchman left the pits, Sainz staying out to take the lead before pitting under a safety car on lap 49 and getting right onto the gearbox of Verstappen at the restart.

There was no drama as the safety car peeled away but Sainz was keeping Verstappen honest, closing to within a second and pushing for an overtake in the closing stages.

But, while Leclerc cut past the two Alpines to improve his position, Sainz had no answer up front as Verstappen took the 26th win of his career and his fifth in the last six races.

“I was pushing flat out, I wasn’t leaving an inch,” said Sainz.

“I was pushing everything, with the battery. I tried everything to pass Max. Today we didn’t have the pace.

“The positive thing is we were quicker, we were faster, we just needed that little bit more to overtake around here.

“I am particularly happy with the race pace, with the way we put pressure on Max. The timing of the pit stop was right. Honestly, we tried everything, we were close to winning today.”

That leaves the reigning champion in a great position heading to Silverstone, nearly two race wins clear of his closest challenger in the drivers’ standings.

Perez remains second despite his retirement as his comedown following victory in Monaco last month continues.

“The gearbox was at the end of its life so we have to keep on top of these things,” he said of his retirement.

“The reliability is very painful and having a zero for the championship, it’s also very painful, very costly.

“It’s still a very long championship but today hurts a lot, I want to forget about today and move on to Silverstone. Hopefully I can have a straighter weekend than I’ve had here.”