F1 – Canadian GP – Race
Hello, MiniFans! The Saturday rain left Montreal and was substituted by a clear blue sky that welcomed the drivers and the fans alike. After an insane qualifying session, the race presented itself as an interesting test of overtaking for those out of position and a completely different show of skills than the ones needed for qualifying.
The start was clean and, as he had made public, Alonso did try to go for Verstappen, but the current world champion is another veteran driver, didn’t back off and took advantage of his better start, keeping his first place. Behind them, Hamilton tried to go past Sainz, but got engaged in a battle by Magnussen, who ended up with some damage in his front wing from touching the Mercedes and eventually got a black and orange flag to change the front wing and into hards to try and go to the end.
Three laps in, Sainz made his move on Alonso, easily passing him in the straight. The older Spaniard didn’t put up a fight and glued himself to the rear end of the Ferrari, knowing he needed the help to not drop back. Hamilton, however, couldn’t keep up and started dropping as the pair was slowly chopping time off of Verstappen.
The first incident came from one of the Red Bulls. Pérez caused a virtual safety car when his engine gave up on him and he couldn’t get far away enough not to cause one. His teammate took advantage of it and boxed for hard tyres, as did Hamilton. With 60 laps to go and not much information about the performance of the hard tyres, the question of whether they’d be able to get to the end was in the air.
The hards seemed to be working perfectly, with fast lap after fast lap coming from Verstappen, who soon overtook Alonso. However, Sainz’s pace was still top notch and the distance to Verstappen took a while to start shrinking. Sainz took only a tiny bit of advantage, as the second VSC, caused by another car slowing down and stopping, this time Schumacher’s Haas, ended as he was in the pitlane, but Alonso wouldn’t gain any advantage, so he decided against going in, trying to make his mediums last as long as possible.
The Spaniard would finally pit in lap 29, rejoining behind Leclerc, who had still yet to box. The first complaints about the hard tyres came not even halfway through the race and a bit after it, Leclerc finally pitted to get rid of them. A bad stop made it so that he would get out in traffic. Verstappen, whose tyres were slightly fresher than the Ferrari’s, made his second stop barely a lap after, and Hamilton did it too.
The one-stop strategy seemed as if it wouldn’t work for anyone, as those with the oldest tyres were pitting and the ones who had done just one stop had a similar number of laps on them, but luck finally struck for Sainz with the deployment of a full safety car due to a mistake by Tsunoda. His stop was slightly slow, but he still left the pitlane in second and the cars were being grouped together by the safety car.
Verstappen was still on the lead, followed by Sainz and both Mercedes, with Hamilton in third. The Alpine cars were right behind them and Leclerc, who had started at the back, was up in seventh. With sixteen laps to go, the race was resumed and a sprint to the end ensued. Sainz was in Verstappen’s DRS zone and it seemed as if no one would stop the Spaniard in his quest to win his first race as they left the Mercedes duo behind.
The fight for the win was the main attraction of the last part of the race, with both of them exchanging purple sectors and laps. Verstappen was trying his hardest to keep the Ferrari at bay, but Sainz had adopted a different attitude in the car that what has been seen lately and wasn’t yielding to the championship leader and his first ever teammate in Formula 1. However, his might wasn’t enough and he could only come in second, behind Verstappen and in front of Hamilton.
The dream had been beautiful while it lasted, bringing back memories of the mid 2000’s, when Alonso had been one of the usual suspects in the top spots. The race, completely dry from beginning to end, burst the bubble of those hoping to see the two-time world champion back in the podium and dreaming on from yesterday’s qualifying. However, the other Spaniard was trying to avenge the one that made him want to become an F1 driver. Sainz fought tooth and nail, trying to prove he’s not defined by all the retirements that have plagued his races lately and, even if he could only touch the win with his fingertips instead of grasp it, it will at least prove to be the confidence boost he so desperately needed.