F1 – Canadian GP – Race
Hello, MiniFans! The day is finally sunny, in contrast to the gloom overcast over a few drivers who got penalties for impeding others during the qualifying session, including Hulkenberg, who lost his front row spot. This demotion pushed Alonso into second, reminiscing of last year’s grid and presenting a possible battle for the lead into the first corner while him and Verstappen keep an eye on the Mercedes cars right behind them.
Incredible traction and his reaction at the start gave Hamilton enough push to get past Alonso in the very limited straight space and consolidate the pass in the first corner. Meanwhile, Verstappen was yet again in a league of his own, starting to open up a gap as his teammate fought Sainz and lost to the Ferrari, both still out of the points. A small train with gaps verging on the one-second difference necessary to use the DRS started to form with the top four, the rear being picked up by Russell. On a bright note for Haas, Hulkenberg had managed to lose just one position, sitting in sixth not too far from Ocon, but creating a single file line behind his rear end.
In an unexpected turn of events, as car failures have been rather scarce lately, Sargeant was told to stop the car immediately due to a critical problem, forcing a brief virtual safety car as they retired the Williams from the track. Passing slower cars was proving to be a challenge in the pack, as drivers didn’t only have problems trying to get past Hulkenberg, but both Pérez and the Ferraris were struggling to keep up and even try to get past McLarens and Albon.
Pit stops came early from those stuck in the pack, trying their hand at an undercut and attempting to snatch pockets of clean air at the back, but a very sudden safety car came out due to an accident from Russell as he hit the barriers after losing control of his car on the high orange kerbs of the chicanes, which scattered debris everywhere, rendering their bets useless.
The top three pitted for fresh hards and Hamilton’s slower stop made it so that his release was too tight and almost collided with Alonso, prompting an investigation on the manoeuvre, which also happened to Norris. Meanwhile, Russell changed his tyres and Mercedes sent him back out, now at the rear end of the grid. Ferrari gave the surprise, as they didn’t stop for new rubber and remained the only ones on the track with mediums, as the others who didn’t visit their boxes had already been sporting hards.
Verstappen sent the restart in the last chicane, managing to keep his lead and earn his gap to Hamilton back quite easily, who couldn’t do the same with Alonso, as the Spaniard was in DRS range. Further back, the main pack was full of fights, with cars getting side by side at the end of DRS zones and defensive strategies sometimes ending in the asphalt runoff areas. After a few attempts, Alonso was finally close enough to attempt and manage an overtake on Hamilton, quickly kicking him out of his DRS zone as the notice of no penalty for unsafe releases by Norris and Hamilton came out.
A small touch between De Vries and Magnussen, which helped Russell to finally get past both of them, added to a very late braking by the AlphaTauri that forced the Haas to take his same line if he wanted to avoid a proper crash, prompted a yellow flag as they got stuck in the runoff area. They managed to get out quickly enough, avoiding a new safety car. Ferrari’s stops finally came to happen, with very similar times and rejoining the track in the same order. Hamilton did the same barely a lap later, forcing Aston Martin’s hand to make a decision, which was to pit as well, but for fresh hards instead of mediums, as he had no new sets of the yellow tyres. Verstappen did the same and was told to up his game a bit, unlike in other races, as the battle behind them made it so that everyone else was pulling very fast laps in quick succession.
Alonso was very clear on the radio about his intentions, stating that he wanted to win the race and asking to be told when he could stop the “lift and coast” mode he had entered. Both Mercedes were suffering completely different fates: Hamilton was slowly chipping away at the gap to Alonso, while Russell was forced to retire due to brake wear. With ten laps to go, Hamilton was told that Alonso was nursing a rear brake issue, motivating his driver to push harder. Despite this, the Spaniard isn’t the kind of driver to back down from a challenge and opened the gap back up, settling the podium order and leaving the overtakes and fights to the last positions in the points.
The race had been expected to be different from the rest of the weekend, as the rain finally failed to fall on Sunday and the greener track, after Saturday’s downpour, isn’t what they’re used to. But, as it tends to be the norm, the drivers soon settled into the given order. However, a safety car rattled things a bit, forcing strategies to be pushed a bit earlier than expected. Despite this, the lack of high degradation meant that drivers didn’t have to save their tyres, being allowed to push harder and faster than usual. The end result didn’t deviate from the norm, though, with Verstappen coming in first yet again and Alonso proving his hunger for a new win by standing on the podium once more, showing he has lost nothing over the years in a few scuffs with Hamilton that could have very well been taken right out of 2007.