Max Verstappen sauntered unopposed to his sixth victory of the 2023 Formula 1 season to equal Ayrton Senna’s career win tally at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Trailing in his wake was Fernando Alonso, back on the podium for Aston Martin, edging out Lewis Hamilton in a compelling race-long contest for second place.
Verstappen got away excellently to be under no threat heading into Turn 1, but Fernando Alonso lost out to the fast-starting Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in the battle to be the Red Bull driver’s nearest challenger on the road.
Further back, Esteban Ocon slipped by Nico Hulkenberg, while in the midst of the midfield Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez diced valiantly for 11th place. The Ferrari driver would come out on top heading into the chicane that closes out the lap, but behind them, Kevin Magnussen had to take avoiding action onto the grass when Perez cut across his path.
Pierre Gasly was the sole driver who opted for the grippiest Soft rubber at the start, though it only gained him a singular position in his attempts to recover from a disappointing qualifying.
Amid his ragged attempts to recover the place he lost at the start, Alonso was unfortunate to escape unscathed without damage when he brushed his Aston Martin up against the barrier of Turn 4.
Haas’ degradation troubles soon came to the fore in race trim again as Ocon and Oscar Piastri in the first of the McLarens easily swept by a struggling Hulkenberg.
Norris’ attempts to follow his rookie team-mate through shortly after were thwarted by a Virtual Safety Car to recover the stranded Williams of Logan Sargeant, who became the first retirement of the race on Lap 7.
Hulkenberg’s endeavours to hold on desperately to a place in the points were dented when he pitted the lap before the full course Safety Car would be deployed.
George Russell had latched onto the back of the battle involving his team-mate and Alonso but got too deep into the chicane at Turn 8 and 9, clipped the sausage kerb and slammed his Mercedes into the barrier, scattering debris across the track.
The intervention of the Safety Car prompted a flurry of activity in the pit lane. Verstappen ventured into the pits to be fitted with a brand new set of the Hard compound, as did Hamilton and Alonso, who came dangerously close to tangling when the Mercedes driver exited his box.
However, Ferrari elected to go against the grain and left both drivers out on their starting Medium tyres, promoting Leclerc to fourth and Sainz to fifth for the restart.
Russell, meanwhile, endured a long stop as Mercedes inspected the damage done to his W14. The Briton continued, albeit last of the runners still remaining in the race.
The restart on Lap 17 instantly saw Verstappen scamper away to lead by over a second by the time the Dutchman came back around to complete his first course of the circuit back at full speed.
The action was continuing to unfold in the midfield pack as Norris caught Piastri napping into the hairpin to snatch 10th place. The Australian proceeded to drop behind Alex Albon’s Williams when he became the next participant to use the extensive run-off area afforded at the final chicane.
Ocon, Bottas and Magnussen had been placed under investigation for overtaking under the Safety Car, with the end result being the Alfa Romeo and the Haas relinquishing positions to the Alpine.
Magnussen then lost out to Bottas and Norris in successive corners to drop down to 10th, before Piastri relegated the Dane a further place a few laps later.
Back at the front, Alonso’s duel with Hamilton continued and this time around it was the Spaniard who came out on top, using DRS down the back straight to reclaim second position into the chicane.
Despite Verstappen complaining that he was not entirely happy with the grip of his Hard rubber, the championship leader began to progressively extend his margin at the front. His advantage as the race approached half distance stood at 5.4s to Alonso, who was a further 3s clear of Hamilton.
Russell, in his attempts to salvage his afternoon following his earlier incident, encountered a multitude of cars sitting within DRS range of each other. However, the one-time F1 race winner gleefully accepted the gift Nyck de Vries and Magnussen presented up when the pair tangled awkwardly through Turn 2.
Their scrap continued onwards into Turn 3, resulting in both heading down towards the escape road when de Vries locked up on the dirty inside line and took the Haas with him.
Although he had started on the more durable Hard compound, Red Bull pitted Perez, prompting Ferrari to finally box both Sainz and Leclerc in successive laps to cover off any potential undercut threat. That chain reaction would see Hamilton, Alonso and finally Verstappen be called in for a second time by their respective teams.
Russell had been chasing Albon for seventh for several laps but the Brit’s recovery drive came to an end on Lap 55 when his Mercedes team called him into the pits.
His British compatriot, though, was still in the running and Norris made a super lunge on Bottas at the hairpin to claim ninth. With Ocon struggling with a loose rear wing, Norris then mounted an attack on the final lap but the Alpine racer narrowly held on.
But for the second consecutive race, Verstappen led every single lap on a Sunday to claim the 41st win of his career and subsequently equal Senna.
Alonso delivered on Aston Martin’s pre-weekend hopes with its upgraded car to finish second, beating Hamilton, who scored his 10th podium in Canada.
Ferrari executed an impressive one-stop strategy to get both cars home inside the top five, Leclerc finishing as he started: one place ahead of Sainz.
Having failed to reach Q3 for the third consecutive weekend on Saturday, Perez sustained a largely anonymous showing on race day to trail home sixth. The Mexican accumulated the bonus point for the fastest lap but was powerless to prevent his points deficit from Verstappen growing further.
Albon capped off a memorable weekend to notch Williams’ first points since the opening round of the year. The Thai representative produced a flawless final stint to successfully hold off the advances of a series of quicker cars to the chequered flag.
The first of those was Ocon, the Frenchman surviving car trouble in the dying embers to clinch ninth, followed closely by Norris. However, he ended the race empty-handed as an earlier five-second time penalty for “unsportsmanlike behaviour” dropped him behind Bottas and Lance Stroll.
F1 embarks on another two-week break ahead of a return back to Europe for the Austrian Grand Prix.