Max Verstappen has fended off a fast-finishing Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix and grow his championship lead.
Verstappen had led Sainz for much of the race after acing his getaway from pole, while the Spaniard lost crucial early seconds stuck behind Fernando Alonso.
Unable to recover the difference on track, the race turned into a potentially strategic grandstand finish when Verstappen made a second pit stop on lap 43, his hard tires aching from a 34-lap stint after an ambitiously early lap 8 stop during a virtual safety car.
The caution had been caused by teammate Sergio Perez, whose car stopped on track while running in 10th with an apparent hydraulics issue that left him unable to change gear.
Sainz had delayed his stop until lap 21, when he scored a cheap stop of his own during another VSC — this one for Mick Schumacher’s stopped Haas. He inherited the lead from the Dutchman with an almost 10s lead with 29 laps remaining.
The race was reset by a safety car on lap 48. Yuki Tsunoda, fresh out of the pits, locked up at Turn 2 on cold hard tires and speared into the outside barrier, ending his race on the spot.
The timing was perfect for Ferrari. Sainz dived into the pit for new set of hard tires, now six laps fresher than Verstappen’s, and prepared for a 16-lap assault of the lead once the race resumed.
Verstappen was able to grid out a hard-fought 0.9s victory to stretch his championship lead.
“The last few laps were a lot of fun,” he said. “I think I would’ve preferred attacking instead of defending, but luckily it worked out.”
Sainz collected the fastest lap of the race but was disappointed to miss another opportunity to win his first Formula 1 grand prix.