Now it’s 1 to 1!

In the rain in Montreal, Max Verstappen was once again unable to enjoy a comfortable Sunday afternoon. He once again had to fight for victory against tough opposition from Mercedes and McLaren. At the finish, his lead over Lando Norris was only 3.879 seconds. After the race, Norris complained that he had missed out on victory. But this time the racing gods were on Verstappen’s side.

The Canadian GP had started rather mediocrely for Verstappen. After missing pole position, he tried his best to put pressure on leader George Russell on the slowly drying track. But he made the mistake himself – on lap 17. He ran out of grip in the first corner: “Especially on the intermediates, which were almost like slicks, it was easy to fly off.”

A short excursion through the grass was the result. The mistake brought Norris directly into the rear of his car, and on lap 20 the McLaren finally went down. Unlike Verstappen, Norris also managed to overtake Russell and take the lead. Although a mistake by the Mercedes driver brought Verstappen back to second place shortly afterwards, Norris was a force to be reckoned with in drying conditions on intermediates. “At that point, McLaren seemed to be the favorites to simply drive away,” believes the Red Bull team boss. Christian Horner.

In Canada, Max Verstappen has the last laugh in the strategy fight

Within a few laps, Verstappen was more than five seconds behind. Before a safety car came into action. And this time, Verstappen was the one who benefited. Norris was just at the pit entrance and could no longer turn. Verstappen, and everyone behind him, immediately picked up new intermediates. When McLaren stopped a lap later, they had too much time and thus lost the lead. “Now it’s one to one!” grins Verstappen, who in Miami lost the lead and victory to Norris because of a safety car.

Max Verstappen leads in the Red Bull behind the safety car after Logan Sargeant's accident in the Williams
The safety car fell in Max Verstappen’s favour in Canada, Photo: LAT Images

Verstappen did not allow Formula 1 to make a second mistake in Canada. He survived the restart, another small shower, the track finally drying out, and another safety car, always with a small safety buffer. Team boss Christian Horner points to small adjustments during the first stop, probably the front wing and tire pressure: “That put us in a better position.”

When the weather dried out for the second time and the final change to slicks was imminent, Red Bull had to make another strategic mistake of its own. Verstappen and the pit team worked together to find the right time to change from intermediates to medium slicks on lap 45. Norris’ attempt to stay out for two laps longer and build up pressure in this way did not work.

Red Bull still has problems with kerbs and bumps

“If you look at the whole weekend, we weren’t the strongest team in terms of pace, but in the end we did the best job,” Verstappen praised. On Saturday he had criticized Red Bull’s problem rate in 2024 to be a little too high. After the race he stated: “We’re still doing a lot of things right, but for some reason we’re not in the same flow as last year.”

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) leads ahead of Lando Norris (McLaren)
Once he was back in front, Verstappen stayed in front, Photo: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

This time, Verstappen was overcome by problems in the race. This included the persistent handling deficit on bumps, which he complained about again, especially in drying conditions: “Even in the race we had a lot of problems with the kerbs and the bumps.”

Unlike in Monaco, the consequences here were not so great. Especially not in the rain, where the kerbs are rarely or never used. As a result, Verstappen’s lead in the World Championship has grown again to 56, more than two victories.

And luckily Verstappen also escaped a marmot disaster. One of the animals crossed directly in front of him in the last chicane on one lap: “It was almost dead. On the way to the last chicane I first thought it was debris. As I got closer I thought: ‘My God, that’s an animal!’ Then I pulled to the right.” It cost some time, but had no consequences for everyone involved, including the marmot.

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