Max Verstappen extended his lead at the top of the drivers’ strandings to 46 points after the Canadian Grand Prix. But he had to work hard for it by his former Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz, Verstappen enjoyed the “real racing” with the now-Ferrari driver.
Verstappen was looking for a relatively stress-free afternoon in Montreal, comfortably leading from Sainz in the opening stage, after claiming pole on Saturday.
But after Verstappen fell behind the Spaniard after a second stop, Yuki Tsunoda then crashed into the barrier of Turn 2, the Safety Car that allowed Sainz to pit and get behind Verstappen – with the pair then treating the fans to a fantastic fight of 16 laps around the flag as green flag racing resumed with Verstappen holding the win by just 0.993 seconds.
READ MORE: Verstappen survives late Safety Car to beat Sainz to Canadian GP
“It was a tough race,” said Verstappen. “I expected a little more speed, but we seemed to fall a bit short compared to Carlos… It was a bit more difficult than I expected.
“We followed our strategy, and I think it worked for us, that was the right thing to do. At that second stop, of course, I had the fresher tires and I was approaching Carlos, but I wasn’t sure I could really fill that gap. would close until the end of the race.
“But then the Safety Car came out and I wasn’t very happy about that either, because then of course I knew he had fresh tires behind me, and all in all I think a little bit more pace compared to me … But the last 15, After 16 laps we pushed ourselves to the limit and of course I knew I shouldn’t make a mistake but it was good racing it’s always more fun to be able to actually drive a Formula 1 car instead of just slamming your tires save.”
When asked what the key was to keep Sainz at bay, Verstappen replied: “Well, of course you always had to make sure that in the places where he had DRS you got out of the corner early. But it was just about really getting to the point. to go to the extreme, generally not to make a mistake because even in Sector 1 I knew that if I made a small mistake Carlos would get a tenth on me and that could be enough to then be closer in the first DRS zone and then in the second.
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“It was good racing, good pushing. I had my moments where I was a little upset, then I looked in the mirror and saw Carlos have as many moments! So it was really on the edge, but that’s good to see.”
With Verstappen’s advantage in the driver standings now close to two race wins over team-mate Sergio Perez – who failed to finish in Montreal after a technical problem on lap 8 – the Dutchman could be forgiven for believing the title of 2022 was already on its way.
2022 Canadian Grand Prix: Verstappen stops Sainz and takes victory in Montreal
But the Red Bull driver refused to follow that line of thought, despite having won five of the last six races.
“It’s still a very long way [to go]said Verstappen, whose Red Bull team has also won the last six races, a feat they’ve only achieved once before. “I know that the gap is of course quite big, but I also know that it can turn very quickly. I mean, race three I was 46 behind, so we just have to keep calm, we have to focus and we have to improve because we weren’t the fastest today.
HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action of a thrilling race in Montreal as Verstappen holds off Sainz to take the win
“It fluctuates a bit,” he added. “Last weekend [in Baku] it looked good in the race, now it didn’t look so good, but we still managed to win and I think that’s a quality too, and we just have to work together with the whole team and try to make small improvements find in the car.”