Max Verstappen revels in a thrilling finish to win at the Canadian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen was having fun in his Red Bull as he withstood a late charge from Carlos Sainz to win the Canadian Grand Prix and extend his championship lead.

With Formula One returning to Montreal for the first time in three years, it was Verstappen’s Red Bull that took the checkered flag to move 46 points clear at the top of the standings.

Sainz was fast in the closing stages but could not find a way past Verstappen and had to settle for second, the pair joined on the podium by Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion who sits third for Mercedes.

His teammate George Russell continued his record of top-five finishes throughout the season as he took fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc who recovered from 19th to claim a healthy number of points.

Esteban Ocon was sixth for Alpine, with Fernando Alonso dropping from second to finish ninth due to being handed a five-second post-race penalty for weaving down the straights.

That promoted Valtteri Bottas to seventh and Guanyu Zhou to eighth, with local favorite Lance Stroll taking the final point on an afternoon in which Verstappen was again the man to beat.

“The last few laps were a lot of fun,” he said.

“I think overall they (Ferrari) were very quick in the race, so it would have been very difficult for me to close that gap to the end, even on new tyres. But it was very exciting at the end.

“I was giving him everything I had. Of course, Carlos was doing the same thing. Following is tricky around here, but I could see he was pushing, charging, but of course naturally when you’re in the DRS, it’s a little bit easier to charge.”

Max Verstappen, right, starts from pole position (Ryan Remiorz/AP)

Verstappen cantered off the finish line and entered the first corner well ahead of Alonso, who had impressed in qualifying to take his first front-row start in a decade.

Lewis Hamilton had started an impressive fourth and held off a challenge from Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, with Alonso overtaking Sainz on lap three.

Virtual safety cars after the retirements of Sergio Pérez and Mick Schumacher allowed for a series of pit stops, with Verstappen emerging in the lead.

With Perez out, another of Verstappen’s title rivals was making its way into the field with Leclerc’s Ferrari starting 19 after replacing engine parts on Saturday.

The Monegasque, however, got stuck behind Ocon to check on his progress and a slow pit stop forced him back into the pack.

Hamilton challenged Verstappen as the Dutchman came out of the pits, Sainz staying out to take the lead before pitting under a safety car on lap 49 and climbing into Verstappen’s gearbox on the restart.

There was no drama as the safety car pulled away, but Sainz kept Verstappen honest, closing within a second and pressing for overtaking in the closing stages.

But, while Leclerc overtook the two Alpines to improve his position, Sainz had no answer from the start as Verstappen scored his 26th career victory and the fifth in the last six races.

“I was pushing flat out, not one inch left me,” Sainz said.

“I was pushing everything, with the battery. I tried everything to get past Max. Today we didn’t have the rhythm.

“The positive is that we were quicker, we were quicker, we just needed a little bit more to overtake here.

“I am particularly happy with the race pace, with the way we put pressure on Max. The timing of the pit stop was just right. Honestly, we tried everything, we were close to winning today.”

That leaves the defending champion in a great position heading into Silverstone, nearly two wins ahead of his closest rival in the drivers’ standings.

Perez remains second despite his retirement as he continues his relegation following victory in Monaco last month.

“The gearbox was at the end of its life, so we have to stay on top of these things,” he said of his retirement.

“Reliability is very painful and having a zero in the championship is also very painful, very expensive.

“It is still a very long championship but today it hurts a lot, I want to forget about today and go to Silverstone. Hopefully I can have a more complete weekend than the one I’ve had here.”

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