Verstappen “had a lot of fun” in mixed conditions on his way to F1 Canadian GP win

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Max Verstappen secured victory at the 2024 Canadian GP, his third consecutive win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the 60th of his career, and the reigning three-time world champion revealed he had “a lot of fun” driving in the ever-changing weather conditions in Montreal, in a race that started out in full wet conditions and ended up on slicks, with lots of incidents and safety cars in between.

The Dutchman started in second after a historic qualifying saw him and George Russell tie for the fastest lap in Q3, but Russell earned pole as he set his lap first. The heavens opened on Sunday in Montreal, and whilst Verstappen didn’t look particularly quick in the opening stages, he soon picked up the pace and started to challenge George Russell as the first round of stops fast approached, but the pair lost out to Lando Norris’s flying McLaren who shoot into the lead.

But a safety car for Logan Sargeant’s stricken Williams on the exit of turn four meant the Red Bull driver was able to take advantage of the cheaper pit stop and rejoin ahead of the McLaren and the Mercedes and take the lead, which he would comfortably keep until the end of the race as the driver behind fought it out for second.

When asked after the race if the lucky moment with the safety car was payback from the Miami GP – when Norris benefitted from it – the Dutchman said the scores are now equal between him and the Briton, but emphasized that’s the nature of racing:

“When the safety car came, well, it was good that we boxed because that inter was almost a slick. So if you then stay out and it starts raining, you have no grip.

“I think I already mentioned it on the radio as well. I said, ‘guys, if rain is coming, we have to box.’

And yeah, luckily, we did that, because as soon as we restarted, it started to rain. And you could see immediately the track was again quite wet. And then, of course, you definitely want new tyres.

“Of course, it sometimes works for you and sometimes it works against you.

“So this time, yeah, it was working for us. So I guess in that sense, it’s 1-1 now this year. But yeah, that’s racing, you know, it’s a part of it as well.”

Speaking of his race, the three-time world champion admitted he had “a lot of fun” on his way to a 60th career victory driving in ever-changing track and weather conditions, which moved from rain to dry and then rain again in a matter of minutes, before settling in a clear sky and a dry circuit for the last few laps:

“For sure, it’s very rewarding [to win such a difficult race]. I mean, it’s never an easy race. It’s easy to make mistakes, especially on the inters when they were almost becoming slicks, you know, it was very easy to go off, because the track was drying in most places, but in some corners it was still a bit too wet to go to slick tyres.

“And that made it just very, very difficult. But it’s a lot of fun to drive these kind of races now and then. You don’t want it all the time, because that’s too stressful, but I had a lot of fun out there today.

“I think, yeah, of course, you are very focused, but you try to remain as calm as you can be, and also the communication to the pit wall and them to you to ask, you know, what are the conditions. And I definitely think as a team, you know, we did make the right calls today.

“And that, of course, is also very important.”

With the chasing pack closing the gap to Red Bull every single race, Verstappen is adamant that to keep winning and sustain their current form, the team cannot afford mistakes and little car issues like there have been recently, as “every detail matters”:

“It’s definitely more challenging and I think also with, of course, how the race was today, it was very exciting in general and it definitely keeps us on our toes. We cannot afford to make mistakes or tiny mistakes anymore. So, yeah, every little detail matters now.”

Verstappen has now reached 194 points in the drivers’ championship, extending his leading to 56 points over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and extending Red Bull’s advantage in the constructors’ up to 49 points despite Sergio Perez’s “horrible weekend”, in the words of Christian Horner.