Formula 1 Racing

Norris and Russell’s missed chances for second win hand Verstappen his 60th · RaceFans

Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

The Canadian Grand Prix could have been the story of how George Russell or Lando Norris mastered tricky conditions to claim the second victories of their careers.

But on a day when three teams were in the hunt for victory, Max Verstappen produced the cleanest and quickest drive to take the 60th win of his career.

Arriving at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on race day having taken pole position on a tie-breaker, Russell could be forgiven for feeling fortuitous. He’d managed to upset Verstappen, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari by putting his Mercedes on pole for only the third time in his career. Now, his goal was to end his team’s second-longest wait between wins in its history.

But while Mercedes was in drought, Montreal had been anything but over the weekend. Frequent rain over the two prior days of running returned on race day afternoon, leaving the track completely wet as drivers headed out on their reconnaissance laps in the hour before the start. Although it stopped, there was still a copious amount of standing water all around the circuit. Poor grip and poor visibility were now guaranteed for the opening phase of the race.

The race began on a very wet track

Having learned on Friday how quickly the newly resurfaced Montreal track can dry out, Russell, Verstappen, Norris, Oscar Piastri, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and 10 other drivers all opted for intermediates for the start of the race. Only the Haas pair – Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg – decided to test their luck on full wets.

Despite the soaked track, race director Niels Wittich entrusted the world’s best drivers to line up on the grid for a standing start. As the fourth start light illuminated, Ricciardo’s RB began creeping oh-so-slightly in his grid box, which would earn him a penalty later in the race, but soon all five had come on and gone out, sending 18 cars rushing into turn one.

Although the circumstances were primed for chaos to ensue, the drivers proved Wittich’s faith on them were not misplaced as they navigated the Virage Senna sequence with no major problems. Russell emerged out of the right hander first, two car lengths ahead of Verstappen with Norris, Piastri, Alonso and a Hamilton up from seventh to sixth.

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From the first lap, it was evident that the ‘full’ wet tyres were best suited to the conditions, with Magnussen gaining six places and Hulkenberg five through the first 14…

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