Max Verstappen resisted the steady charge of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari to win the Canadian Grand Prix, his fifth win of the last six races. The Dutchman explained post-race how the latter stint was a lot closer than it seemed with Sainz.

The last few laps of green flag racing after the Safety Car returned to the pit lane could have very easily gone in the wrong direction for Red Bull and Verstappen, who would have to defend from Sainz behind in P2 on fresher tyres and with DRS down the long back straight.

The Ferrari, which this season has appeared to be an overall higher downforce and drag concept than the Red Bull, stayed firmly locked in place behind Verstappen within the DRS window with both drivers seemingly driving flat out to attempt to force the other into a mistake.

It turns out Verstappen was also not able to communicate with his team over the radio from around the Safety Car period until returning to parc ferme, however he could hear instructions coming from his race engineer Gienpiero “GP” Lambiase but Verstappen’s responses weren’t reaching the pit wall.

By that stage though there were no more scheduled pit stops to be completed and so it was simply a task of pushing as hard as possible without making a costly error – locking up and flat-spotting the tyres or running wide enough to give Sainz an opportunity to take advantage.

The unflappable Dutchman held Sainz in his slipstream perfectly to retain the lead without allowing the Spaniard to get too close to his gearbox. He had the Ferrari under control just enough to claim the crucial victory which extends his lead at the top of the championship by 46 points to Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, and 49 points to former championship leader Charles Leclerc.

Perez’s stoppage meant Ferrari actually took four points out of Red Bull’s constructors’ championship lead, but the Milton Keynes based team are still comfortably ahead in both standings’ tables.

Verstappen and Sainz Post-Race on their Canadian GP:

“You looked to have the race under control, didn’t you Max?”

Verstappen: “It was a tough race. I mean I expected to have a little bit more pace but we seemed to lack a little bit compared to Carlos. That’s of course the only one I could compare to, with the Ferrari. And, yeah, it was a bit more difficult than I expected but I think, you know, we did our strategy and I think for us it worked. Like that was the right one to do and I think, at that second stop of course, I had the fresher tyres.

“I was closing in on Carlos, but I was not sure if I actually would fully close that gap to the end of the race, but then the Safety Car came out. And I was also not very happy with that, because then I knew, of course, that he had fresh tyres behind me. And already with a little bit more pace compared to me and it’s difficult to defend, but yeah, the last 15 or 16 laps we were flat out, pushing to the limit. I knew, of course, that I couldn’t make a mistake. But it was good racing, you know. It’s always more enjoyable to be able to really push in a Formula 1 car instead of just saving your tyres.”

 “Did Carlos have a go at any point?”

Verstappen: “I mean, not a go in terms of overtaking, but it was super close all the time. He was constantly in my DRS. I think not once he dropped out of it, you know, so the pressure is always on.”

“What was the key to keeping Carlos behind during those closing laps? Was there specific areas of the track you were concentrating on?”

Verstappen: “Well, of course, you always have to make sure that you know the place where he had DRS, you have a good exit the corner before – but it was all about just really pushing to the limit and not making a mistake in general. Because I knew that even in Sector 1, if I would have made a tiny mistake, Carlos would gain a tenth on me, and that might have been enough to then get closer in the first DRS zone, and then in the second. So yeah, it was proper racing, proper pushing. And I mean, I had my moments, where I had a bit of oversteer, and then I looked in the mirror and saw Carlos having the same amount of moments so it was really on the edge, but that’s good to see.”

“Was there a radio issue? On your slowdown lap we couldn’t hear from you. Did it work during the race?”

Verstappen: “Yeah, I think it didn’t work anymore. It decided to stop… I have no clue when it stopped. But at one point GP told me that, yeah, it was not working anymore. I think the in-lap, after the line. I guess it must have been working before or maybe it already didn’t work before, which probably they don’t mind! As long as I can hear him, that’s the most important.”

“Carlos, coming to you now. So close to winning this race, just talk us through those last laps?”

Sainz: “Yeah, it was a tough, intense battle with Max. I knew I had a bit of pace delta on him from the whole race and I think it was five, six laps fresher [on] tyres, but I think to overtake around here you need to be more than those two or three tenths. I gave it my all. I was risking everything, you know, over the kerbs, close to the wall and having a few moments out there in the dirty air. I got close a couple of times but not enough to really throw a move down the inside anywhere. But I can tell you I was pushing.”

“Had you put medium tyres on at that last stop, what difference might that have made?”

Sainz: “The Safety Car stayed out for a bit longer than maybe what I thought or what the team thought. By the time it was green flag, there was only 16 or something laps left, which was the right number of laps to maybe try and put on a soft, and try to overtake Max on the warm-up phase of the hard.

“Now, it’s easy to say, at the time with still 20-something laps to go, the hard was definitely the fastest option to the flag, especially knowing that it was a bit of a fresher hard to Max. It’s a shame. I felt like also without the Safety Car, as Max said, he wouldn’t have caught me easy. I think it would have been a good battle at the end with him catching up on me, I was ready to hang it out there until the chequered flag. I was [doing] good pace, I was still doing 17.3s and I think we could have made it to the flag.”

“When you were behind him, how was the pace of the car? Was the DRS the only thing keeping you within reach?”

Sainz: “I mean, without the DRS it’s impossible, because the DRS is still affecting you quite a lot, especially at this track that you cannot do different lines. It’s all chicanes that you have nowhere to put your front wing to avoid the understeer and the overheating of the tyres. But, even like that, I was happy and confident to be in the dirty air and managed to stay even in overheating, 16 laps in DRS. I could close, I think in lap three, as soon as the DRS opened, and it was all about cooling the tyres, and regaining the battery to try and really drain it when catching him.

“As I said, I left everything out there but compared to a Red Bull today, we were quicker, I think the whole race. First time this season that I think I can say that I was fastest man on track, which gives me some confidence and hope for the next races. But two or three tenths is not enough to pass a Red Bull, you need more like five, six tenths of pace delta if you really want to have any chance of passing Max.”

Here’s Max Verstappen defending from Carlos Sainz: