Reigning champion Max Verstappen has now won six of the nine Grands Prix of the 2022 Formula 1 season and is 49 points – worth almost two wins – ahead of main rival Charles Leclerc.
It is now also six wins in a row for Red Bull, with Sergio Perez’s Monaco win punctuated by a Verstappen streak that started two months ago at Imola.
Is there a chance that Red Bull and Verstappen will now be stopped in this title race?
These are the thoughts of our writers:
Verstappen drives like a champion every time
Ferrari and Charles Leclerc knew very early on that this weekend would be all about damage control. They needed something dramatic not to fall further back in the championship and they didn’t get it.
So now Max Verstappen is almost two full wins clear. But forget Ferrari’s problems – this weekend and the boost it gives Verstappen, and his championship challenge should be all about him.
In appalling qualifying conditions, Verstappen kept his composure and made sure he was a cut above the rest. Yes, the Red Bull looked great. But Perez put it in the wall. Verstappen put it on pole.
Then the race again revolves around that word: calm. There were a few moments when this Grand Prix could have gone away from him: the early pit stop under the virtual safety car and the late safety car that had Carlos Sainz attack so fiercely for several laps.
Verstappen was imperturbable. With good straight line speed, he knew he would win as long as he didn’t make a mistake. Simple in principle, difficult to implement. Yet he did it without a single mistake.
A championship weekend.
Red Bull is battle hardened and it shows
What 2022 has shown us so far is that Red Bull is a seasoned F1 frontrunner, while Ferrari is still a team re-establishing itself at the forefront.
Past unreliability issues eliminated Leclerc from the win fight in Montreal before the weekend even started, but even then the slow pit stop that dropped him behind a line of traffic was a mistake that made his recovery much more difficult.
Sainz has done his best but he still can’t deliver the one-lap pace that Leclerc can and that makes it difficult for him to win races as Ferrari’s route to victory is generally to regain track position Saturday to secure and hold instead of getting rid of it. behind, as he fought bravely to do in the latter part of the race.
Ferrari is a strong team, but it is still a team rebuilding itself into an F1 powerhouse, so maybe this is to be expected.
But while the car is fast, it’s hard to see that he has Red Bull’s benchmark for the rest of the season, no matter how good Leclerc is.
It’s way too early to rate this
It all looks good for Verstappen. However, you can never count your points to the end.
Red Bull has the race pace, but both they and Ferrari are vulnerable in terms of reliability and a few DNFs could very quickly make a big hole in that points advantage.
Leclerc and Sainz raced in Baku and Perez showed this weekend how good the margins are with reliability.
But the reality is you just have to keep your head down and attack every weekend as it unfolds right in front of you.
For both Verstappen and Leclerc, the most important thing is that if you can’t win, you have to make the most of every race, as Leclerc did this weekend after starting 19th.
At the end of the season you can then add up the points and the one with the most points will have a smile on their face.
But it takes a long time before you can really guess who that might be.
This wasn’t too bad a ‘bad day’ for Ferrari
Ferrari leaves Montreal with Leclerc 15 points further away from Verstappen, but has pruned back four points from Red Bull in the constructors’ battle.
Not great, but in the context of both knowing from the start that Leclerc would start at the very back and come straight out of Baku’s wretched, utter disaster, perhaps a very mildly encouraging result?
Definitely the best for Leclerc was probably third if he could have cleared some DRS queues faster and had a smoother pit stop. Even if that had happened, he might not have conquered the Mercedes given their improved race pace. The fifth could actually have been the maximum achievable from the 19th.
Best of all was Sainz’s form. While he didn’t get the win Ferrari really needed, he fought Red Bull in the closing laps in a way that was good for the morale of the team, but especially for him. Afterwards Sainz said he had much more confidence in the car than he had all year. That’s exactly what he needed and could transform.
Ferrari has not much to lose now, and certainly no reason to lose hope after a weekend of so many encouraging elements.