Verstappen returns to the podium in Canada

Max Verstappen (r) celebrates on the podium with Sebastian Vettel (l)
Max Verstappen (r) celebrates on the podium with Sebastian Vettel (l)

Max Verstappen rounded out a solid weekend in Montreal with a third place finish at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Having come under fire for recent performances in Monaco and Azerbaijan, many eyes were focused on the Dutchman, but his pace was immediate and his place on the podium well-deserved after a consistent showing throughout the three days.

Having topped the timing sheets on Friday in free practice, Verstappen was in contention for pole position come Saturday's qualifying session. But he was beaten to the punch by Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) as he has to settle for third, ahead of Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

From the start, Verstappen almost got the jump on Bottas, but the Finn held his line around the outside of Turn 1 to take the inside line into the next corner, keeping hold of second spot. Ricciardo meanwhile overtook Raikkonen off the line and settled in behind Hamilton.

For Verstappen, it would be a lonely race for the most part. Aside from a few laps after his pit-stop, when Ricciardo, who jumped Hamilton at the change, came within two seconds, the Dutchman was in cruise control. He closed in on Bottas towards the end as the Mercedes man let off, while Ricciardo gapped Hamilton behind with a series of strong laps while the reigning world champion nursed an engine issue.

There was confusion at the end when model Winnie Harlow was told to wave the chequered flag early, prompting the official race to be ended two laps early - a gut-wrench for Ricciardo who set two fastest laps on the final two laps, meaning his team-mate was awarded the gong.

For Verstappen, it was his second podium of the season and a welcome return.

"The whole weekend we were very competitive and in the race and we were very happy with the result," he said. "Every single weekend you go in you try to win and here practice has been good. When you feel confident with the car then you can do a good job.

"The race was in one way maybe a little bit boring but on the other hand you needed full focus on doing a good job. The tyres were holding on really well at the end when I was challenging Valtteri because he was fuel saving which shows our car was working well and for sure we have a very competitive car at the moment.

"I don’t think we can challenge for victories on every track, it just depends on how long the straights are but for now I am looking forward to the upcoming races.”

Ricciardo added: “It was actually a pretty good day and I don’t think I could have done much more. I know it’s fourth but I’m actually happy. Starting sixth I didn’t know how much to expect on this track as the reality is that it’s not that easy to overtake around here anymore. I’m really happy with what I did and what the team did.

"It’s probably the first time in a while that we have gained really good team points so it’s a good weekend from that perspective and also good for Max. I’m looking at the positives: we also took two points from Lewis so we’re still in the championship, we’re still there."