Image Source: Express
Max Verstappen earned a pole in a wet qualifying session at the Canadian Grand Prix, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso a surprising second. Verstappen remained in command throughout the session, which began wet and gradually dried until he was 0.645 seconds ahead of the field.
Alonso qualified on the front row for the first time since winning the German Grand Prix in a Ferrari in 2012. Carlos Sainz of Ferrari finished third, ahead of Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes. Charles Leclerc, Verstappen’s title contender, qualified 15th after missing the second session due to a penalty for using too many power-unit components, meaning he will start from the rear of the grid.
George Russell, the second Mercedes driver, was ahead of Hamilton throughout qualifying until he gambled on dry-weather slick tires for the final run, sliding to eighth. Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher wowed the crowd by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, to give Haas their greatest ever team qualifying performance. Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, and Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo rounded out the top ten. Alex Albon, a British-born Thai who finished 12th in the Williams, put in a strong effort. Lando Norris of McLaren finished 14th after engine trouble kept him from completing a lap in the second part of qualifying.
Max Verstappen put on a masterclass throughout the session, looking in a league of his own anytime he completed a lap. Starting from pole, he has a wonderful opportunity to cause maximum damage to Leclerc in the championship, as Ferrari’s poor form continues after an 80-point swing in Verstappen’s favor in the last five races.
“I still don’t think it’ll be a straightforward race,” Verstappen remarked. “However, in today’s challenging conditions, we remained calm and did not make any mistakes.”
While Max Verstappen appeared to be a strong contender for pole in the Red Bull throughout the race, Sergio Perez struggled and crashed in the second session, finishing 13th.
But, while Verstappen was impressive in the wet, probably the hero of qualifying was Alonso, who has looked quick all weekend, wet or dry, and continues to prove that age hasn’t impaired his brilliance, as he has insisted since his comeback to F1 at the start of last year.
Alonso continued his form as rain battered the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the start of the weekend, and he danced the Alpine around the track, evidently for fun power-sliding it out of the last curve to out-qualify his team-mate Ocon by 1.585 seconds.
“We were P1 in FP3 this morning, so it appeared we were quick in the wet,” Alonso explained. “However, it wasn’t really wet at the end; it was virtually dry.” “However, the vehicle was quick today in dry and wet conditions, so it’s been a really competitive weekend.”
Hamilton had been out-qualified by Russell for three races in a row, and it appeared that he would be out-qualified for a fourth until the younger man gambled that the circuit would be ready for slick tires on the final laps.
Russell’s gamble did not pay off; on his first attempt, he ran wide at the second curve, clipped a wheel on the painted pit-exit line, and went into a slow spin. He tried again, but his first sector was ten seconds slower than the previous one, and the game was over.
“This last week has been a tremendous battle, and every day battling through the discomfort and getting my body right,” said Hamilton. He has spent the week receiving treatment for his back after suffering heavily from the Mercedes bouncing on the straights at last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“It’s my best qualifying this season and feels like my first ever qualifying in Australia in 2007; I was so pleased,” says the driver.
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