Image Source: Express
Max Verstappen of Red Bull claimed pole in a wet qualifying session at the Canadian Grand Prix, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso coming in second. Verstappen led the pack by 0.645 seconds after the track started wet and gradually dried.
Alonso was on pole for the 2012 German Grand Prix in a Ferrari, and it was his first front-row grid spot since then. Carlos Sainz of Ferrari came in third place, ahead of Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
Charles Leclerc, Verstappen’s title contender, qualified 15th after missing the second practice session due to a penalty for using too many power-unit components, which means he will start from the rear of the grid. George Russell, the second Mercedes driver, was ahead of Hamilton throughout qualifying before opting for dry-weather slick tires for the last run and falling to seventh.
Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher wowed the crowd by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, to give Haas their best-ever team qualifying performance. The top ten was completed by Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, and Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo.
Alex Albon, a British-born Thai who finished 12th in the Williams, made an impressive effort. Lando Norris of McLaren finished 14th after engine trouble prevented him from completing a lap during qualifying’s second half.
Verstappen put on a masterclass throughout the session, looking like he was in a different league every time he completed a lap.
Starting from pole, he now has a beautiful opportunity to cause maximum damage to Leclerc in the championship. Ferrari’s poor form continues, with an 80-point swing in Verstappen’s favor in the last five races.
“I still don’t think it’ll be an easy race,” Verstappen remarked. “However, despite today’s challenging conditions, we maintained our composure and avoided making any errors.”
While Max Verstappen appeared to be a strong contender for pole in the Red Bull, his teammate Sergio Perez struggled and crashed in the second session, finishing 13th.
Although Verstappen was impressive in the rain, undoubtedly the hero of qualifying was Alonso, who has looked quick all weekend, wet or dry, and continues to prove that age has not impaired his brilliance, as he has insisted since his comeback to F1 at the start of last year.
Alonso continued his form as rain drenched the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the start of the weekend, and he danced the Alpine around the track, power-sliding it out of the last corner for joy to out-qualify his teammate Ocon by 1.585 seconds.
“We were P1 in FP3 this morning, so it appeared we were quick in the wet,” Alonso explained. “But it wasn’t really wet at the finish; it was virtually dry.” “However, the car proved quick today in both the dry and wet conditions, making for a highly 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 track would be ready for slick tires in 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, and the game was over.
“This last week has been a great battle and every day battling through the discomfort and getting my body right,” Hamilton said after spending the week receiving treatment for his back after suffering badly from the Mercedes bouncing on the straights at last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“It’s my best qualifying this season and feels akin to my first ever qualifying in Australia in 2007 when I was so pleased,” says the driver.