Severe wet weather was no problem for Max Verstappen who took his fifth pole of the season in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix this morning. The defending world champion has surprise company on the front row, with Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg holding second after a late Red Flag in Q3 for an Oscar Piastri crash.
Fernando Alonso and Verstappen had exchanged times until Piastri backed his McLaren into the wall, Hulkenberg able to get his lap in moments before the red flag while Alonso had no opportunity to respond. Running was able to resume following the intervention, however the rain had intensified and resulted in much slower laps.
The Spaniard will start the Grand Prix from third, with Lewis Hamilton joining on the second row. George Russell and Esteban Ocon will start on the third row, while Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz qualifying directly behind. Sainz, however, found himself in trouble after impeding Pierre Gasly in Q1, receiving a three place grid penalty as a result, now starting 11th.
Despite crashing out, Piastri will start eighth, with Alex Albon promoted to ninth despite not setting a time in Q3 due to a track limits violation.
The conditions ultimately created a mixed grid for the race, with Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Gasly and Lance Stroll all failing to make the final session.
Guanyu Zhou was the cause of an early red flag in Q1, coming to a halt at Turn 7 and requiring a restart to get moving again. He was able to briefly return but couldn’t set a competitive time and will start on the back row with Logan Sargeant.
Nyck De Vries, Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were the other drivers eliminated in Q1.
A dry line had rapidly started to appear in Q2, and it became a battle of strategy as teams gambled with slicks or intermediates. Williams were ultimately the victor of this as Albon topped the session.
It was a gamble that didn’t pay off for Leclerc and Perez, the Ferrari and Red Bull forced to start 10th and 12th respectively for tomorrow’s race after deciding a flying lap on slicks was too much a risk. Sainz’s penalty drops him in between the pair.
Stroll also ran into trouble in Q2, narrowly avoiding the wall following a spectacular high speed spin at Turn 5. He recovered but could only manage the 13th best time, pipping Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas who were the other drivers eliminated.
Wet weather is on the forecast again tomorrow, with the Canadian Grand Prix beginning at 6.00 am.
Header Image: Mark Sutton/ Motorsport Images