Formula 1 | Verstappen takes pole in Canada ahead of Alonso

For the return of the F1 Canadian Grand Prix after a two-year absence due to Covid-19, Montreal reserved the rain for the Formula 1 paddock. Amid the debate over porpoising and the FIA’s guidelines for the limit, the drivers will be able to compete for pole position without official constraints on this subject.

We already know the identity of the two drivers who will make up the last row of the starting grid on Sunday, since Charles Leclerc and Yuki Tsunoda will be forced to start from the back of the grid due to changes in parts on their engine.

Max Verstappen dominated the first two free practice sessions in the dry, while Fernando Alonso shone in the rain in Free Practice 3. If Red Bull seem favorites, bad weather was determined to play a crucial role during of the qualifying session.

Indeed, the rain was still falling when the light at the end of the pit straight turned green.

Q1 – 18 mins

The drivers had no choice but to come out of the pits, despite the lack of running on the wet track of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Mercedes F1 immediately told Lewis Hamilton to set a correct lap quickly, because “the risk of yellow and red flags is high” in its terms.

George Russell quickly took first place, quickly beaten by Max Verstappen, who set the first benchmark in 1’35″830. But Carlos Sainz beat him in 1’35″812, and Russell regained control in 1’34″989! Hamilton complained of having no visibility, while Lando Norris made a mistake at the first corner.

Pierre Gasly took third time, and Sainz progressed to come within 0.176 of Russell. Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda moved up to fifth and sixth, quickly separated by Guanyu Zhou.

Ocon took second place, and Kevin Magnussen took the best time in 1:34.893, as the track seemed to be progressing. Russell set the best first sector while Valtteri Bottas took the best time in 1:34. 811.

But Russell regained control in 1’33″925, and Hamilton placed second, seven tenths behind his teammate. Verstappen then regained the fastest lap in 1’33″200… beaten by Alonso in 1’33 “136. Sainz took the best time in 1:32.781, and Leclerc moved up to seventh place.

Bottas improved to sixth, Leclerc reclaimed seventh and Zhou moved up to tenth. Tsunoda was among the eliminated and AlphaTauri confirmed that he would not return to the track, having to serve his penalty on the grid.

Ocon also improved and took second place while Gasly made a mistake and didn’t rejoin the track where he should have. However, given the weather, it is likely that the marshals will show leniency.

Leclerc took the second fastest time as Sainz explained that it would soon be possible to fit the intermediates. Verstappen set the best time in 1m32.219s and Sainz made a mistake in sector 1, causing a yellow flag to be waved, but the Spaniard was soon back on track.

Pérez looked struggling and could only improve to 12th, while the Aston Martin F1 drivers were in deep trouble too. Vettel improved but only to 16th, beaten by Gasly who remained 16th and did not qualify. Ricciardo took eighth place, Latifi improved but did not progress in the standings.

The eliminated were Gasly, Vettel, Stroll, Latifi and Tsunoda.

Q2 – 15 mins

Vettel was very disappointed with his elimination, complaining that he had found no grip. Ocon complained about Sainz’s rather cavalier return to the track, which hampered him in a fast lap, fortunately without consequence. Gasly had a problem at the front left which seems to have caused his elimination.

Charles Leclerc got out of his car after Q2, having obviously decided to stop there. In difficult conditions, Ferrari certainly does not want a good time from the Monegasque to cause the elimination of Sainz.

Alonso, Magnussen, Ocon, Schumacher and Albon came out directly on intermediate tyres, while the other drivers opted for rain tires at the start of this second part of the qualifying session.

Hamilton explained on the radio that the “crossover point”, this moment when the intermediates become better than the rains, was near. But the Briton launched an attack on the clock on rain tyres.

Hamilton set a time of 1’33.060, beaten by a tenth by Russell. The stewards confirmed having noted the incident involving Sainz and Ocon at the end of Q1. and Albon went to hit the tires in the second sector, without damage.

Just after, however, it was Pérez who hit the wall, at the level of the TecPros at turn 3. The red flag was raised to evacuate the Mexican’s Red Bull, who had to dismount. After Leclerc’s penalty, it’s a second top team driver who sees his qualification ruined, since Pérez will probably start around 14th place.

The session was restarted with 9 minutes to go in the second part of the qualification. The track was improving and it looked like the rain wasn’t going to come back. Hamilton confirmed it, with the appearance of a dry trajectory on the track.

Bottas took third place before Magnussen set the fastest time in 1’30″612. Albon was second two tenths behind the Dane, and Hamilton took the best time, quickly beaten by Russell, then Sainz then Verstappen, in 1’27″764.

Alonso in turn improved to second place, more than a second behind Verstappen. Magnussen took second place, and looked decidedly comfortable on this changing track. Albon moved up to fourth ahead of Zhou, and the Mercedes also improved.

Sainz improved in 1m26.588s, and Verstappen regained the session lead in 1m26.270s. Albon continued to improve into fifth, and Zhou took fourth. Russell and Alonso were also progressing, and the track was constantly progressing.

Verstappen gained more than a second in 1m25.201s, Schumacher improved, but others still moved up the hierarchy. third position.

Alonso took the fastest time of 1m24.848s as the checkered flag went up, while Ocon failed to improve. Bottas took provisional seventh, Magnussen improved and so did Zhou, moving up to fifth. Norris was 14th without setting a time and returned to the pits, Hamilton took fourth, Verstappen improved to 1’23.746, Ocon moved up to eighth.

The eliminated were Bottas, Albon, Pérez, injured, Norris and Leclerc, who did not drive in Q2.

Q3 – 12 minutes

The track was dry but still very wet in the first sector, and it was Hamilton who set the first time in Q3 in 1’24″360, beaten by Russell in 1’24″006. Schumacher placed third, four tenths ahead of Magnussen.

Verstappen clocked 1:22.701, and Sainz was second at 1.111. Alonso took third time 37 thousandths behind his compatriot. Ocon was down, like Zhou and Ricciardo, who made a mistake on his fast lap.

Schumacher improved to second, Sainz moved up to second two-tenths behind Verstappen, and Alonso grabbed third, just under four-tenths behind the world champion.

Russell failed to improve, nor did Zhou. The drivers returned to the pits to prepare for a final attempt. Hamilton made a mistake on his second timed attempt.

Russell tried slicks despite a very wet first corner! The other drivers returned to the track with intermediate tyres, so it was a very risky bet for the Mercedes driver.

Magnussen improved his time and took a very good third place. Verstappen improved greatly in 1’21.620, and Russell went off the track at the first corner, as expected! The Briton broke the rear wing but was able to get back on the track.

Hamilton improved to second, albeit 1.2 behind Verstappen. Alonso made a mistake at Turn 10, while Hamilton went on another fast lap unsuccessfully this time.

Verstappen hit the nail on the head in 1’21.299, and Sainz grabbed second time again. Alonso had a quick final lap and grabbed second place! What a comeback!

Verstappen therefore took pole position ahead of Alonso, who will start on the front row ahead of Sainz and Hamilton. The Haas F1 drivers are on the third row, Magnussen ahead of Schumacher.

pos. Pilot Car Q1 time Q2 time Q3 time
01 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:32.219 1:23.746 1:21.299
02 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:32.277 1:24.848 1:21.944
03 carlos sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:32.781 1:25.197 1:22.096
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:33.841 1:25.543 1:22.891
05 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:32.957 1:26.254 1:22.960
06 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:33.707 1:25.684 1:23.356
07 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:33.012 1:26.135 1:23.529
08 george russell Mercedes W13 1:33.160 1:24.950 1:23.557
09 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:33.636 1:26.375 1:23.749
10 Guanyu-Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:33.692 1:26.116 1:24.030
—————- ————— ———- ———- ———-
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:33.689 1:26.788
12 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:34.047 1:26.858
13 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:33.929 1:33.127
14 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:34.066 -:—.—
15 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:33.008 -:—.—
—————- ————— ———- ———- ———-
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:34.492
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:34.512
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:35.532
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:35.660
20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:36.575

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