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Qualifying in Canada: Russell secured second-ever pole in slippery-action in Montreal

Written by Maria Fashchevskaya


Mercedes driver George Russell took his second-ever pole in an action-packed qualifying around Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Red Bull's Max Verstappen matched the Brits time in Q3 with the chequered flag waved, but will start from P2 tomorrow ahead of both McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.


Russell slid to pole in slippery qualifying, ahead of struggling Verstappen. The top four finished being separated by one tenth, as the McLaren's showcased strong performance. A surprise saw Ricciardo to start fifth in the race, as his teammate Tsunoda entered Q3 to finish eighth. The Aston Martin cars put up a spot-on performance to qualify sixth and ninth for Alonso and Stroll, respectively. Alex Albon completed the top ten, bumping both Ferraris out in Q2.


An important fact for qualifying is the resurfacing of the track ahead of the Grand Prix weekend. Thus, it is unknown who will ace around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in tomorrow's race. As overtaking is not easy with the more narrow track than before, as six out of seven last races in Montreal were won from pole. The rapidly changing weather need also to be accounted with. Read how the action unfolded here.


Q1

As the first part of qualifying was about to unfold, race control reported a risk of rain of 80% for qualifying, making it likely that cars would need to go out on intermediate tyres. Traffic jam ensued in the pit lane even before the lights went out to indicate the start of qualifying. With the green light on, McLaren reported to their driver Lando Norris that in Turn 7 light drops of rain were reported. Everyone went out on soft tyres for now.


Home hero Lance Stroll was one of the first drivers to knock in a time in Q1. However, he reported that his tyres were cold and finished his first flying lap with a 1:32.396s on the board. Norris and Verstappen were duelling each other in the first times. Norris soared the first lap with a 1:14.585s on the board but got beaten by home hero Stroll by 0.066s.


With 12 minutes to go, Norris beats another good time. While everyone is heating their tyres, all the drivers clock in better times, however Gasly and Magnussen in the pits. A brief yellow flag was waved, as George Russell cut a corner and drove over the grass. Meanwhile, Lance Stroll hit the wall coming out of the last corner, however, reported to not have any damage.


After the first round of flying laps, all cars dived into the pits. The current top three – Russell, Verstappen and Hamilton – had stayed in the garages even when others went out again. With six minutes to go, Piastri, Perez, Gasly, Ocon and Zhou were in the elimination zone, while Tsunoda was at risk but in the pits. Meanwhile, race control noted the impeding of Oscar Piastri by Hamilton and Tsunoda in turn 4 but decided to stop further investigation, later on.


Aston Martin looked fast in Q1, as both drivers topped the board one after another, only being usurped by Lando Norris. All drivers were out for a final try in Q1, as with two minutes to go, at risk of elimination were Perez, both Sauber cars, Hulkenberg, Piastri.


As the chequered flag was waved, Sergio Perez secured himself out of Q1, however, had not been totally safe yet. Zhou dived into pits and was immeadially out of qualifying. Alex Albon usurped everyone, as he secured his Q2 entry. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg, Ocon and Bottas did not improve. Again, Sergio Perez had been bumped in Q1, The Mexican cursing over team radio and hitting his halo while exiting the car.


Knocked out: Perez, Bottas, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Zhou.


Q2

A traffic jam in the pit lane was a usual sight in qualifying in Canada, as Max Verstappen tried to exit the garage into pit lane, stopping centimetres from Oscar Piastri's McLaren. Again, rain was reported in turn 7, making that corner slippery on the soft tyres. The Mercedes' were the first to knock in times, with 1:13.104s and 1:13.121s for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, respectively.


Meanwhile, race control noted Verstappen for not following the race director's instructions, as the Dutchman usurped both Mercedes. The reigning champion would be investigated after the session. With ten minutes to go, Oscar Piastri led the board with a 1:12.462s, followed by Leclerc and Alonso.


At the same time, in the elimination zone were Verstappen, Stroll, Albon, Gasly and Sargeant. That would mark the first time of both Williams in Q2. At risk was Carlos Sainz with a gap of 0.006s to runner-up Verstappen, who was finishing a flying lap. The Dutchman finished his lap only to go up to ninth position. Surprisingly, both RB drivers could entry Q3 if the timings stay like now.


Carlos Sainz improved and Verstappen was at risk again. Also in the elimination zone and in the pits were Gasly and Stroll. "Holy, moly, I had a big moment in turn 4", said Russell over team radio after sliding over the track in turn 4 and almost hitting the barriers.


With three minutes to go, in the elimination both Williams, Stroll, Tsunoda and Gasly, everyone out on track. Then Logan Sargeant sped to fourth place with about four tenths to the leaders, bumping Verstappen out temporarily. Tsunoda made his personal best time, while having a gap of 0.102s to leader Norris.


As the chequered flag was waved, Pierre Gasly could not improve and eliminated 15th. In a surprise turn of events, both Ferraris were bumped out of Q2, while Alex Albon finished his last flying lap, entrying Q3. Being told the news, Carlos Sainz complained about the lack of grip, while Charles Leclerc denied to comment, the result leaving even reserve driver Oliver Bearman speechless. However, Logan Sargeant finished Q2 to start 13th in the race, making it one of is best starts in Formula One so far.


Knocked out: Leclerc, Sainz, Sargeant, Magnussen, Gasly


Q3

Both RB drivers entered Q3, while Verstappen was almost bumped out of qualifying – the last session of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix ensued on a rainy and anticipating note. Only the Mercedes stayed in at the start of Q3, while all cars of the top ten went out. As the first flying laps were finished, Max Verstappen topped the board with 1:12.358s, followed by Piastri and Alonso. It could be a close call for first row between Mercedes, Verstappen, and McLaren.


At the risk of rain starting to pour at any given moment, Russell and Hamilton clock in a silver front-row, with the best time of 1:12 flat. With five minutes to go, everyone dived into the pits for a last check-up before a last flying lap. Meanwhile, the McLaren's stayed out to finish a timed lap on a clear track before the rain. Oscar Piastri finished his timed lap with a gap of 0.103s to leader Russell for now. His teammate Lando Norris usurped the Australian to narrow the gap to 0.021s.


The last two minutes saw groundbreaking action, as Ricciardo went fourth and Alonso fifth, with the chequered flag waved. Max Verstappen finished his last timed lap to match Russell's time, however, stayed second, as the Brit showed the best time first. The latter cheered over team radio for pole position, being his second time to do so, while Toto Wolff had a slight smile on his face. The second row was completed by both McLaren's Norris and Piastri.


Fifth to start in tomorrow's race would be Daniel Ricciardo, followed by Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who could not improve to match his teammate. Tsunoda, home hero Stroll and Albon complete the top ten on the grid tomorrow.


Who will win the Canadian Grand Prix? Let’s watch and see tomorrow at 7 p.m. BST (2 p.m. track time).



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