Max Verstappen dominated qualifying in Montreal to claim pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix, but he’ll have an unfamiliar companion on the front row, with Fernando Alonso alongside him.
In a wet session that saw Sergio Perez and George Russell hit the barriers, Verstappen topped the timesheet for each of the three segments, as he looks to capitalise on his title rivals’ woes.
Charles Leclerc is set to start on the back row of the grid after taking engine penalties, and Perez’s qualifying crash put him out in Q2, starting 13th on the grid.
The rain saw a shake-up of the competitive order, as Alonso continued the strong performance that saw him top the FP3 times.
“It feels great, an unbelievable weekend for us,” said Alonso. “Thanks to the wet conditions, the car was mega, I was so comfortable with driving this car. I think we’ll attack Max in the first corner.”
Both Haas drivers were quick in the conditions too and will start on the third row of the grid, ahead of Russell who was the only driver to brave slick tyres in the session — and quickly regretted the choice.
Lando Norris’s pitcrew will have a busy evening as they work on a power unit issue that eliminated the McLaren driver in Q2, while Sebastian Vettel was left puzzled at how his Aston Martin, which set the third fastest time in FP3, was only good enough for 17th in qualifying.
Yuki Tsunoda will start behind Leclerc at the back. The AlphaTauri driver also has engine penalties and was slower than the Ferrari driver in Q1.
The first qualifying period began with drivers on full wet tyres after a downpour in Montreal. The surface water was quickly cleared from the racing line and, as times fell, the likes of Russell, Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen scrolled through the lead position, with Alonso close to the top.
With 1min left, Carlos Sainz slid into the run-off area in Turn 3, bringing out a yellow flag. He returned to the track immediately ahead of a disgruntled Ocon and was investigated for an unsafe return to the circuit — with no action taken.
The Spaniard faced a second investigation too, for driving too slowly in Turn 14, along with Leclerc and Albon, while Stroll piqued the stewards’ interest for failing to slow under yellow flags, but wasn’t penalised.
Max Verstappen was at the top of the timesheet with a 1min 32.219sec lap as Q1 came to a close, followed by Alonso, six-hundredths behind. Sainz and Magnussen were the only two others with a lap time below 1min 33sec.
A long way down the order was Vettel in 17th with a 1min 34.512sec lap, having languished low down the order for most of Q1. He complained over the radio that the car felt “so different”, with “no grip”, in contrast with his stellar showing in the morning.
Eliminated alongside Vettel was his team-mate Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Nicholas Latifi and Yuki Tsunoda, who only ran briefly, given his impending penalty.
A drying circuit saw Alonso, Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Sainz, Schumacher, Perez and Albon start Q2 on intermediates, and the green-walled rubber was the tyre of choice.
Five minutes in, Alonso turned in a lap 2sec quicker than anybody else on his intermediates but, as he crossed the line to complete his lap, Albon illustrated the risk of switching from full wets as he locked his wheels and ran into the barrier at Turn 1. With light damage, he managed to reverse out and return to the pits,
But moments later, Perez locked up on the way into Turn 4, lodging himself into the barrier. Unable to reverse out, Perez’s session was over and his car was recovered under a red flag.
As Norris returned to the pits, he complained that something wasn’t right with the power unit; the response coming that McLaren knew what the issue was.
There were seven minutes remaining as the session was restarted with all cars now on intermediate tyres on a rapidly drying track.
Norris was late out after reporting his engine issue, but there had been no quick fix, and he headed straight back into the pits without setting a time in Q2.
Meanwhile, Verstappen was flying, improving by almost a second a lap as he punched in three fast laps. The action was frenetic in the closing moments, as the track continued to improve: Mick Schumacher was third at one stage, just before Alonso went top, but it was Verstappen who again ended with the fastest time, the 1min 23.746sec lap more than a second faster than the next-best time of Alonso.
Russell was close behind the Alpine and then came Sainz, who had a troubled session, running off the track close to the end and having his lap time deleted.
Zhou Guanyu made it into Q3 for the first time, but team-mate Bottas was eliminated along with Albon and Perez, plus Norris and Leclerc who didn’t set a time.
Verstappen began Q3 as he had finished the previous session, topping the first runs with a 1min 22.701sec lap, 0.231sec ahead of Sainz.
As the clock ticked down towards the chequered flag, Russell rolled the dice by fitting slicks on a track with a growing amount of dry racing line — but still several areas of wet asphalt. It came as little surprise when the camera cut to the Mercedes spinning off and his rear wing brushing the barrier,
Russell couldn’t improve but Verstappen wasn’t finished, setting a 1min 21.299sec lap at the top of the timesheet, with Sainz and Alonso still to cross the line.
Sliding through the final corner, the Ferrari could only manage second, 0.8 sec behind, but it was short-lived as Alonso came through to claim a front row slot alongside the Dutchman.
2022 Canadian Grand Prix qualifying results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1min 21.299sec|
|2||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||1min 21.944sec|
|3||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||1min 22.096sec|
|4||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1min 22.891sec|
|5||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1min 22.960sec|
|6||Mick Schumacher||Haas||1min 23.356sec|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||1min 23.529sec|
|8||George Russell||Mercedes||1min 23.557sec|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||1min 23.749sec|
|10||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||1min 24.050sec|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1min 26.788sec|
|12||Alex Albon||Williams||1min 26.858sec|
|13||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1min 33.127sec|
|14||Lando Norris||McLaren||No Q2 time|
|15||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||No Q2 time|
|16||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||1min 34.492sec|
|17||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1min 34.512sec|
|18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1min 35.532sec|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||1min 35.660sec|
|20||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||1min 36.575sec|