Verstappen braves wet conditions to claim Canadian GP pole ahead of sensational Alonso
In treacherous conditions for qualifying at the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, it was Max Verstappen who kept his head to claim his first pole position of 2022 since Imola – with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso set to join him on the front row after a stunning run from the Spaniard.
Lapping on intermediate tyres on the drying Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Verstappen clocked a time of 1m 21.299s, leaving him a full 0.645s clear of the pack, headed by Alonso – who will make his first front row start since taking pole in Germany 10 years ago.
Completing the top three was the Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, whose team mate Charles Leclerc is set to start P19 after taking on new power unit elements. Lewis Hamilton showed his wet weather prowess to take P4, ahead of a fine performance for the Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, sharing the third row in P5 and P6.
FORMULA 1 AWS GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2022
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:21.299|
|2 Fernando Alonso ALO Alpine||1:21.944|
|3 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari||1:22.096|
|4 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||1:22.891|
|5 Kevin Magnussen MAG Haas F1 Team||1:22.960|
Esteban Ocon claimed P7 ahead of the second Mercedes of George Russell – an attempt to set a lap on slicks in the closing stages coming to nought for the Englishman, as he spun at Turn 2 – with Daniel Ricciardo heading Zhou Guanyu. The Chinese driver was making his first ever Q3 appearance, but will be investigated after the session for an infringement at Turn 14.
Valtteri Bottas was 11th, ahead of the Williams of Alex Albon, then Sergio Perez – who crashed his Red Bull out of Q2, bringing out red flags – ahead of Lando Norris, the Briton experiencing a power unit issue.
Leclerc was P15, but will fall back with his penalty, promoting Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, who all dropped out in Q1.
Yuki Tsunoda will bring up the rear of the field, having also taken engine penalties for power unit changes.
AS IT HAPPENED
Q1 – FP3 stars Vettel and Gasly fail to make it through, as both Canadians drop out
Race Control made no bones about the weather conditions ahead of qualifying, confirming that the risk of rain was 100% – with all the runners duly spending the opening segment on the extreme wet tyres. “Plan is to get a time on the board early with the risk of red and yellow flags,” Pete Bonnington, Hamilton’s engineer, radioed to his driver. “I can’t see a lot ahead of me,” Hamilton retorted.
Conditions were certainly tough – but the 20 drivers set to lapping the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with Max Verstappen leading the way with a 1m 32.219s, ahead of the Alpine of Alonso, driving beautifully in the wet, having led FP3 in similar conditions.
Q1 would witness some big scalps, with Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel both falling foul of the conditions and dropping out – the pair having been P2 and P3 in FP3, Vettel audibly frustrated over team radio.
There was disappointment for the home crowd too, with both Montreal-born racers Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi going out in Q1, along with the second AlphaTauri of the engine penalty-hit Yuki Tsunoda, who took P20. Charles Leclerc, who will also start at the big of the grid after taking a raft of new power unit elements, progressed through to Q2 in P5, while Alex Albon also impressed to make his and Williams’ first Q2 appearance since Bahrain.
Knocked out: Gasly, Vettel, Stroll, Latifi, Tsunoda
Q2 – Verstappen heads Alonso again as Perez smash brings out red flags
A handful of drivers swallowed their brave pills and headed out for Q2 on the green-walled intermediates, Hamilton – who went out on wets – saying conditions were “definitely on the crossover, very close”.
Albon and Perez may have begged to differ, the intermediate-shod runners both finding the wall at Turns 6 and 3 respectively early in the segment, the two drivers aquaplaning off and hitting the barriers.
Albon’s impact seemed innocuous enough, causing little visible damage – although Williams did change his front wing – but Perez both damaged his own front wing and was unable to find reverse on his RB18, leaving him wedged in the TECPROs and bringing out a red flag.
The Mexican was forced to climb out of the car and trek through the parkland back to the paddock, his quali over on a day when Red Bull would have loved to press home their advantage over the grid penalty-hit Leclerc.
Despite Albon and Perez’s hits, all the remaining runners headed back out on the inters for the remaining nine minutes, bar Leclerc – happy to park it up given his penalties – and Norris, who reported a power unit misfire on his McLaren, the Briton heading out with three minutes to go before retreating to the pits, his issue clearly not resolved.
With the track improving, the times were tumbling, but the top two wound up the same as Q1, Verstappen leading Alonso again with a 1m 23.746s. Joining Perez, Norris and Leclerc in the drop zone were Bottas and Albon – the Thai driver with his best qualifying of the season, but not quite enough to give Williams a first Q3 of the year.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu did notch up his first ever Q3 appearance in P7, as Mick Schumacher also impressed with his second ever appearance in the top 10 shoot-out, joined by his Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen. Those Haases, the Mercedes and the Alpines were the only three teams with both cars into Q3.
Knocked out: Bottas, Albon, Perez, Norris, Leclerc
Q3 – Verstappen and Alonso 1-2 once more as Dutchman claims pole
With conditions the way they were, you wouldn’t have bet against anyone taking pole position in the Montreal dreich on Saturday.
The opening gambit saw Verstappen leading Sainz and Alonso, Schumacher doing well to slot into P4. But the track was changing minute-by-minute, corner-by-corner, with the times continuing to improve.
Was it dry enough for slicks? George Russell thought it was worth a punt but came a cropper in Turn 2, spinning into the grass in a move that would leave him P8. Nothing ventured…
Verstappen was flying though, and duly banged in a 1m 21. 299s on his final lap to take his 15th career pole. But it was Alonso who was entertaining the crowd, the two-time champion power sliding past the Wall of Champions on his final effort to claim P2 – Alonso surprisingly the fastest Spaniard, as he pipped his protégé Carlos Sainz, who took third.
Hamilton claimed his first top-four start of the year, ahead of the delighted Haas boys, Magnussen and Schumacher – as Ocon, Russell, Ricciardo and Zhou rounded out the top 10 after a memorable Canadian qualifying.
The key quote
“Of course, I still expect it not to be a straightforward race,” said Verstappen after securing pole for what will be his 150th Grand Prix. “But I think today with the tricky conditions we stayed calm, we didn’t make mistakes and we had the right calls in Q3, of course super happy with that to get pole position here. Also, to be back here in Montreal, it’s been a while and it’s great to see all the fans.
“You really get the go karting sensation back with like real proper curbs around here, so we always enjoy driving here and looking forward to tomorrow.”
The 2022 Canadian Grand Prix gets under way at 1400 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Will it be win number six in a row for a Red Bull this season? Or can Alonso use his experience to get himself in the fight for his first victory since Spain 2013?